Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Home Again.

On Friday the 13th of October 2006 I returned safely to the Twin Cities. I hope to post some last photos, a couple of audio tracks and to write a final entry or two wrapping up my Peace Corps experience in Kyrgyzstan. But for now, I am going to order a pizza and watch Sunday NFL football.

signing off,


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Suleyman Mountain Sunrise

Young Man training atop Mount Suleyman before a rising sun. Osh, Kyrgyzstan: Aug.13th, 2006.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Battling the Sun: August 13th, 2006--Mount Suleyman: Osh, Kyrgyzstan

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Dawn of Osh: (taken August 10, 2006) People always ask me why i get up so early in the morning. This is my answer. Note: the photo of the moon below was taken just a few minutes before this one.

As the rising August sun burns from the east, the evening's cooler counterpoint seeks shelter behind Mount Suleyman.

Mount Suleyman, Osh: this monolith sits prominently at the peak of Suleyman Too (Too means mountain). I climb up here a few times each week in the early morning and read. When the sun rises the heat kicks up to about 105 degrees fahrenheit...

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Weeping Man

The man was half-naked, his bronze chest streaked with drying mud, “Ayeeeeeeeeeeeee!” he screamed, throwing his arms in the air, “I don’t want this! I don’t want it.” He collapsed in a heap, folding awkwardly upon himself like some abandoned puppet.

I watched him from my balcony, as a theatre-goer might watch a thespian. Then, the reality of it—of him—needled its way into my emotional fabric. I looked east, down the long front side of my apartment building, and saw heads emerging from windows and other beings stepping onto terraces to stare at this man wrapped in terror and pain and sadness.

His crumpled form sat below me, perhaps ten feet away and I could see his back swell and deflate under his breath.

A stillness invaded the courtyard and a silence crept out of the madness of the world and appeared to be moving toward him, hunting for him. He wailed and the guttural, inchoate sounds that came out of him seemed dredged up from some darker, primordial day.

I shuddered but continued watching.

He breathed, sucking air over his teeth and again let out that aborted, primeval noise… he drew in another breath and again returned his torment to the world…

Slowly, out of this repetition a rhythm was born and these methodic sobs crashed forth like great waves tugged from the sea by the moon.

It seemed he cried for all of us and tethered his tears to our souls through the enchanting sound of that sad mantra.

I sighed deeply and withdrew, but I will never forget the weeping man.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Lessons Learned in Kyrgyzstan

“Come with me.” He said and put his arm around my shoulder. We walked outside onto the porch and into the fresh air, then down the stairs and into the flower garden. In the distance I saw a group of children playing soccer and others completing their yard work. The grounds of the orphanage included stables, a few acres of farmland, a pig pen and dozens of caged bunnies.

“You see,” he said, “I used to get drunk every night and chase women. I lived most of my life like that. One day I asked myself, Stephan, what have you done with your life—what do you have to show for yourself?—and the answer was nothing.”

He leaned over and stuck his nose in the white blossoms of a rose and inhaled.

He raised his head and we continued strolling, “At that point in my life I already had a fairly successful business, but I realized that didn’t matter. I looked around and saw all of these children on the streets, abandoned and begging. And I said, there’s something I can do.”

Several of the children spotted Stephan outside and began shouting, “Pappa! Pappa!” A little, sandy-haired girl with wide eyes glowing above her smile sprinted into Stephan’s arms. He lifted her up and looked at me, “now I have twenty-one children that all call me pappa and everything I do, I do for them.”

I took another look around the orphanage and felt as though I was in the center of big family. Stephan knelt and set the little girl back down and looked up into my eyes, “Life should be about love.”

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Veteran Aksakal (respectful term for elderly Kyrgyz men). Photo taken in Osh by Larry Tweed Jr. (aka my father).