Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Nurlan and Nigora: My friends from my days at HRDC: July 23rd.

Eating of the Minds: Kyrgyzstan Sheep and Brain Power!

Meat. Sheep meat. I have eaten eyeballs, tongues, livers, quivering bowls of fat and now—adding to my repertoire—Sheep BRAIN. Not ba-aa-aa-aad. Eating brain changes you. Perhaps it’s a right of passage we in the west have forgotten. I feel smarter and I seem to be able to count faster before I fall asleep. I become very emotional around wool garments and I’ve start drooling every time I walk past a lush green patch of grass. In crowded areas, I’ve taken to leaping up in order to survey the situation and bearded men with staffs and long flowing robes garner my attention. I used to feel comfortable in front of large audiences and now, well, I feel sheepish.

The boiled sheep brain was consumed on a day trip with my former HRDC coworkers. I received a phone call at 6:09AM, Saturday morning, “Larry, meet us in front of the office in 30 minutes.” I arrived at my old office 40 minutes later to find an army green Mashrutka (minivan), loaded down with fruit, bread, vodka, soft-drinks and beer. After ten minutes of shuffling backpacks and bags around, 16 people piled into the minivan and prepared for departure.

After just 10 minutes, we made our first stop on the outskirts of Osh. Several perceptive individuals realized (1) that the beer and soft-drinks were already warm (2) that the trip would require great courage and (3) that great courage can’t be sought from a warm bottle. After buying out the store’s cold soda and brews we were off…again. By 7:30AM the vodka shots began and by 8:00AM the entire vehicle was awash in the not-so-melodic slurry of song. The women of course, being the wiser sex, remained sober, dignified and bemused, the sat like royalty laughing at their jesters.

I sipped my beer and participated in the few English songs that Kyrgyz Karaoke parlors have commandeered…The Beatles are prime promoters of lyrics requiring effusive, puppy-dog-eyed, lip-pouting, nostalgic facial distortions performed by intoxicated soul-searching singers… “Yesterday, all our troubles seemed so far away…” is always a target. ADVICE! If you are coming to Kyrgyzstan, make sure you know a couple of songs by heart.

9:35AM we arrived at our first destination: containing a hot springs, swimming pool, sauna and dining room. We ate our breakfast (bread, watermelon, two kinds of salad, pistachios, almonds, raisins, candy and cookies, tea and kumys (fermented horse milk) and then went for an hour long swim.

Gotta run! Wish I had time to recount the rest of the day. Let’s just say, I’ve never eaten so much food in my life. Got back home at 1:00 AM—18 hours after departing.

Take care,

Larry Tweed

Mashrutka (with former co-workers): July 23rd: Day trip.

Yurt: July 23rd. Osh Oblast

Kyrgyzstan countryside: July 23rd.

Kyrgyz Yurt: photo taken on a day trip with former coworkers at HRDC on July 23rd.

Nice mountain stream on my day trip July 23rd. I fished this stream till I lost a lure (which only took about 15 minutes).

Me and My Kalpak: This traditional Kyrgyz hat was given to me on the day trip I took with my former coworkers at HRDC on Saturday, July 23rd.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Wild Flowers!

My foray into National Geographic Photography: I tracked this Rocket Snail for 3 hours and finally caught up to him in the dense thicket of Kyrgyzstan's often forgotten Tropical Rain Forest. Monkeys and Rhinos are so banal, I figured I'd opt for danger and adventure by giving folks their first glimpse at the Kyrygz Rocket Snail. Just check out those antennae!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

On a recent hike along the banks of the Ak-buura, I disturbed a swarm of butterflies that had been resting. Hundreds of them surrounded me. When their wings are closed they resemble stones, but as they open they reveal the blues and purples you see here. The flowers along the banks are identical to these opened winged blues. I escaped a certain death by showing the butterflies pictures of themselves on my digital camera. Vanity can be a powerful tool...

Fourth of July: We found a pool, but unfortunately no water. I decided not to let a minor detail stop me from swimming.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Osh, Kyrgyzstan: From mount Suleyman. Photo by Brian Kaiger (spring 2005).

Decadence: I polished off 3 Gamburgers at this Gamburger stand in Jalalabad. Look carefully and you can see the plates stacked up to prove it. Gamburgers are imitation Hamburgers--think gyro meat on a bun with a tomato, ketchup, french fries and sometimes coleslaw wedged in the middle. Yum Yum! I experienced pain and discomfort after this photo was taken...and a 3 hour bumpy ride home....

Monday, July 11, 2005

Greg, Larry, Nurjan Linking arms in a dangerous attempt at rescuing Brian Kaiger from the forces of evil lurking on the other side of the river.

Larry Tweed (AKA--"Old Man Gruff") reading in his apartment in Osh, Kyrgyzstan.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Kyrgyzstan Election Day & and Update

Brief post. I am sitting in a newly airconditioned internet cafe on Sunday, July 10th. Today is Election Day in Kyrgyzstan. For the most part, everything is fairly normal here in Osh. With the exception of a few stores and restaurants being closed, folks here are going about their business. The woman who operates the internet cafe told me she already voted this morning and I've seen many expats around these past few days who have come to observe and monitor the process.

Peace Corps has placed us on Standfast (from July 5th-July 17th)--which essentially means we can not leave our sites (for me this means Osh). This is just a safety precaution in case they need track us down quickly. Again, so far so good regarding the elections. Some local people believe there could be some demonstrations and/or provocations, but only time will tell.

Friday, I held my third weekly discussion club on American Family Structures (again, students choose the topics and I facilitate the discussion). Three PCV guest speakers joined in the discussion and we opened the topic by providing students with our personal family histories. Each of us, (the volunteers) come from very different backgrounds so it was a great way to demonstrate that families in the US are as diverse as the country itself. There were betweed 20-25 students who attended the club on friday (up from 12 the first week).

For next Friday, the students decided to discuss the Electoral Process of the United States compared to Kyrgyzstan's Electoral Process. Should be interesting and I hope to bring in another volunteer who worked on an Election Campaign in the U.S. before joing the PC.

My Grant Writing Seminar for teachers will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Six hours of talking about the grant writing process...I hope I don't put them to sleep.

In short, the new job has kept me busy. I haven't had much time to reflect these last few weeks... I hope to write more soon.

Enjoy the summer. It's 103 degrees in Osh today and we are thankful for this cold front. Whew.

Take care,

Larry Tweed

Monday, July 04, 2005

Uzbek girl in Arslanbob. Arslanbob is comprised of over 80% Uzbeks.

Fingers of God in Arslanbob.

Arslanbob waterfalls

Arslanbob waterfalls.

In Arslanbob, the only bears to beware of are the one's with injured front-left paws. Thank goodness we didn't encounter any maimed (Medveds--Russian for bear) while we were there.