Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Christmas In Jalalabad

Happy Holidays from Kyrgyzstan!

We have snow here in Osh (which is considered to be one of the warmest places), so I’m guessing that most of the country will be having a white Christmas. Of course, Christmas isn’t really celebrated in Kyrgyzstan, however, New Years seems to make a fine substitute complete with decorated Christmas x-mas trees, santa clause costumes, and lots of parties. “Snow-vumm Go-dumm” is Russian for Happy New Year!

Today (Christmas eve) I am headed about 3 hours north to Jalala-bad, to spend Christmas with some Peace Corps volunteers up there. Christmas in Jalala-bad—that has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?

Last week I moved into an apartment, centrally located in Osh and only 10 minutes walk to the Human Rights and Democracy Center. My yellow pear brick building looks like any other apartment building in Kyrgyzstan, old, bombed out, dilapidated and decaying. Most apartment buildings in Osh are three to four story rectangles about 75 yards long and 25 yards wide and nothing but steel skeletons with concrete flesh (and the occasional stucco or brick façade). I’m on the second floor in a one room apartment. As you enter my apartment, there is a corridor that leads about 10 feet to the left. At the end of the corridor are two curtains separating the hallway from the living room and there is a door leading into my bathroom on the right side. The bathroom has a tub, sink and a porcelain toilet. The right side of the sink, which hovers about 10 inches above the toilet, prevents one from raising the conventional toilet seat…ah, but in Kyrgyzstan nothing is conventional. My toilet seat is a wooden horseshoe that looks like it was made by an eighth grader in his first shop class. This splintery slab of warped wood sits freely atop the porcelain basin and can be removed depending on your desired output. If you wish to sit then lean forward and imagine the drawings in airplane safety manuals that instruct you to lean forward and lock your arms around your knees—this is what you will need to do, since your sink was installed directly above the toilet.

Had a nice dinner with the U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Steven Young and some of his staff the other week. They treated us (the volunteers in Osh) to a quasi-American meal in a Restaurant named Nirvana. I devoured a tasty chicken burrito, complete with salsa, sour cream and Spanish rice—a welcome change from fatty sheep meat. Nirvana also brews a cold tasty beverage called Academia Gold, which could compete with just about any microbrew in the states. Tax dollars never tasted so good.

I have all of next week off for the holidays—I’m hoping to use this time to explore some more of the city as well as make some needed purchases at the Bazaar (I’ve been drying off with a hand towel for the last week).

Other news
. One Hundred dollars has been returned to me by the family which I first started living with here in Osh and they have promised to return the remaining “missing cash”.

Well, I’m going to post this brief update while the connection still works, but before I do, I just wanted to thank everyone who has sent me emails, letters and packages—they’ve all been much appreciated! Have a safe and happy holiday!

Oh, and a shout out to all my friends and family! Love and miss ya!

Larry

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