Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

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


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