Saturday, July 12, 2008

Week One

Wednesday July 9th

Meeting my family!!!

So I have a tendency to be the person who gets everything right when it doesn’t matter and then forget minor but important details when they are important. I brought 300 million pounds of luggage here to Kyrgyzstan and it has been a royal pain in the ass…BUT through the entire back breaking process of lugging it around the globe I have kept telling myself that being prepared would definitely come in handy ultimately, this remains to be seen. Anyway, me being the genius I am pack up everything but jeans, a short sleeve button-up shirt and sandals….I go downstairs, load my 800 million pounds of luggage on the truck and then look around and see that everyone is dressed really well, like old school Baptist Church well! So I am thinking “great my family is going to think I am a jackass American”, on top of that everyone has bought their host families flowers, not me, I actually have really good gifts that won’t die in one day packed away, but still another opportunity to look like a total jerk. So we go to this auditorium with cheesy house music pumping like we are a gay club (can I get a super ghetto hayyyyyyyyy) and then some sort of Kyrgyz equivalent of “The Greatest Love of All” starts playing and we begin the matching ceremony. You all know how cynical I can be, BUT IT WAS SO AWESOME….I HAVE NEVER experienced something so meaningful that on the surface seemed hokey. I met my apa (mother), Kenjegul Apa and my carindash (little sister) Altinie (19) they were all smiles. The lack of a three piece suit (I am not kidding some of these folks were wearing a three piece suit in this hot ass weather with no AC) and flowers meant nothing to them! Communication was strained of course…I only knew how to say “I like mountains” and “My name is Lee” along with a few other phrases….INSANELY SCARY. After lugging my 380 billion pounds of luggage to the taxi we were off for Kengesh, the village I will staying in for 11 weeks. I have a very nice room in my house; it has an electrical outlet and even though there is no air-conditioning it is remarkably cool! I have four brothers all in their 20’s, and I gave them some decks of playing cards which I think helped make them like me. There names are Miribek, Mike, Max and Jon (obviously Mike, Max and John Americanized their names for me) my ata (father) is in the hospital (I am not quite sure why) and with him there is my other carindash Jarkilin (17). I have more to tell you about the house and the family and my first interactions with them but I am so exhausted. I miss my friends and my American family but I am really excited!

Lovingood Out!

Friday July 11th

Ok so a few things….my entries for at least the first three months are probably only going to be posted weekly at best, so it could potentially be a lot of reading, so read if you like, and don’t if you are bored or uninterested. Blogging is a good way for me to express myself and hopefully for you to see what I am up to is you so desire!

My new family is AWESOME. My apa is so nice, she helps me with vocabulary and then quizzes me, she is always smiling! I try to help her do things but she won’t let me, yesterday she jarred a shit ton of cucumbers to make pickles for the winter! Alitnie is so great, she really works hard on her English and I sometimes feel lost when she is not around. My brothers are in and out, they are very nice. They too help me with my Kyrgyz! My eldest sister who doesn’t live here has two kids…they call me bi-jeh , or big brother, they are lots of fun. The little girl is around five or six her name is Azilmaka, her brother is eleven his name is Agin (these are not anglicized names so they are said with an accent). I watched my Scooby Doo DVD on my computer with Azilmaka and she loved it, I also gave her some bubbles, she loved them. Agin is awesome too, he likes the bubbles but loved the bouncy ball that I gave him! I still haven’t met my ata or my youngest sister….this is supposed to happen soon I think. OH, and my family does not drink alcohol, I am glad!

Douching and Squat Toilets. Melmad will get a real kick out of this. Most families here bathe weekly in a banya which is a really hot sauna with tubs of water. The males of a family first bathe together for hours in a very social practice, the women follow. I AM SO GLAD MY FAMILY DOES NOT BANYA!! Instead we have a sun shower in the yard, it is essentially the frame of like a voting booth wrapped in a tarp with a basin at the top that is filled with water and heated by the sun....Showering here is called douching and I get to do it every day, PRAISE GOD. Squat toilets here are found in outhouses in the back yard of each family……OMFG insane, first my inner thighs are getting such a workout (STOP READING NOW IF YOU ARE EASILY GROSSED OUT) some toilets smell so bad, I mean it is a bunch of shit in a hole, I threw up the first time I attempted number two….eggs and chai on the floor of the “outhouse”, which I felt I needed to clean, so GROSS. Then I got performance anxiety and didn’t go for two days, finally I am able to go pretty easily at the house where we take our language classes, I just fill my nostrils with bits of paper before entering and the smell is minimized greatly. One has to be careful not to misfire though; I had the pleasure of doing that today today! HAHAHA, sorry guys I am going to give you the real deal!

3. I miss. Ashley, Air Conditioning, My Friends, A Special Person, Mom, Jaycee, My American Family, My House and My Routines!

4. I don’t miss. Barak Obama, Traffic, Gas Prices, English speakers with an inability to speak properly, food that is going to kill me, the few pounds I have already lost, and insane bitchy coworkers (haha, obviously if you are reading this I am not talking about you).

Ok that is it for now! Love you guys, well most of you!

Lovingood Out!

Saturday July 12th

Low: I don’t know what is wrong with me…..I sleep lots here, I take a nap everyday after class and I go to bed by 11 at the absolute latest, yet I find that I am always incredibly tired. The exhaustion doesn’t cease and it is making me depressed. Language class is hard, Rak Hat my teacher is very patient, but this is her first time teaching PC Volunteers and I think that some of the things that she is teaching at this point are too advanced for where we are in the process right now. I hate that I am being negative not even a week in, it makes me feel weak. I have never thought of myself as anything other than resilient. I need to stop being so damn tired but I don’t know what to do! Today I am just down! Talking to someone I love may make things better, I hope that this can happen soon! Hopefully things will be better tomorrow!

Lovingood out

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Welcome to Kyrgyzstan!!!

Hey everyone! This is my first blog entry on blogspot which I found to be more user friendly than the original blog site that I was going with. This is also my first entry since I began this insane journey! So I am in Kyrgyzstan! I really can’t believe it and even though I am here is sill feels surreal to me. The Peace Corps does a really good job of slowly easing us into this new way of life, and if their warnings are any indication things are still going to get a whole lot more interesting and intense as time presses on. So let the weaning begin I suppose, the hotel in Philly was amazing….a huge plush bed (with like five pillows), a flat screen high definition television, air conditioning and even a computer suite in the room), the hotel we are staying in outside of the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, isn’t nearly as luxurious BUT there is running water and a toilet that flushes (even though the TP is like that paper we use for streamers at home), both things I am warned that I should expect to do without when I move in with my host family on Wednesday.
There are 62 of my fellow Peace Corps trainees, we are knows as K-16’s which denotes that we are the sixteenth class of volunteers to come to this country. A lot of my new peers seem like really cool people. There are A LOT of 22 year olds which makes me feel old (remember I turned 26 on the 4th, and not to be negative but without my friends and family it really was a lame birthday….I can’t wait to celebrate 29 with you all when I return). Overall, they are a group of peppy folk, and I think together we will all do very good for our new country! The dude I have been rooming with is a 53 year old playwright from Brooklyn named Michael (not Mike he quickly informed me), he is a really cool guy with some awesome experiences under his belt and way relaxed sort of attitude about life that I hope to learn from. There is also this awesome older couple from North Carolina named Fritz and Ginger, they are pretty freakin amazing! Like I said there are other cool people but I have spotted a few major know-it-alls, and the sort of people who have to make sure that you know they have done more than you in life (like Penelope from SNL), I have a good feeling this experience will humble those folks. The bottom line is we are all here to do good things and grow as individuals.
Homesickness hasn’t really hit me too hard yet! I miss calling my mother already, and a world without Ashley is already hard to swallow (buffet!)! I also sort of miss someone I met right before I left The States, but have discussed the situation with this person and am cautiously optimistic about my new friend and what our relationship could potentially turn into when I return, this however is not the focus at this point….just something to maybe look forward to! Regardless of what happens it is nice to really connect with someone again, it has been a while, and my relationship with the evil midget lawyer had soured me for a while, I am thankful that my new friend has shown me that there are still amazing people out there!! Anyway, enough of that…sheesh!!!
Ok, I am about to end my first entry…hopefully not too boring! Today will be a full day of rules, regulations and learning my new language of Kyrgyz! Lauren if you read this don’t kill me over punctuation….and Ryan if you are reading, I will be sending you and email about the aforementioned portion that probably got an eyebrow raise out of you!

Alright guys, Lovingood out!