Saying Good-Bye

This past week has been an emotional roller coaster and a whirl wind of events. I am barely sleeping, and passing through the days wishing time could just slow down. Peace Corps Kazakhstan programs were suspended on  Wednesday November 16th, 2011.  I was sitting in a concert hall being a judge for 17 different schools who had 5th graders memorize and recite poems in English. As I was laughing at their poems that they didn’t understand, but were delivering very nicely I happened to glance at my phone and see six missed calls from my regional manager. I was alarmed, and ran out into the hall to call her back. The judges were deliberating on who would win the poetry contest and I knew I had about a minute before I had to present awards. My regional manager picked up and in a panicked tone asked if I was in a place where no one could see my face. At this point I was very alarmed as to where this phone call was going. She read me three paragraphs and said not to ask questions. The paragraphs said as of today Peace Corps Kazakhstan is going to be suspended etc etc. All volunteers are to say their good byes and close down their sites. We are to not talk to anyone until after our schools have been informed. She said that we would get more information in the coming days about getting to Almaty where we will go through Close of Service procedures. I was in absolute shock. I tried to ask questions and she would not answer any. She had to call the rest of the volunteers and read them the same paragraph. I was shaking and felt like I was going to be sick. I had to go back into the concert hall, smile, pass out awards, and act like nothing was wrong. The second I finished handing out the awards I got my coat and walked into the street where I started shaking and freaking out. I called my mom at two am in America to tell her the news. I went home to my village and could not function that night. I was sitting having tea with my host mom and decided I had to tell her. I have lived with her for the past 10 months and I owe her that much to tell her before she gets a call from Peace Corps. She started crying and couldn’t believe it either.
The next day at school I was sitting in the teachers room, I had only slept a few hours the night before and my host mother came in to say that Peace Corps called. All volunteers are leaving and I needed to be in Almaty in five days (including 2 days on the train just to get down there). My heart sank, this was not a dream. I started crying and was surrounded by teachers who were all crying and hugging me. No one could believe it. News travelled fast and everyone came up to me and was so upset. My students found out shortly after. That was the hardest part. I was sitting in my 6th grade class and all of the girls were bawling their eyes out. I was taking turns hugging them while they were crying on my shoulder. They all then had me sign their English dictionaries so they could always remember me. They said they want to take me around my village the next day so I can take pictures and always remember it. They said they would come in early (they study in the second shift) during the first shift. I agreed, but did not think this would happen.
The next day I arrived at school with two duffles of clothes, shoes, slippers (basically everything I owned) and passed it out to teachers and students.  They all wanted an object to remember me by. As I was thinking, ok, I can go home now and start packing I saw my 30 6th graders peak around the corner and come running at me. They were ready to take me around the village. It was heart wrenching. They all actually came in early and took me around Bishkul. We took pictures in front of the school, in front of birch trees, fir trees, the local government building, the culture house, and in our town square. Every time we were walking to the next location I had students hanging all on me three students deep in every direction and actually fighting over who got to stand closest to me. They did rotations. They then all walked me home to my house and continued on their way to attend lessons.
The next day I was supposed to be packing, but instead I had students coming to my house to bring me going away presents and drink tea. Their going away presents included lots of  enormous stuffed animals and magnets, easily packable. The best part of it all was sitting in my kitchen drinking tea with groups of different students and talking about good memories from summer camp or what they want to do in the future. I, also, really did not want to pack because this just didn’t seem real so the distractions were welcomed.
Monday, quickly, came around and I showed up to school on my last day in Bishkul. The entire school gathered in the auditorium and had a scripted concert to say their good byes to me. There were kind words from a selection of students in different grades, there was dancing (I was called on to dance the national dance in the middle of students while everyone videotaped it on their camera phones), I was serenaded by all of the male teachers in different songs they had learned in English, and I was presented with many different Kazakhstani gifts. In this culture you must be tough and strong and not cry and I was doing my best to hold back tears as I saw students crying. After the concert we had one last photo shoot and then headed to the teachers room where all the teachers laid out a spread of food. They did toasts to me in Russian to say good bye. One particular toast that stuck in my mind was from the big, tough military Russian teacher who told me the second I step on American soil I must give my parents a big thumbs up for raising someone like me. The teachers said they don’t want any other Peace Corps volunteer in the future, only me, and when I have kids, my kids. I strangely walked away from school, dombra in hand, and entered my house for the last time. I had my last dinner, my last cup of tea,and headed to the train station. My Counterpart Zada, young teachers I had befriended, Russian host sister Ludmilla, and host mother all gathered on the tracks near my wagon. We said our good byes and embraced in a big hug, their fur coats overtaking me as they began to cry and pushed me on the wagon to get my journey going. I looked out the window and waved good bye to my home for the last year. I didn’t know how to feel as I got on the 26 hour train ride leaving my village and my friends in Siberia.

All Peace Corps Volunteers had a Close of Service conference in Almaty for five days to tie up all of our loose ends and close out documents. We had sessions on re-entry, re-adjustment, and reverse culture shock upon entering America. I can’t believe I am going back to America. I can’t believe my Peace Corps service is over and I can’t believe how much has happened and changed in the past 15 months in Kazakhstan. I will never forget Kazakhstan and all of the generous people I met. I will never forget my students, because they are the ones that made every day so special. They are the ones that made it worthwhile to get out of bed when it was still dark out, put on as many layers as possible and my floor length down coat, to trek through ice and snow to school just so I could give them high fives, teach some English, and get to know them. I will always remember my host mother and how we would drink tea and chat every evening, about how we would work in the garden together and how every time I wanted to share part of my culture with her by cooking she would take over and tell me I was doing something wrong. I will always remember the many nights my host sister Ludmila and I talked about what we want to do with our futures and how we envision each others’ lives to pan out. Bishkul was a great little Siberian village and it will have seemingly endless impacts on me for the rest of my life.


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I was leaving Kazakhstan for the first time in fourteen months. I was overwhelmed by a mixture of emotions. I was scared to leave the world I was used to, excited to see my friends, and pumped to run a marathon. I had grown accustomed to my quiet life and my repetitive routine.  As the plane was landing in Istanbul at 10 p.m. I was blown away by all the lights and the beauty of the city. The moment the plane landed all of the Kazakh people jumped out of their seats and began to gather their things. The plane was still dark, pulling into the gate, and the flight attendants were pleading with everyone to sit down. It was mayhem. This is a very real  factor of this culture I do not understand. Anytime groups of people must get on or off public transportation or try and order something at the local store it is a dash and everyone is pushing each-other out of the way. A plane pulling into the arrival gate was no exception.

Alix and I got dropped off in front of our hostel and when I looked up I was extremely confused. We then walked in and when I saw how nice and clean the place was and my heart sank. We had been ripped off and brought to the wrong place I thought. On the contrary, it was in fact our hostel and we were greeted with a welcoming smile by the man at reception. These are things I am not used to anymore and took me by surprise. That night I took a nice, long, hot shower. My long hot showers are now around five minutes. We then watched the BBC in English. We had been in Istanbul for three hours and it was complete culture shock.

The next day we went back to the airport to meet my friends who were arriving from the U.S. I was standing in a crowd of people nervously waiting for them to come through the arrival gates. People kept getting in my way or slowly shifting me to the outskirts and I had to fight my way back into the middle so I could be sure I could spot them. I began to get nervous. What if I didn’t see them? What if things had changed and we acted differently? I was trying to identify which flights were coming in by the languages I heard and the general look of the people. There were three flights coming in from the U.S. so it made it a bit harder. I was nervously standing there getting more and more anxious when I finally spotted Ari. She screamed and pointed to me. The three of us embraced in an overtired, overexcited, emotional hug and then were swept off by Kristen’s’ family friend Ufuk. Ufuk took us to his house for an authentic Turkish dinner with his family. It was an amazing night with great food and great people.

The trip completely blew me away with the places we stumbled upon, the delicious food we ate, the interesting people we met, and the overall time spent together. The city is unreal in the fact that it is unlike anywhere I have ever been before. Its similar to a modern European city but with breathtaking mosques everywhere. You will be walking through the spice market hearing many different languages, seeing many different people, and then the call to prayer will fill the air. The fact that the city is on the Bosporus adds another whole level. When you cross the bridge from Asia to Europe you see fisherman catching what they can to sell to Restaurants. Its so interesting to see the fisherman take a break and sit along the rocks to drink tea with their friends admiring the sparkling blue water.

I could go on and on about all that we did and saw but some of my favorite times were when we stumbled upon a rooftop cafe and drank cappuccinos or wine while eating sweet baklava and admiring the sun set over the vast city. The best part was that my worries about having changed or not connecting with my friends were thrown out the window when it was easily apparent that it was like no time had passed at all. We are still the same people.


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Running has been a part of my life for a very long time and has been a very good habit to have in the Peace Corps. It really helps with boredom and mental health. Furthermore, when I feel like I have no control over any factors in my life I can control when and where I run. I can tell my host mom no I can’t go gostii with you for five million hours I have to run today. No I can’t take that shot of vodka at 2 in the afternoon I have to go on a run today.

I started training for a marathon last winter. I bundled up in layers upon layers of clothes, face mask and all, and set out looking like an eskimo on the slick ice covered roads. I would try to ‘carefully’ run down the roads when I would wipe out and slide across them. I usually had my biggest wipeouts when their was an audience. Out of stubborness for all the people thinking I was crazy for running in those conditions I would jump back up and continue on like nothing had happened. My bruises later proved otherwise. As the snow began to melt it was like a whole new world. I was upping my mileage and taking off layers. When summer finally arrived I discovered these beautiful trails between golden wheat fields and birch wood forests. I could measure the passage of time by my training runs in the beginning of the summer when the crops were green and up to my ankles, then progressed to my knees, and then shoulders. At the end of the summer they turned golden and were soon harvested. Fall brought brisk morning runs before my lessons with flaxen leaves that littered the ground. It was extremely calming to get away from constantly standing out and to be surrounded by nature taking in fresh air and getting lost in my own thoughts.

Many of my more amusing moments occurred while I was running. Often I had to run through herds of cows and sheep. There may have been a time when I was in danger and had to run from a cow. There have been times when my younger students have tried running alongside me for a while. Many people in my village have seen me running and, therefore, it has been this discussion about how many miles I have run every day. I loved when people who have never run in their life gave me advice on what I was doing wrong and scolded me for running 25 and not 30 K one day. A handful of  people have taken an interest in my running routes and what not. My village thinks because I am going to a different country to run a marathon that I am going to win it. I wish I was kidding, but my village thinks I am going to win this marathon. They are going to be seriously disappointed when they find out I come no where close to winning. I am in fact doing it just to run and finish- key word here is finish. I haven’t run more than a 5k race and in exactly one week on October 16th I will attempt to run my first marathon. The best part about the entire thing is my two best friends will be meeting me in Istanbul.  This is my first break from Kazakhstan in fourteen months and I cannot wait.


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Funny Little Moments

As I rounded the corner of my school I walked into my fifth graders who were outside for gym class. I happened to be looking down and heard a chorus of throaty “Hello’s.” When I looked up, I was surrounded on all sides by fifth graders who wanted to high five me. I started a high five line at the end of class and I am not sure who gets more of a kick out of it, me or them. Regardless, I couldn’t help but laugh at these little people who were throwing high fives left and right in my face. Usually I am the one attacking my students with boundless amounts of energy. Here they were throwing my old tricks back at me.

For my 6th grade class I made them all wait outside until the bell rang and then I gave instructions that they were to find vocabulary cards that were hidden all over the classroom. Once they found a card, they were to sit down and prepare a sentence to go with that particular vocabulary word. I opened the door and they went flying in, viciously searching for the cards. They were engaged and happy to have these little cards in their hands. For whatever reason, the stars aligning perhaps, every single student worked. Every single student understood the material. Every single student participated.  It was a great feeling to see the student that sits in the last row, who doesn’t ever have a book, notebook etc and is treated as an invisible person by the teachers participate. Furthermore, a boy Simon who is a constant disruption to class and is what you could call a class clown showed up to the lesson with a book today. He did his work, and was on task the entire time. When he answered the question properly, I went up and shook his hand. He gave me a big dimpled grin and said your shocked aren’t you? Not shocked Simon, just pleased.


To cap off the long day at school I walked outside to see two fifth grade boys attempting to play frisbee. I let them borrow my frisbee after club and the three of us played frisbee in front of our school in the nice cool fall air. It was a great day. It’s nice to be back.


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Perfect Weekend Getaway

As I was laying in my couch bed reading, my host sister Ludymilla came in and sat down. She does this often so I didn’t think anything of it. I scooted over so she could comfortably sit and we talked about  life. About an hour into the conversation she slyly slipped in that tomorrow after my run I should pack a backpack with my running shoes because I would go home with her for the weekend. I immdeiately thought I must have misunderstood her because she always says she is embarrassed and does not want to show me where she is from. I started to sit up and realized by her nervous manner that she had been waiting a long time to tell me this and had mustered the courage to right now. I had a huge smile on my face and asked when we would be leaving on Friday. We worked out the details and that night it took me a while to fall asleep. I was like a little kid so excited to be invited home to hervillage, to meet her family, to get away for the weekend.

Friday afternoon came and Luda burst through the door telling me to hurry up. I threw my toothbrush, running shoes, brownie mix, and pj’s in a bag and we were out the door and on a bus in no time to Petropovlosk. It was her father’s 55th birthday and, therefore, she wanted to pick up some treats from the bazaar before heading out to her village. It is custom in this country to bring some sort of sweets when visiting, so, I bought a chocolate cake for the birthday party. Our hands were full and we crammed onto the bus. We had to stand the 30 minutes out to her village, because there weren’t any available seats. The Friday evening buses were usually full with people commuting out to their villages for the weekend. We got off the bus in the middle of nowhere. Literally all we passed were fields and cattle. When the bus creeped into her village there was no marking or anything signifying a village. We walked about five minutes and all I know was I was looking at the ground to avoid stepping in cow manure when I was suddenly engulfed in a huge hug from this tiny old woman who came up to my shoulders. She was kissing my face and squeezing me. I looked up to see Ludas house. It is a small house with with so much character. I couldn’t help but smile. Finally, I felt like I was in the Peace Corps. First of all, right in front of the house are tons of ducks, then you walk to the side and there is a huge bench made out of tree stumps. I sat down and was greeted by two kittens chasing each other. To my delight I picked up a kitten and was excitedly holding it when another popped out from behind the bench. There are six cats to be exact, three kittens, and three grown cats.

The village doesn’t have running water and whenever they need water they must walk down the street with a huge silver container that they wheel on a sort of cart. They then distribute this water to a pump that pumps out water into a huge bathtub. From the bathtub they further distribute the water to a bucket in the house for dishes, the banya when they decide to bathe, and all of the animals. It is quite the process.

After my first 10 minutes of standing around and talking it was time to change into work clothes. We swept the barn, while Ludas mother fed all the chickens and the cow. The cows name is Marta and she is a diva. Every time she comes back home from strolling the pastures in the village she stands outside of the gate and moos fervently until Tanya (Ludas’ mother) meets her at the gate and walks her in. They have a dog named Tolstey which means fat in Russian and he is tied up on a chain at all times. When we were sweeping the barn they were saying how it was so interesting he wasn’t growling at me because he growls at everyone. I thought ha ha I will show you, I love dogs, before you know it he will be eating out of my hand. Fast forward 20 minutes. They told me to wait a second while they put Tolstey in the shed so I could walk by to the garden. I got ahead of myself and didn’t wait far enough away. Tanya who is an older woman and walks with a limp luckily had super powers and before I even knew what was happening threw me out of the way. I was about to be Tolstey’s little snack. Lesson learned- dogs in Kazakhstan are not my friendly yellow labs back home.

The next day was spent preparing food for Ludas’ fathers birthday. We made all sorts of Kazakh salads. Salads here have such delicious vegetables and look tasty until you see the gallons of mayonnaise they douse them with. They also decided to kill two ducks for the big feast. The day before I had noticed one poor duck who was walking with a limp. While I was sitting outside in the grass peeling potatoes I had just dug out from the garden Luda sat next to me with a duck missing its head and dripping blood. I used all my might to not let her see my reaction and act like this is a normal every day occurrence for me. She sat next to me with blood dripping on her from the neck that was just chopped off and plucked the feathers off the duck. I tried to talk about anything to distract me from the sight of the feathers being pulled out revealing the peach skin of the duck when I realized this duck had one foot so, therefore, it was the poor duck with the limp. I made a mental note, don’t eat the duck (sad thing is I had to because when it was forced at me during the meal I didn’t want to be rude and refuse the meat the provided for the feast). With all of the traditional dishes, and preparing the table for their relatives I added a surprise of brownies from America. I am not even sure everyone loved the taste, but I was so happy to have a taste of a brownie after a year and her family was very proud to have something from America to offer their guests. The birthday party was fun. There was vodka shots (once again stuck to the juice), dancing, an old Russian accordion, and a photo shoot with her Uncles and I. The sad part about the night was the drunk cousin who showed up with his friends. He apparently has a severe alcohol problem and killed the mood for everyone there. Unfortunately, a problem in many villages in this country is alcoholism. More on that at another time.

The next day we all woke up early, think farm life, and had breakfast. I went out on my training run while the entire family went into the fields to gather potatoes. I ran for two and half hours and saw them in the same place as where I left them. I felt guilty. I couldn’t believe the hard work these old women were doing. I mean back breaking exhausting work, but they have to do it in order to survive. They need these potatoes to eat through the winter. It really made me think about certain luxuries I have grown up with and certain opportunities I have been granted. People here can’t simply run for fun. There time and energy is working on surviving. I helped with the potatoes after my run and was exhausted. These babushkas are strong women! One thing that I loved to see was that most people in the village were out helping each other with the potatoes. So the old women that don’t have any family left but still need food had the help of others in the village. It is like they all really came together to communally help each other out.
Luda’s family is what you would call a poor family. She told me stories of times when they didn’t even have forty tenge cents to buy a loaf of bread. Most of what they eat is from what they grow in the garden or raise as livestock. It was amazing how resourceful they are and the closest to self- sustainable I have seen. I did get a look into why the whole family is incredibly thin. Its because they eat frugally in order to make what food they have last. With my training I am hungry all the time. They eat two meals a day and the second one was a water based soup with some potatoes and cabbage. I was starving and gulped down the cup portion of soup. When her mother put some leftover mayonaisey salads on the table I was embarrassingly shoveling corn and who knows what else salad into my mouth. Gluttonous American as a result got food poisoning and spent the entire night puking in the toilet. At least I was back to my host families house with an indoor toilet. There is nothing worse then being sick as a dog in a foreign country when all you want is to be left alone and not have a host mother barking things at you in Russian.

This little getaway was my most Peace Corps experience in the fact that this is what I thought I would be living when I signed up for Peace Corps. I got a glimpse at small village life. I got to meet Ludas’ family and thus am able to get a bigger picture of her life and world. I used to not think our lives were so different when we were sitting on the couch eating cookies and laughing over the meaning of an American song. After seeing how hard she works when she goes home on weekends to ‘relax’ and experiencing her life for a mere two days I would be naive to say our lives before this past year were not that different. We may both rent a room in the same house in Bishkul, but we come from very different backgrounds. All in all, it was a remarkable experience food poisoning aside and I am looking forward to when I get to go again.

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First Bell Ceremony

The last few weeks of August I was bored out of my mind. Boredom led into missing my family and questioning what I was doing here. I would find myself on runs trying to think of a purpose for being in Kazakhstan. I kept telling myself to just wait until the school year started and everything would get better. On September first all schools begin with a first bell ceremony. All students dress up in their uniforms, boys in suits and girls in maid like uniforms with big white boys. There are balloons involved, singing, dancing, speeches, and clapping off rhythm to the music. As I walked up to my school the students were already gathered in their classes outside and began yelling my name and jumping up and down. I couldn’t help but fight back a smile to see these kids.  I went around giving hugs and saying hello to everyone and felt a little bit better about being in Kazakhstan.

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One Year in Kazakhstan

The other day while laying in a field of wild flowers, tall prickly grass, buzzing insects, and grazing cows I was deliberating over the fact that I have become so comfortable in my life in Kazakhstan. I can’t believe I actually said that.  If someone would have told me this is where I would be a year ago or even six months ago I would not have believed them. The fact of the matter is, I have found my own little slice of paradise in Kazakhstan. I have found this amazing running route through fields that go on forever or 18 miles worth is what I have tested thus far. I have a beat up old table with stumps for chairs to the side of my house where I like to go sit and study Russian or just kick it with my 82 year old neighbor who is an old Soviet war veteran and has no teeth. His infectious laugh brightens my day every time, and the conversation is never dull.  I have the two local shops I go to if I need fruit, juice, or chocolate and I am friendly with the people who work there. I have befriended the people living around me and have a sanctuaary of a room where I can escape when all the attention and questions get to be overwhelming. My bed is a couch, but its a comfy couch and the best part is my host mother had a shelf built into the wall for all my books. My room has a connecting balcony with a soft mat on the floor. It is perfect for parking for the day and getting lost in a good book.
August 18th marks one year in Kazakhstan. эй мой эй!!! Its been quite the year. I don’t know if I have any profound revelations yet, perhaps that will come when I am removed from this experience. It definetly has been an adventure, and a test of my strength.
On the 18th my host sister thought we must celebrate and we went into the city to have a beer. This was huge because every night we sit at home talking or working in the garden. It was a great time, we were the only ones at the bar and we had a beer and shared chechel,which is like smoked cheese in strings. We sat there talking about life, love, and dreams. There was one point when she got a bit emotional and it made me tear up. It was a typical girl moment but she was saying its amazing how we have lived together now for eight months in the same house and gotten to know eachother very well. Even though she didnt know a single word of English and I was limited in my Russian we really do understand each other. There is not a topic we cant discuss. It was just one of those moments where you look at the situation and are amazed by the relationships formed through very different cultures and languages. Ludmilla has had a positive impact on my first year here and has really helped me get through some of those hard times.
My host mother is currently visiting a girlfriend in Germany. The second I loaded her bag in the taxi and walked into the house, I bolted the door and started dancing. This was the first time I had been alone for a whole year. I was like a highschooler with parents out of town, but instead of throwing a wild party, I listened to music while cooking what I wanted to eat, I drank tea in my room, and I showered for more than two minutes. It was out of control.
The first two days were amazing, but I started to miss my host moms presence barking at me for turning the water on too high, or not eating enough of whatever she put in front of me. I thoroughly enjoy our conversation over chai after every meal.
Since the host mama is gone the burden of the garden is in my hands. I have been spending my evenings watering everything, picking the abundance of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, zuchinni, and apples. There is so much fresh food it is overtaking the balcony. One night I decided I wanted to make a huge pot of spaghetti sauce and apple jam to can for this winter. I emailed my Grandmother, got a recipe and got to work. I was chopping, slicing, and dicing everything, listening to music and having a grand ol time. I had made a huge, bubbling pot of sauce with onions, peppers, zuchini, garlic and tomatoes. I also fried eggplant and zuchini, and boiled pasta. While I was just finishing up the preperation the water decided to go out. This happens from time to time and usually comes back within a few hours. I looked around at the bomb that went off in the kitchen and laughed to myself of the inconvenience of not having water at the moment. Regardless, I sat down to my feast and wasnt even that hungry, because when I cook I like to share my meals with people. Eating alone just isnt that fun. I ate and went to read. Before bed I decided the water must be on and went downstairs ready to tackle the mess in the kitchen. No water. This is where I started to panic. I did not like the idea of going to bed without cleaning up. That wasnt an option, so reluctantly I went to bed.
The next morning I got up and walked down to go turn on the tea kettle and prepare breakfast before my long Sunday run. I walked into the kitchen and saw the disaster beckoning me, went to the sink, and in utter disbelief no water. This would be fine if I was in America and we had more than two pots, but both of the pots were full of nasty caked on spaghetti sauce and oil from frying eggplant. I ate some bread and luckily had a back up nalgene full of water so I chugged that and decided I would go on my run to get my mind off of not having water. I figuered 18 miles would make me stop worrying about the lack of water and when I come back it would surely be on.
I ran 18 miles and was covered in dirt and absolutely exhausted. Of course there was no water, but I was too tired to care. I sprawled out  on the floor and drank the rest of the water bottle. This wouldnt have been such a problem if I didnt live in the center of my village. Everyone in the center has running water in their houses and, therefore, there are no pumps in the streets. The outskirts have the pumps in which people wheel a huge barrel out to fill and that is how they get water each day. Since, I didnt have that option I sluggishly dragged my limbs to the store and bought two 5L containers of water. It was really hard for me to do this because I didnt want to waste bottled water to wash off my feet and face, and clean a spoon and plate to eat with. Plus, it was such a waste of plastic but I needed water.
My host sister, who lives at my house from Monday through Friday, knocked on the door Monday morning. I opened it and in a panic talked about how we hadnt had water for three days. She laughed and quickly put me in my place. It never seizes to amaze me how I think I have learned a lot and am really independent when situations occur here and I am reduced to a toddler yet again. It had been my one year mark and I was thinking I was getting the hang of this life when something small refuted that. Anyways, she filled a little bowl with water and it was like a snap of the fingers. She was cleaning the entire kitchen like no big deal. As she was doing it, she had a smile on her face and said her village doesnt have water at all so this is how she lives. She said we needed to buy more of the 5L containers and the water would surely come on soon.
That night she informed me that everyone in our village was talking about the water outage and speculating as to when it would come back. I kept asking why we didnt have it and she just laughed. Its Kazakhstan, she informed me with a grin. We deliberated on how to make dinner using the least amount of water as possible. We decided on washing tomatoes and cucumbers and eating fresh veggies for dinner.
I was obsessing over not having water and how limiting it was, when I reached a point where I was fine with it. I could put water in a cup to brush my teeth, and we were making it work for cooking. I went to bed thinking I dont need water, its all good. I’m fine.  Of course, the next morning I woke up to my host sister screaming spaznikam, meaning its a holiday because the water came back. It was day four and the water came back.

Here are some pictures representative of my August~

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