So I'm sitting at an Internet cafe here in Almaty. It's 8:35 in the morning. I'm exhausted. I had a terriffic time with my brother and mom over the past week. I wish I could just go back to Taraz and crash for the weekend, but I'm supposed to meet with some English theater people here in Almaty. We want to build on a budding program, and figure why not talk to the people with experience.
So... their trip. I wanted to show them my life here. Not Kazakhstan and all its grandeur. So no Astana, no Berevoi. What it's like for me. So we started in Almaty, where all PCTs start. We hit up the usual sites for us. We gostied my host family in Ecik. Ate ploaf. Then we platscarted it back to Taraz.
The train was great. I has been worried. Platscart! people would exclaim. You're going to make your mom ride platscart. But I love it, I would respond. It can be so much fun. Admittedly, it's different for a younger woman than for a younger guy than for a middle-aged woman. But anyway, Stephen and my mom loved it. We met some fabulous Russian sisters who were about my mom's age. We shared food, stories, and laughs.
Thursday, I actually had to work. Note that Peace Corps, I will be asking for that Leave Day back if I can manage it. My family saw the office, met all my coworkers, and then went off into Taraz with Amina. They saw the museum. I've been there for three months in Taraz, nine months in the region, and I still haven't seen the museum. I had wanted to go with them, but that's what happens when your family isn't interested in you doublechecking your budget figures. Thursday night we gulyatted in President's Park and played some windy ping-pong. It's a nice place to just walk around. Peaceful, lots of families and some young people. I wish it was closer to me though.
Friday was even better. My work went on a picnic. Note work again. It was with kids in our English classes, so we were giving them all-day English language practicum at the river near Asa. Swimming. Eating. Laughing. And a crazy crazy game of keep-a-way which I'm surprised we all walked away having survived. That night we tried shoshlik as well. (So by now, my family had tried (in this order): lagman, ploaf, doner kebob, manti, shoshlik. I was betting on the wedding for beshbarmark.)
Saturday was a quiet day in Taraz. We mailed some postcards, I paid my bills. They took me shopping. I passed on the super sweet mesh hawaiann shirt, but did pick up the white pointy shoes. Like I care the season for them is practically over. I'll wear them until the snow falls and pick them back up in the spring. Back to work, and then over to Acela's for dinner (gellupsie, a national, but oft-forgotten in my book, dish. We also tried kurt! Umm... yummy. It really does help if you think parmesean before you take a bite.) After dinner, we taught them Durak and my brother got to keep the deck of Russian cards we played with.
Sunday we made it to Catholic mass then gostied my host family in Baurzhan Momushylu. Their house was under remont (repair). I thought maybe that meant painting the walls. Nope. Everything was outside, the walls were stripped. They were redoing everything. So since we couldn't eat there, we ate lunch in yurt. Yurt experience, check! Kyrduck was served along with some Kymis. Kurduck was voted to be okay, kymis was tried, and not liked. Then we had our Kazakh wedding to go to. The invitation said 8:00. I knew that would be too early. 8:30 maybe? Nope, we waiting for an hour and a half. It started at 10:00. That was fun. I don't think they tried the kaza I tried to give them. And then the beshbarmark came. Awesome! We left at 2:00 and took a taxi home.
Our plans to go to a nature reserve Monday were thrown off by sleeping until 11:30. Stephen began feeling the effects of the local cuisine, and my mom and I ventured off on our own to see Aisha Bibi, Textormas, and the Old Banya museum. That museum needs to be added to lonely planet, and I apologize for not telling all past couch surfers about it. It's actually a really cool place, much more interesting that the rebuilt mouseleums the city usually boasts. Afterwards, we made tacos and had a quiet night in.
Tuesday was our last day. We gostied Asa to buy some korpusheis from Ainalain. Then we gostied at Salavat's. More beshbarmark. And finally the tomato-fried eggplant things. My mom loved them and said she'd make them in America. I said the same thing when I first tried them. After Asa, we said goodbye to people at my work, I got a haircut (keeping the mullet for now), and then went out to eat at a nice Georgia restaurant.
Wednseday we took a taxi to Almaty. Drink some coffee. Sat in a park. Had a subpar meal at a cafe and then we waited in the airport for seven hours as their flight was delayed. But now, they are in the air on the way home.
So that's what we did. It was a good summary of my life here. I think my next post will be maybe about some of those things in more detail or at least fillin in the thoughts and feelings that went along with them. Oh, and look out for some guest blogging from my mom and Stephen about what they thought about Kazakstan.