Sunday, October 30, 2005

hey, this is gonna be a quick one

hey all. i'm in beautiful metropolitan shymkent as i write to you now. i'm on an adventure with my fabulous site-mate ann. she has to buy a train ticket, and i wanna watch her do it. yes, life in the stan is so exciting that this is my sunday entertainment.

so, yesterday i had my ''halloween party'' with my english club -- but i can hardly justify calling it a party because it was just me, ann, two girls from my club, a history teacher and the guy that runs the little shop at my school. but here's what i learned from my holiday experience: if you don't have an oven, it's impossible to bake pumpkin bread. and pumpkin bread dough makes very tasty pancakes (or in russian: tickvei blini). i also learned that when you bring pumpkin pancakes to a school, random strangers sit down to eat them and insist that you drink massive amounts of congac because, after all it is a holiday somewhere. but all in all my holiday was fun, even when my host mom thought halloween was over and cooked my jackolantern for dinner. i ate some of it, but i couldn't enjoy it. i felt like i was eating a steak made from the little calf that i raised from infancy.

so, anyways, i said this was gonna be quick, and i wasn't lying. i gotta get to the train station (or vakzal as we say in russian) and watch a foreigner buy a ticket to uralsk!

much love! (and i promise the next post will be longer and full of witicisms!)

ps-- i wrote this post last week, but for whatever reason, the internet cafe that i went to sent me to the blogger website in german, and instead of trying to go to an english version, i convinced myself that i could in fact read german. that being said, i accendently saved this post as a draft instead of publishing it. oops.

update, ann didn't buy her ticket on sunday, she waited until tuesday and hence, i did not get to watch her buy it. that made me sad. conversely, i did get to watch ann buy a coat at the bazaar, which made me happy. she bought a grayish coat. i helped her by speaking russian. i think that the coat-selling guy thought i was her keeper or something. i'm not though, i'm just a nosey, back-seat coat buyer. just wathcing wasn't enough for me -- i'm totally hands on at the bazaar!! ok. . .anyways, now i am in shimkent again for martha's housewarming and then to 'watch' some of my students take an english test.

next week is my fall break for school. i don't have to teach anything to anyone for a whole week! hoorah! i do, however, have to go to school every morning, from nine until one for. . . i don't really know why, but i have to go. but i have all afternoon to put the spices sent to me by aunt marla, gramma lyn and dad to good use. i hope i can do some justice to american cuisine (if there is in fact, such a thing. . . )

anyway, that's about it, for now. i hope that enough exciting stuff happens to fill another post soon!

Monday, October 17, 2005

dropping the communication ball

gosh, what's my deal? i'm slipping when it comes to keeping you fine people up to date on my crazy journey in the former ussr. and hold onto your seat, because this is a real life, adventure-packed post i've got to give you all today. if only i were better at updating. . .

adventure the first: last weekend (as opposed to this past weekend. try to keep up, people.), about ten of us volunteers went camping. i mean, real camping. we slept outside, under the stars, we cooked our dinners on a fire that we made, started and maintained ourselves. it was great. the purpose of this camping trip was to see the ruins of the old walled city of sauram. apparently, it was built sometime in the 16th century as an outpost on the silk road, but was raised, pillaged and otherwise destroyed by the mongols or the huns or somesuch group of roaving, horse-riding ass-kickers. when this city was destroyed, it stayed that way. apparently, there is an old sauramese saying that goes, "to hell with it, we're moving over there!" and true to their word, the people of old sauram built new sauram at an acceptable distance from their demolished city.

the best thing about these ruins, was that they were basically ignored for the next couple hundred years. when we walked around the city, you literally had to try to not step on old pottery shards. there were archiologists there that were excavating, so the good people of the kz are into preserving their history -- but we were allowed to camp just outside of the city gates. after we were done doing our camping thang, we drove to the city of turkistan where there is this super famous and equally holy mausolium. no joke, muslims here say that visiting this mausolium two times is equal to visiting mecca. i don't know what the official muslim word on that topic is, but i'm gonna take the kazakh's word for it on that one (which means i'm half way to salvation and paradise! hoot hoot.)

of course the trip wasn't all ancient walled cities and salvation. . . on the way to old sauram, our marshrutka broke down and we were stopped by the police four times. apparently having an out of town license plate on a marshrutka full of americans driving through the deserts of kazakhstan draws attention. . who knew?

adventure the second: on saturday (we're talking two days ago) i went with my english club and my counterpart's homeroom class to this really cool cave and we spealunked! i'm not talking like cave exploring in america where you have a guide and a safe, paved walkway with handrail and electric lights. oh no. this was real cave exploring, we had a guide and all, but we were definitely in the dark with candles, grabbing onto the walls to keep from getting lost in the caves. and we were allowed to touch everything and take shiny rocks from the cave. there was really only one downside to this adventure. after caving for a good two hours, the students decided to continue our adventure be WALKING 10 KILOMETERS HOME THROUGH THE BACK COUNTRY AND FOOTHILLS! now you know me, i don't like to complain. but i walked for a long time and my tooties were all hurt-y when i got back home.

but it was fun and super worth it. . .

oh, now onto other things, i hate to sound needy but i have another wish (gimme) list:

i still need/want videos or movies from america
any cooking spices would be great
thanksgiving paraphanilia and special food fixings (i can get most of the foods here, but spices are harder to come by)
cookie cutters shaped in holiday designs (any holiday, i'm stocking up here)
any holiday decorations
tights (like pantyhose but thicker. . . and if you can find ashli-sized tights with fun designs to send, that would be even better)
maybe some longsleeve shirts or hoody sweatshirts or sweaters. . . winter, she's a comin'

i just want to end this post by saying, i do check all of your comments and sometimes i can't respond to them or send out emails, and i'm sorry. i do think of all of you every day and i want more than anything to see you all again. please dont' think i'm blowing you off. i guess what i'm saying, is if you're ever in the kz (between now and june of 2007) you have a place to stay. mwah! love to you all (especially ryan)