Friday, May 6, 2011

TiK (this is kazakhstan)

and the unexpected adventures came. and it was wonderful.

first of all, i forgot to mention that last weekend i got to spend an entire weekend living like an expat in almaty. we went to almaty with my kazakh class to practice train vocabulary at the train station. afterwards kat and i decided to stick around and grab a taxi back to ecik later. it was fabulous. we walked (forever) to the new pizza hut! in almaty. i had myself a personal pan pizza with pepperoni, a pepsi, and kat and i split garlic cheese bread. it was pricey for me, 1000 tenge. (only like 7 bucks at home). and it tasted like america. it was a fabulous break for my stomach. after pizza hut we went on a shortened version of a walking tour of almaty. we saw the monument of independence & i put my hand on nazerbayev's golden hand. this is the hand that is printed on every tenge bill here. we also saw great buildings, a statue of abai, and tulips! we eventually made it to a winding road surrounding by towering green trees. it was beautiful. at the end of the road we reached café delia. it is a fabulous coffee shop with wifi! kat and i ordered a coffee (mine was espresso, icecream, and whipcream) and sat on a hip and trendy bench outside. we stayed there for a couple hours and just enjoyed the weather and feeling like normal people for a while. it was a wonderful break.

back to the new advenutres:

after the first earthequake there were like five or six more. my mom said something to me in kazakh about 9 or 10 pm at night and then said she wasn't going to sleep. i laughed and said me too. i thought we were talking about being so scared we couldn't sleep. i left the house and went to the café with some other trainees. i got a call at the café from tommy at about 9 telling me that he thought my mom was looking for me. i immediately headed home…i have been trying to avoid getting in any more trouble with my host mom here. when i got home the house was empty. i thought it was odd, but i was so tired i just changed into jammies and crawled into bed. (yes, i got to bed around 9:30 here. sometimes as early as 8. don't judge me. =] ) an hour later my host mom came in my room and flipped the lights on. she told me to get out of bed and get dressed. i asked where we were going and she just kept saying, 'now!' so i hopped out of bed and pulled on my sweat pants and my host was like 'no! jeans! it's cold.' this was my first indication that we were leaving the house. since i learned from the last time i was taken away abruptly, i grabbed my purse, a change of clothes, and water and followed her out the door.

on the way down the stairs she pointed at each door and told me that each apartment was empty. she sent my host sister to the village where her parents live for the night. she led me to the little store that is beneath my apartment complex and into the back where i think a friend of hers lives? i asked here what we were doing and she said that we were waiting for the next earthequake to come. i asked how long and she said maybe midnight. i was exhausted and in disbelief. you can't predict earthquakes. but the entire area was convinced it was coming and we should wait for it. better safe than sorry i guess. though i'm not sure how being in the store at the bottom of a crumbling arptment complex would turn out well for me. finally at 2 am, after falling asleep at the kitcehn table, my host mom took me back to my bed.

she was clearly scared and slept with all the lights in the apartment on all night. a big deal here in kaz since electricity is so expensive. the earthquake did come. at 2:30 am. turns out my mom knew what she was talking about. it wasn't a big deal and i didn't even roll over in my bed. my host mom wanted me to come outside with her, but i told her i would be fine. i'm glad i did. josh had to go outside with his family and he didn't get back in until 4:30 am. 7:30 am comes too fast for that.

we were super lucky though, we got to take a bus to medeo in almaty the next morning with all the other trainees. it was simply amazing. on the bus ride into almaty in the morning my mom texted me and gave me the news about bin laden. the trainees were buzzing. when we got to almaty our country director met us there and chit chatted with us for a bit. it was weird to see him out of his dress clothes. he is really cool, and it was nice of him to stop and hang out with us for a bit.

medeo is the famous skating rink in the mountains in almaty. i had heard that the rink was actually closed so i was a little confused about what we could possibly be doing there for a day, but a whole day without lang. classes or technical sessions and i didn't really care. once we got there i learned that there is actually quite a lot of 'hiking' to do. the big catch was that it was only 800 steps to get up to the hiking area. at first i thought i could totally handle the stairs. after about step 250 i realized how exhausted being sick the week before had made me. i could barely stand. my cheerleaders, carrie and cody, stayed with me the whole way and got me to the top. they had a hard time convincing me not to stop at the halfway point and just have a beer. i made it though. i have to say the view from the top was rather disappointing. it was beautiful, but i don't know that it was 800 steps beautiful. what was awesome was the man with the eagle.

in kaz, hunting on horses with giant eagles was very popular. before coming to kaz my sister and i read a children's book about kaz and they had pictures of this. i was like 'i have to do this'. it looked just like the bad guy from mulan. when i saw the eagle sitting on the bench there was no hesitation. i paid about 2 dollars to have my pic taken with the eagle. it was the best tourist trap i have ever enjoyed. and let me tell you, those eagles are heavier than they look.

after playing with the eagle we went 'hiking'. there was a path that wrapped around and got you to the valley, but of course my group of friends decided that it would be much faster to slide down the side of the mountain covered in rocks and glass. & of course i couldn't say no. arthur and elizabeth went first and their struggle made carrie and i think twice. but then cody went down another way that looked super easy. so we followed his path. clearly cody is just much more talented at sliding down mountains. we finally made it to the bottom with all of us safe and sound.

we spent the day wandering around the area like explorers. we climbed buildings and rocks. jumped over, waded, through, and a few people(cough, cough) even fell in the stream. the weather was warm and beautiful. it was the perfect relaxing day. although at some point following elizabeth and carrie through a tunnel of brush and trees or hopping over the stream to get back to the other side i lost my jacket. :( hopefully someone else is enjoying it now. i also didn't think about the fact that it was super hot and sunny. those of you that know me now know what color my skin is. i'll give you a clue it's not tan and it starts with an r and ends with a d. =)

after our trip to medeo, the rest of the week was pretty low key. on thursday for our last english club we were planning on showing and discussing the fantastic mr. fox, but our plans were derailed by a surprise thank you performance from our students. they sang songs (or lip synced) in kazakh and english, including the remix 'we are the world, we are translators'. they danced, acted out plays, made speeches, quizzed us on american history (which we failed miserably), and even had us stand up and dance the black horse (the kazakh national dance?) in the middle of the room. it was really sweet and entertaining. our students also got us all gifts. my classes gave me a giant yurt that is very beautiful. like a big yurt dollhouse. which is perfect since my other class gave my a little kazakh doll, a little dombra, a little yurt, and a traditional looking purse. sweetest thing ever.

i taught my last class on friday. it was uneventful and a little boring i think, but i made it through. we also had our language test on friday. we will get tested like three more times during service to see how we are improving. i bombed mine i think. peace corps wants us all to test novice high by the end of pst. i'm pretty sure i may not have made that goal. i'm not really sure was happened. i speak ok kazakh in my classes. i always use full sentences and can usually use a good variety of vocab. not in that test. i'm pretty sure i just said 'i like' 100 times. nothing else. no complete sentences. i was just saying words. she asked me what i did the past weekend, and i told her i went to medeo. then she asked what i did there. i was like 'really?' i don't know how to say climbed stairs, hiked, swam, jumped in rivers. the only thing i could think of that i could say that i actually did do was drank beer & i didn't think that was appropriate. so i told her i looked at the mountains. except i didn't congugate anything so i actually just said. 'mountain looked'. awesome. i guess i can only go up from there now though right?

i find out where i am going tomorrow. i'll write a whole post just for that.

so nervous/excited,

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