Some people have asked where we live, what our permanent site actually looks like. Before I get into that, let me introduce you to a term… ‘Posh Corps.’ Dirt floors, laundry by hand and having to go fetch water from the river to drink are things people think of as the norm for us volunteers. People often think this term is a derogatory term used by people who want the ‘real’ PC experience where you are roughing it towards those volunteers who have some modern conveniences. As it turns out, our permanent site fits none of those stereotypical images and I’ve since come to realize that ‘Posh Corps’ is a phrase born out of jealousy. I’ve done laundry by hand here… it sucks. So here it is, a tour of our fairly posh, Peace Corps home.
As previously mentioned, our home is in Balykchy, a city on the Western edge of Issyk Kul, a huge alpine lake. Our home is closed by a large fence on all sides like most in Kyrgyzstan, especially common in cities. Inside the gates there are some differences between most of the homes I’ve been in and ours. Our property is mostly finished with clean concrete walkways separating grassy areas with fruit-bearing trees (cherry, apple, pear and apricots,) generally homes are surrounded mostly by dirt. It’s a pretty large plot for a city with a driveway on either side. The main house is 3 or 4 bedrooms, depending on how you define them, and several living areas. There is a separate apartment attached that goes unused now but a previous volunteer lived there.
Leaving Capitol Reef, we settled in for the long drive to Salt Lake City. We didn’t know much about the city, but we’d heard it was nice. We arrived in the city after 4 or 5 hours and plugged in the address of the AirBNB we were staying at. The place sounded fun, advertised as an urban farm with ducks, chickens, fresh eggs, and good company. We arrived not quite sure what to make of it. We must have been in the worst neighborhood in SLC (who knew they had those?) We walked in with the code given to us and were pointed to our room. It reminded us a bit o of being back in college (ok a lot) with handmade ‘furniture’ and clutter all over. Our room was clean and quiet enough, plus it was just one night, so we unpacked and went to find dinner.
At dinner we texted Kyle Dempster, the climber who made the video about his bike/climbing trip he took to Kyrgyzstan (Link to video) and lived in SLC, to see if he could meet that evening or tomorrow morning. He was available to meet the next morning, and we met him at Higher Ground, the coffee shop he co-owned. Kyle was the first person we met who had actually been to Kyrgyzstan, and it was awesome talking him and learning what his experience was like. He had great info for us and he also mentioned he would be returning to Kyrgyzstan later in September, perhaps we’d meet again.
After coffee we drove to Boise to stay with Eric’s longtime family friends, Larry and Sandi. We had last stayed with them on a previous road trip, and we knew it would be a nice evening (likely involving wine.) Sandi cooked us a nice meal, Eric enviously examined Larry’s new Corvette, and much wine was enjoyed. We’ve been so fortunate to have friends and family we’ve been able to stay with. Not only is it fun to have a bit of a farewell tour saying goodbye to people we won’t see for a couple years, but it’s great to get out of the hotel/camping routine and stay in a home.
We had a delicious breakfast the next morning and settled in for the drive home. We hoped to stop by the Tri-Cities to see a friend of Eric’s, but we were running low on time and had a growing list of items we had to take care of back home. We pressed on and made it home safe and sound. It was an awesome vacation. It was a bit crazy to think this was just the first half.