For our first 8 weeks of training, we’ve been living in a village called Krasnaya Rechka (Красная Речка). Named (in Russian) for the red river that flows nearby, there are about 6,000 people who live here. As reference, Krasnaya Rechka is about 1 hour – by marshrukta – east of Bishkek and about 1.5 hours west of our permanent site, Balykchy (Балыкчы).
Some of the highlights of our village include:
One primary/high school – where our host brother and sister, 11 and 10 years old, go to school
One boarding school – where our large group trainings take place
Two mosques – we can often hear the prayers from our home although our family doesn’t attend
A handful of mom and pop stores – all over the village and all selling the same stuff
One chain grocery store and a small bazaar – we never really shop at the bazaar, although we once bought sweet potatoes that looked like dirty carrots…they turned out to be dirty carrots
Some of the quaint characteristics of our village life:
PST hasn’t been all about language learning and technical skills training. We’re also trying to integrate with our families and communities, which basically means have fun with them! Here are a few things we’ve been doing the past week or so:
Our host mom was telling us about this concert that was going to be on TV by her favorite musician, Thomas Anders (self-proclaimed “Gentleman of Music”). She was super excited and made sure we knew we were going to be watching it and maybe drinking a bit. It turned into a pretty hilarious dance party in the dining room. The music was fairly terrible, but I guess they love him here. Thankfully, no vodka shots tonight.
One evening, during one of our village walks, we passed by our host sister and some of her friends who were hula hooping. When we returned home, the hula hoop had made it into our backyard. Taylor went out to take part in the fun, only to find our host mom taking a try at it. It was pretty amusing as the hula hoop was passed around and each person showed what they were made of. We’ve really come to appreciate some of the small things that don’t require much language proficiency – this was definitely one of them.
It’s been about a week and there have been a ton of changes. All of our bags ended up arriving to the resort so we were able to relax a bit and enjoy getting to know our new colleagues, the food and learn about the culture. The three days spent in Issyk Kul were filled with language lessons and short training sessions on various aspects of being a volunteer in the Peace Corps. On the 30th, it was time to leave the resort and head to Kant (my guess on the English spelling) for the matching ceremony. This is when all of us volunteers get to meet our new host families for the duration of PST (about two months.) Taylor and I didn’t know until we arrived at the ceremony but we were paired with the same family and they are great! Immediately following the ceremony we had a fun adventure trying to cram all of our stuff in the van along with another volunteer (our friend Tamara, who lives in the same village) and back to our new house in the village of Krasna Rechka.