Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Enjoy the pictures. Here's what they are:
1. a view of the village- one of the small lake areas
2. Erin and Me with our Kant host moms and new counterparts after swearing in ceremony
3. My house in the village
4.-5. various views of the village
6. Me and the oldest two kids
7. Me with the my village parents
8. Me and my counterpart in Kant
9. My host dad and his huge fish that he caught in the lake
10. My host dad and the older kids
11. My Kant mom and little brother
12. Me and Ascat in the Kant park during my last night there
13. Nurila and Cezem on the horse that visited us in the village
14. the beautiful fall trees near the school
15. A picture of the village wide party that happened at the end of September

The Trials of a Dog Bite

It finally happened. On a cool beautiful fall morning I was walking to my Kyrgyz teacher's house to finally have a lesson. I had searched high and low for a teacher and patiently tried to deal with the frustrationg thing called Kyrgyz time. Finally a date and time were made. So that Monday morning i set out for the lesson. I arrive and the gates open- which means cone on in. So I do. I walk into the house, look around, walk around the yard no one is there. I sit outside on the bench for about 10 minutes to wait. I thought maybe she was at a neighbors or somewhere else and came in the back. I walk once more into the house area, look around and see no one and turn to leave. I get around the corner when suddenly I feel something at the back of my leg. I turn around to see their dog which up to that point had been completely docile bearing fangs and right up on me. It took a few seconds for me to realize I'd just been bitten by their dog. He was vicious and I scrambled out of there as fas as possible. I sat on the bench and sexamined the wound and immediately knew I had a problem. He had broken the skin which meant a trip to PCMO for post rabies prophelaxis shots. That's what I dreaded. I didn't want to go and I didn't know how to get there.

Medical said they wanted me there right away. In a coutnry where time is slower and transportation an issue that is a lot harder than it would seem. Nevertheless I packed a bag while trying to remember what I needed and still forgetting tons and set out to tell my family. Alas, they're no where to be found and so I leave a message for them. My first lef of the trip invovles flaging down a ride to the city. That's quickly accomplished although another guy from the village comes with me and he knows I'm one the Kyrgyz volunteers. He begins to talk to me and I understand about 1/3 of what he says. Yet, the entire time I'm thinking, "Just stop talking to me." 30 minutes later we part ways and now I'm faced wit hthe task fo transport to the capital. After some negotiation and translation of Russian into Kyrgyz I head out... four hours after the initial bite. Ha!

Now suddenly I'm faced with the task of getting to the office. WIth the help of the wonderful K-15s and the bus driver I get off on the right street. I got turned around only once and 30 minutes later I find myself at the PC office having just walked through a beautiful park filled street and talking with another stressed filled volunteer. At 4:45pm I finally arrive at medical where the wound is cleaned, sterilized and treated and I'm given the first of 2 PEP shots. I then have to find the hotel and a food place on my own while it's getting dark and I'm totally sticking out like a foreigner. I find some food and wait for my marshuka. It arrive and I cram onto it and get funny looks because I'm speaking Kyrgyz and everyone thought I would speak Russian. A dozen or so more people then cram onto the bus and we continue to head out. All the while I'm trying to hold onto my bag and avoid being pickpocketed. 20-30 minutes later I get to the hotel, check in and drop onto the bed. Safe and sound.

A nice hot shower later (the one really good perk) and I'm finally able to sit down, relax and look back. What a day! So all in all a dog bit provides a few perks, an interesting story and some major additional stress.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

New Link

There is a newly posted 'Friendly Places' link in the left column. It is titled 'erinluabroad' and is the blog of fellow Peace Corps volunteer, Erin. Just "click" and enjoy!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"Eje" and Discrimination

10/ 16/ 08

So here in Kyrgyzstan they have a society based on age. The older you are the more respect you receive. They even have titles for it: “Eje” and “Byekay”. For instance, I call my counterparts Aral Eje and Gulmyra Eje because they are older than me. However, Erin I call Erin, not Erin Eje, because she is around the same age as me. So anyone around your age, or younger, you do not have to give the titles. Those older you do. Sounds easy enough right? Wrong. The weird part is with families and school children, at least it throws me every time. My siblings call me Dawn Eje because I’m older than them and it’s a sign of respect. That’s not too weird for me because it reminds me of “Auntie Dawn” with my nieces and nephew at home. However, the weird part is when I’m at the school and I have 17 year olds calling me Eje or Dawn Eje. It just throws me every time because it makes me think of the older women. I know it’s a sign of respect but it just throws me for a loop every time. I always do a double take whenever a young person calls me that and it’s not family. Oh well, it’s something I’ll quickly get used to and probably end up liking.

So on an entirely different note I want to talk about some discrimination Erin and I received here in country. Oftentimes in other countries Americans will encounter the rich American perspective. (Those of you who have traveled to third world countries, or anywhere in general will know what I’m talking about). Here in country they get tourists from Russia, Kazakhstan, China and Germany. These tourists usually have lots of money and so we constantly hit this attitude. We kindly explain we’re volunteers and are not getting paid and are not the rich Americans. Most people get it, well we had a driver the other day that didn’t get it. We were coming back from the city after meeting with PC doctors for flu shots. The normal price for a ride back is 30 soms. We had been trying to get a ride for about 20 minutes and so when we got a driver finally to stop he said 40 soms. Since we’d been there for a while we agreed to this price. We tried to haggle it further down but he wouldn’t go. We get in the car and proceed back to the village. A few minutes later we stop and pick up another person. We find out she’s also from our village and is in fact the lady that we see whenever we go running (we run right by her house). She gives the driver 20 soms and he accepts that. We then are upset and say that we’re all from the same village and going to the same place and since she’s paying 20 we should only have to pay 20 each. The other passenger (the Kyrgyz village lady) tries to help us and get the price down but it’s to no avail. We explain we’re volunteers and not rich Americans but he won’t go for it and charges us 40 and her 20 just because we’re not native Kyrgyz. Ugh! Even speaking the local language and having her on our side was no use. Talk about frustrating! I told my family later and they were outraged and said that was just wrong, especially since there was another person from the village in the car. Erin and I later thought the driver might not have lowered the price because he didn’t want to have to admit that two non-natives were actually right about the price and did actually know what we were talking about. It’s hard to deal with sometimes but it makes you think about those who are discriminated against in America and why it happens. It’s the first time I’ve ever been discriminated against because of my skin color. It’ll happen again, I know that, but it doesn’t make it any easier. At least now I know how it feels and can better serve those that are too affected by it. So, guys, keep your eyes and ears open and be willing to accept all.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Change in Yourself

October 10, 2008

So having been in country for around four months now there’s several changes I’ve already begun to notice within me. Firstly, hygiene and the necessity of it quickly changes and is such a subtly done change that you at first don’t even notice and then one day you wake up to realize that you haven’t had a bath in two weeks and that four days without washing your hair really is not a big deal. Also, wearing multiple layers is not a big deal by any means and that sleeping under three blankets actually feels really nice. I’ll never starve and yet sometimes I crave the weirdest things and have realized some of the stuff I eat here I’d never really eat in the States. I never ate as much ice cream in the states as I did here over the summer. I’ve gotten used to onions in my food and realized that I really miss a nice cold glass of milk. Juice is sorely missed and is expensive to buy here but yet one learns how to cope and deal with the not haves. That leads to another point. It’s absolutely how amazing the technological conveniences that are available in the states are forgotten or disregarded. Sure sometimes I think having a microwave or washing machine would be great but it’s just a brief fleeting moment. Most of the time the thoughts never even enter my mind and I just deal with not having a stove, washing machine, English tv or a microwave. Even not having running water in the house no longer causes any big shock. People don’t have it, and they deal with it in other ways. So I, too, do. The interesting thing though is just how quickly these changes occur and how oftentimes we don’t even realize it’s happening. People just showing up whenever they want to is a natural part of life here and guesting (visiting other people’s houses for food and fun) can last until all hours of the night.

Yet there are still many things I struggle with, and probably always will. The primary one, besides language and general culture, is their attitude towards work. It is so completely different from anything I’ve seen before. They all claim work is important and want to have jobs yet they never seem to be taken seriously. Their jobs are the first thing to be thrown aside and there’s always days off for something. In the states we’d never get a day off because we were tired or family was in town or because we were celebrating the 100th birthday of a famous doctor. This happens here and oftentimes they happen for no obvious reason,they may just be feeling sick that day and so won’t work. This attitude is often hard to deal with because it’s so contradictory to what we have in the states. But again I find myself starting to take it all in stride and to realize some things are the way they are.

I’ve realized that even thought it’s extremely cold at 2 in the morning the sky is absolutely beautiful and is one reason why that trip to the outhouse is bearable. I’ve realized that I really do live in the best part of Kyrgyzstan with the second largest alpine lake in world to my south and the absolutely gorgeous rolling mountains to my north and prairie/desert land in between. I’ve realized donkeys really are an interesting animal and Russian tv is just as bad as some American tv. I’ve realized I really do have two great counterparts and an awesome family. Sure there are some parts that can be frustrating and other parts that are great. I’m sure we can all say that to some extent. Look around you and see what you can learn. Until next time: