Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Local Transportation

Almalybak Lake

Merke (after my first snow)



My married friends. They're kind of cool, I guess. (Nick, Corinne, Katy and Seth)

Almalybak Language Group (I saw these guys 7 days a week practically all day long for 3 months) Seth, Katy, Leah, AC, and Jessie

Corinne and I at Swearing In Ceremony

I'm bringing Phase 10 to the world. Nick and Corinne's house.

The infamous dining room table at Nick and Corinne's house.


I've gone back and added pictures to some of the past few blogs. check 'em out.

40 Things I've Learned After 4 Months In Kazakhstan

Began October 30, 2008

1. Electricians are cruel. Every single light switch is a guessing game in Kazakhstan. They are never where they should be, and most often are found outside of the actual room which they illuminate. I stayed in an apartment in Almaty once and I couldn't find the lightswitch for the bathroom, finally I found a switch in the hallway, on the opposite side of the hall, that didn't seem to have a corresponding room or fixture, sure enough when I flipped the switch - ding! bathroom light turns on.

2. I appear to like music videos. Kazakhstanians like their television (I mean, they put a lot of Americans to shame). I don't watch TV in Kazakhstan, but because it's what you can find almost all Kazakhstanians doing at most hours of the day, especially in the evening, on occasion I will join them in front of the TV. In Almalybak when I walked into the TV room, all of my brothers sat up straight and grabbed the remote. Before I know it, we're watching the Kazakhstan MTV equivalent. Just music video after music video. I tried explaining that the Russian movie they were watching when I walked in was perfectly acceptable to me, but without fail, if I sit in the TV room - we watch music videos. I've stopped going into the TV room, it's just ridiculous.

3. MTV has made it to Kazakhstan. My Super Sweet 16 was playing on my counterpart's television the other day (dubbed in Russian) as was some dating show with a bus that was by no means educational or entertaining.

4. Bedding is meant to be used. If you are not sleeping, your bedding should not remain on your bed. Every morning I must strip my bed and place a blanket of sorts over my mattress. This blanket is only for show. (This was when I had a bed, now I take the blankets off of my COUCH).

5. School is a formal affair. 5 year old boys wear suits and ties to school. 5 year old girls wear pouf balls as big as a basketball in their hair. It's fashionable?

6. I can't cook. Everything here is made from scratch and the fact that I would consider buying my pasta noodles from a store is a disgrace to my gender.

7. Men are fascinated with America. My previous host dad was especially fascinated with my Dad in America. He wanted to know everything about him, and about my house (including what kind of heating we have).

8. "Breakfast" is a relative term.

9. Apartments are all about what's on the other side of that door. Every building looks like it could fall down at any moment and the corridors are something straight out of a horror film, but you walk inside someone's apartment and it's a palace.

10. Wine is consumed by the shot.

11. Water and electricity are never guaranteed. Anywhere.

12. "Superstitious" has a whole new meaning in Kazakhstan. Knock on wood. Spit over your shoulder three times. Never wipe a table with paper products. Don't whistle indoors. Don't pull loose hairs off of someone else's shoulder. Do not consider not wearing socks or slippers indoors.

13. If you don't understand, they will just say it LOUDER.

14. Even though it is technically called "toilet paper" the paper should never actually go inside of the toilet. That is why there is always a garbage can in the bathroom. (It took me being in an apartment in Almaty with other volunteers to figure this one out.) Fun times.

15. "American" foods are much more appealing in Kazakhstan than they are in America. I can't remember the last time I actually drank a Coke or ate a Snickers in the United States, but in Kazakhstan, I can't resist that Snickers bar in the magazine (Russian for store). What's that all about?

16. Dogs are not pets, they are doorbells.

17. In America there seem to be four options for milk: Non-fat, 1%, 2% and whole milk. In Kazakhstan there are three options: 3.2%, 6% and straight from the udder. I was a non-fat only drinker in the states, imagine my excitement...

18. A single "hard-boiled" egg can be considered dinner.

19. In the event of an earthquake, don't get UNDER furniture, just sit next to it. This is what we were taught during one of our safety and security sessions. They clearly wouldn't have survived Loma Prieta 1989. :) Either that or I need to throw my "Duck and Cover" training out the window.

20. There is always room for more tea. Always.

21. Barf is considered a high quality cleaning product in Kazakhstan. It's quite good at washing clothes and leaves them smelling fresh and clean.

22. No matter how much you eat, it is never enough. I'm convinced you have not eaten enough until you have actually become ill. This is the main reason the two Kazakh words I know and use every day are "full" and "finished".

23. There is no word for "sir" or "madam" unless you are addressing a judge or someone of royalty. They will look at you foolishly if you try using these words in every day speech.

24. Camels are domestic animals.

25. When a local learns you are from America, 8 times out of 10 they will respond with, "Oh, California!" (I wish I weren't from California so I could teach these people about some of the other 49 states). And when they do learn that you are from California, they always respond with "Arnold Schwarzenegger" and laugh hysterically. The word for governor in Russian is "guvernator" so it is even funnier to hear the locals say "Arnold Schwarzenegger Guvernator".

26. Sending a letter to the United States is not as easy as one might think. In Merke, I actually needed a translator AND a hand-written note to explain that this letter (addressed to the United States, in Russian) was to be sent to the United States.

27. Running in Merke is not acceptable. The first (and consequently only) time I went for a run in Merke, I was chased by a dog, followed by a car full of young men, and shouted at by a multitude of locals as I ran by. I had to turn around and head for home a mere 15 minutes from my front door because it didn't quite feel like a safe activity.

28. A shower is a luxury.

29. Korean restaurants in Taraz are apparently known for serving dog meat. I draw the line at horse! (which, for the record, is quite tasty)

30. It goes both ways: I have found that just nodding my head and saying "yes, yes, yes" through a conversation (even if you don't understand everything) usually makes life a lot easier. My host mom has now learned this trick, too. I found her responding to my questions (in Russian), which were not of the yes/no variety with "yes, yes, yes". When I looked at her quizically, she nodded seriously, and said, "yes, I understand".

31. If you try to play volleyball with a soccer ball, you will bruise your wrists, arms AND hands. Pumping up the soccer ball only makes this situation worse.

32. It's cool to wear tacky slippers.

33. The correct response to "Are you married?" is "No, I am not married. I DO NOT WANT to be married." And yet, most of the time you eventually have to say something to the extent of: "I'm sure your son is really wonderful. And yes, the fact that he doesn't smoke and doesn't drink are very wonderful qualities. Anyone would be lucky to have him. Thanks for selling me this loaf of bread. It was very nice to meet you."

34. Kazakhstan has a Santa Claus that wears blue instead of red. And he visits on New Year's Eve instead of Christmas Eve.

35. Couches are considered sufficient beds. Even if you happen to be 5'9" and your feet hang off the edge.

36. Americans are very efficient at an ATM machine. Be grateful for your ATM experience in America.

37. British English is a pain in my side.

38. If you are a Kazakh woman and you have passed the age of 21, it will be very hard for you to get married because you are now quite old.

39. You don't need a refrigerator for leftovers or salads, you just need a fairly cold room. We use our entryway (it isn't heated).

40. You can own a vehicle and a driver's license without knowing how to make a 3-point turn or turn on your headlights. I don't recommend traveling with said individual, it's quite terrifying.

Huber's Words of Wisdom

written December 15, 2008

Nick and Corinne Huber are two of my favorite people here in Kazakshtan (and not only because they have fed me pancakes and Mexican food - although it helps). In addition to being a couple of my favorites, they also have a Kazakhstan Peace Corps blog in action and I couldn't resist sharing the following post because it had me laughing out loud:


Check it out, along with some of the other blogs in the right hand column of this blogsite for those times when I can't adequately describe this crazy experience that is KZ Peace Corps. :)

Because I think they are so cool (and I want to be cool like them) I've started my own list. Stay tuned...

Making a Difference

written December 10, 2008

I had one of those "Peace Corps moments" this week. Last week I taught my 5th graders about "I have got" and "I haven't got" (yes, slightly British, we'd probably just say "I have" and "I don't have" but some things you just let slide). One of the activities I played with my students to get them using the phrases was a form of Go Fish.

I bought some playing cards at the bazaar and drew pictures of a bunch of the students vocabulary words (pen, pencil, book, computer, etc.). I pasted these pictures onto the cards and laminated them (with clear tape). Each student was dealt four or five cards and, in groups, my students proceeded to play "Go Fish".

All around the classroom these little kids were laughing and smiling and saying "Have you got a computer?", "No, I haven't got a book." "Yes, I have got a CD." I let them play for about 15 minutes because they were enjoying it so much - and hey, if my students are speaking English, then I'm doing my job. Then, I collected the cards and continued on with my lesson.

Well, this week, when I met with my 5th grade class again, one of the little girls (who struggles with English quite a bit) came up to me at the beginning of class just absolutely beaming. She reached into her pocket and pulled out some playing cards and handed them to me. She had made her own set! There on these 15 or so cards were pictures of pens, pencils, CDs, books, etc. - exact replicas of my own drawings.

Some days in Kazakhstan make all the difficult ones worth while. And it all boiled down to a set of playing cards and some pictures.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

More Pictures

Jealous yet?

Brendan, Nick and I (with Pancakes!)

My Counterpart, Symbat

My Soup!

My New House in Merke

Friday, December 12, 2008



Written December 5, 2008

I wasn't even missing home that much on Tuesday, but I was given a little taste of it anyways. I can now proudly declare that in the event of a fairly sizeable earthquake, my house is not going to fall down. Well, there are no guarantees for next time, but it held up just fine this first time. Being the daughter of a structural engineer I was indeed a little concerned to learn that Southern Kazakhstan lay on a fairly large faultline. I mean, there aren't exactly building codes in Kazakhstan, and I saw what happened to the Bay Bridge in '89.

I was at home, alone, on Tuesday morning boycotting my Russian tutoring lesson because chances are this would be the third session in a row that my tutor wouldn't show up for (don't worry I've found a new tutor), when suddenly the Mona Lisa in my room started to shake, and then the awkward topless woman painted on a piece of metal started making a lot of noise as she banged against my wall. It took a second for me to realize what was happening, and then I just had to smile. I was in Kazakhstan, but it was like I had been transported back to the Bay Area just so I could experience another earthquake.

Now, I've been fully trained (from a very young age) how one is expected to respond in an earthquake. But, had this particular earthquake occured in America, I'm not so sure I would have brought out the "duck and cover" tactics or made a move for the doorway. However, in Kazakhstan, you just never know how sturdy your structure is, and before I knew it I found myself standing in my doorway waiting for the shaking to be over. I heard a couple of things fall over in the other room, and to be honest I was kind of hoping it was a couple of those hideous fake plants my host mom has put up all over the house. After about a minute and a half the shaking stopped.

I had class shortly thereafter, so I didn't really have time to wait for an aftershock. I just grabbed my things and decided to start heading to school. And, I have to admit, I was a little curious how the Kazakhstanians would be responding to the earthquake on the streets. I was disappointed to see that there was little reaction when I made it out onto the street a mere 15 minutes after the quake. I grabbed a taxi to school (because I'm sorry when I can't feel my face I'm going to pay the 30 cents to get to class in less than 20 minutes) and for the first time since I've been in Kazakhstan, I was asked to put on my seatbelt! I realized later that this was because of the earthquake, but at the time I didn't know the word for earthquake (or for seatbelt, for that matter) so I just thought he was being particular forward-thinking. I happily strapped in and got to school safe and sound. On a side note, my driver only had nine fingers.

When I walked into the school yard, I saw that the entire building had been evacuated and was now standing in front of the school. I didn't have the heart to tell them that this would actually be a really horrible place to congregate your school children during an earthquake as most of the students were huddled underneath trees and there was a major electrical line running above them. But, I wasn't really concerned for an aftershock. We stood out there in the cold for about 15 or 20 minutes waiting for word from the regional center as to whether or not the students could be permitted back inside of the building.

During this time, one of my 8th grade students yelled at me "Miss James!" (yea, don't get me started) and then started shaking his whole body back and forth, presumably trying to simulate an earthquake. It was as though he thought that because I hadn't actually been in the school building with them that I hadn't felt the earthquake. (Maybe some earthquake training would be an appropriate secondary project?) My counterpart and another English teacher came running up to me as soon as I arrived and worriedly asked if I was OK and if I was scared. I stifled a laugh and let them know that I was familiar with earthquakes and that it had made me feel quite at home. I later learned that one of the English teachers had not been so cool and had actually started crying in class, while my counterpart (instead of comforting the students) had to focus her attentions on the spastic teacher.

School was cancelled for the day and everyone was sent home, for which I was actually quite grateful. All in all, my first Kazakhstanian earthquake was a success. And I'm safe, so don't worry. And to all of my elementary school teachers - your earthquake training served me well as I stood proudly in my Kazakh doorway.

Taxi?... Or Camel?

Written December 4, 2008

The first time I ever saw a camel was quite bizarre. I was traveling through Western Europe with a couple of my best friends. I met them in Strasbourg and we traveled South from there, through Germany and Switzerland. This was my Christmas vacation while studying abroad, and one of the best traveling experiences I've ever had. The four or five of us have some fantastic memories and stories from this time in Europe together.

One of the memories that had escaped me until just last week, was the couple of days that we spent in Laussane, Switzerland together. By this time, Kevin had just left us and headed back to Oxford (where he was studying for the semester) so it was just us girls left - Tracy, Sarah and I. We spent a couple of days sleeping in a concrete building with practically no heating (got to love hostels) and riding buses without tickets, just wandering around this old city that once hosted the Olympic Games. We didn't really have an agenda in Laussane, but somehow it had made it onto our itinerary.

We got lost a couple of times, we saw one of the most beautiful sunsets on the lake ever, and we just wandered the old streets. Well, being the holidays, every town has got their "Christmas Market". One night, we found ourself wandering around the market, listening to Christmas carols and checking out all of the candy and Christmas goodies at the market. It was the true Christmas experience. Then, as we turned a corner, we found ourself being passed by two or three men on camels. Just riding through the Christmas market. I'm pretty sure it was the first time any of us had see a camel, certainly my first time, and in a Christmas market in Switzerland none the less.

Well, just last week I saw my second camel. This time, in Kazakhstan - which, let's be honest, makes a little more sense. I've been told that there is quite the collection of camels in Kazakhstan, but the animals that I see around the towns and villages are mostly cows, horses and donkeys (and of course the dogs). Which, as a side note, are considered "domestic animals" in Kazakhstan. I learned this in one of my classes when my counterpart was teaching our sixth graders about animals and she asked the students to name "wild animals" and "domestic animals". Wild animals included the usual, Tiger, Lion, Bear, etc. and the "domestic animals" were dogs, cats, rabbits, the usual, and then they started adding animals to this list. Animals such as, sheep, cows, horses, donkeys... I was shaking my head thinking "No, those are 'farm animals'" but my counterpart confirmed their distinctions of these animals. And, I guess it makes sense because most of these children actually do have these animals in their backyards.

Later that week, during one of my Russian tutoring sessions, I, too, found myself learning about animals. Kind of embarassing really, to realize that my Russian is at a 6th grade level. But, she pointed at the camel and told me that it was a domestic animal. I couldn't stop laughing. I told her that in America, a camel would never be considered domestic. We had a good laugh, but nonetheless, I was a little saddened by our conversation. I mean, if camels are domestic animals in Kazakhstan, shouldn't I be seeing more of them? Are my neighbors hiding their camels in their backyards? I mean, come on, don't be greedy. The American wants to see a camel in Kazakhstan.
Well, I got my wish. I was running late for school one day, so I was going to pay the 30 cents to take a taxi to class. When I got to the taxi stand, there it was! It was just standing there, all primped and beautiful on a particularly sunny day in Merke. I stopped dead in my tracks, and I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face. I just stared. It was one of those moments where I am reminded that Kazakhstan is still not "natural", I'm still an American living abroad, who is fascinated daily by these little "miracles". It was then, that I realized this camel was for hire. Behind the camel was this very ornately decorated passenger cart. The owner was standing by soliciting the locals for a ride to work or school or wherever.

I stood there just looking at the camel, then at the taxi, then back at the camel. Decisions, decisions... Well, unfortunately the only reason I was taking a taxi in the first place was because I was running late. And, while I am not familiar with camels as a form of transportation, I imagine that they aren't exactly the speediest? So, I pouted and head hung low, walked over to my taxi. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of the camel - part of me was hoping he'd still be there when I got out of my classes, and part of me realized that I was supposed to be blending in as part of this community. Now, the weather is cold again and the camel has returned to hiding. But, there is hope that maybe in the Spring, he'll be back...

The Camel in Laussane


Written December 2, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving from a country that doesn't care! :)

This was the initial start to my Thanksgiving blog, BEFORE I headed to Taraz for a Thanksgiving celebration with my fellow regional volunteers. As you can see, it wasn't the most uplifting start. I've since decided that the actual date of the American holiday is not what's important - it's all about when you choose to celebrate it.

My ACTUAL Thanksgiving day was a bust. I taught two lessons, which were nothing special, and then an extra lesson (for 5th graders) where I had a total attendance of 2 students. Back at my house, my host mom was lodged in front of the television for the evening, and proceeded to actually leave the "Thanksgiving" dinner table and eat her dinner in front of the TV. And what was on the menu for that particular Thursday evening? Borsch - basically Russian stew (not comparable to the delicious soup that I had made previously). So, for Thanksgiving, I sat alone at the dinner table sipping bland soup. Oh, Kazakhstan...

Fortunately, my "real" family called that night. And when I say family, I mean F-A-M-I-L-Y. First, my dad called (being the early riser in the family) then when my brother and sister-in-law woke up, they called (no, they don't live with my parents, they had stayed there for the holiday, thank goodness), and then after I got off the phone with my brother I was handed off to my mom. These conversations made the day. I mean, shoot, 4 phone conversations in one evening? That's like how many phone calls I receive in one month (in a good month). I think they all forgot about the time difference, because when I told my mom that it was almost midnight she quickly rushed me off the phone for my beauty sleep. SHE clearly hasn't heard about the bucket showers and the broken couch... it's not "beauty" sleep in Merke, quite the opposite really.

Talking to my family on Thanksgiving was so great that I didn't even mind when my dad revealed that shortly after I left the states they had completely transformed my childhood bedroom into his personal study. We're talking total transformation - painted the walls, new furniture, put my bed in the new "guest room", the whole thing. I'm sure it was just a coping mechanism. Right? :)

After talking to the fam, Thanksgiving only got better. Friday afternoon I got on a bus to Taraz (picking up a fellow volunteer along the way). Two hours later we pulled into the "city". Neither of us had remembered to bring directions to the volunteer's apartment, so we got off at the first statue we saw (Jennie remembered something about a statue in the directions). We were about an hour early, so not really having any idea where we were we just decided to sit down on the side of a building and hang out for a little bit. She had delivered a package from a friend of mine in the states, so I opened that and we ate Twizzlers (thanks Sarah) and just waited. Later, I received a phone call from a fellow volunteer asking if we had made it to Taraz yet. I told him our situation, and he had actually be driven into Taraz by a Peace Corps driver (any chance he's the favorite? haha) so they proceeded to pin point our location and came and picked us up. So, we had a personal escort to Susanna's apartment - Thanks Peace Corps! We spent the weekend at Susanna's... where there was a shower!

Saturday night was our Thanksgiving celebration. The other volunteers had invited some of their local friends and co-workers, and we had a total turnout of about 16. (Only 6 of us being PCVs). Dave had provided the turkey - bought at the bazaar and slaughtered by his host family. Susanna baked an apple pie and two pumpkin pies (from scratch!) Hotard made the now infamous Hotard Casserole. We had mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, corn bread (two types), brownies, pumpkin bread, salad (without mayonnaise!), and gravy. Matt made fish cakes (with salmon from America, none of this KZ crap). Jennie brought Kraft Mac and Cheese. Add to that a couple of Kazakhstanian salads (provided by our guests - this time with mayo), and we had a FULL spread. We ate food, said a little of what we were thankful for, and played "Cowboy, Bear, Indian" - appropriate game.

The six of us spent all day preparing food AND... what is Thanksgiving without a little American football? I had the 2006 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Boise St v. Oklahoma) on my computer, so we turned that on and spent the day in true Thanksgiving fashion. And really, what better football game to watch?

Everyone ate too much, and we still had leftovers for a perfect Thanksgiving leftovers lunch on Sunday. I'm not sure how I walked out of that apartment on Sunday afternoon, but I managed, and made my way back to Merke, where my host mom was in relatively good spirits.
Thanksgiving lives!! Now, CHRISTMAS...

Eating Dinner

Hotard, Matt Turner and Dave Hannon

Mmm... Turkey!!

My Thanksgiving Day Plate

Our Thanksgiving gathering

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Banana Republic

November 27, 2008

I think I have a problem...

So I had this dream the other night that was slightly problematic. What was even more problematic was how I felt when I woke up in the morning (after the dream). So, here's my dream...

I was in a shopping mall. I had some clothes from Banana Republic that I needed to return because I, well because I live in Kazakhstan and I'm a volunteer - I can use all the money I can get. So, I had brought my clothes to Banana to return them and get some money (probably to buy a measly banana or something - no pun intended, I just love bananas and they are quite expensive in Kazakhstan, so expensive in fact that you don't buy bananas by weight, you buy them individually). So, I walked into Banana Republic (back in America, which also didn't really seem to phase me) with some friends (Californian friends, of course, because dreams never make sense). We had to stand in a really long line (literally it went outside the store) just to get to the register. For some reason this also didn't phase me like it normally would.

When I finally got to the register, I pulled out my merchandise to return (which I'm pretty sure was old and worn, but this also didn't seem to come into play). The store clerk started talking about all the customers and how they had so many earlier in the day that there had been a line outside the store all day just to get in (like it was a nightclub or something). I just laughed it off, and then that's when I saw IT. Banana Republic was having their once- well it must be once in a lifetime because I've never seen this before - in a lifetime sale. Everything in the store was 75% off! It was only then that everything finally clicked into place. Basically I was outrageously lucky to have even gotten into the store, more or less that there was any merchandise left (and there was!) and instead of buying anything I had brought in some old clothes to return.

The store clerk asked me, you know, wasn't I going to buy anything? I had to play it cool (you wouldn't want to let on that you had no idea there was a HUGE sale going on) and said that, yea, but I always like to return my stuff first and then get to shopping. Let's just finish the transaction, and then I'll get back in line to buy new clothes.

I walked away from the register towards all of these clothes that were glowing like they were literally sent from Heaven. And, of course, it was right then that I woke up. I was furious! All I wanted to do was just go shopping in my dream for 75% off, but NO I had to wake up, on my fold-out couch (that doesn't fold out) in my sparse room with no furniture, in a country where they don't even have Banana Republic!

OK, so in retrospect, of course I realize that I was being ridiculous and that shopping is not nearly as important as changing the world (which, I'm totally doing). That I shouldn't care about Banana Republic or any other clothing store because well, in Kazakhstan they wear the same clothes for weeks on end (nice clothes, but the same ones!) and even at 75% off I probably still couldn't afford very much. But, nonetheless, I haven't stopped thinking about this dream shopping adventure. I wake up in the morning and stumble over to my buffet (which is the pathetic excuse I have for a dresser and a closet these days) stare at my clothes that are being destroyed by the bucket washings and want to climb back into bed just wishing that I can find my way back to that Banana Republic store (or any store really, I'm not being picky). But, no. Because you know that you can never go back to a dream when you want to. It's only when it's a nightmare that you don't want to ever experience again that you just can't seem to get away from the images...

So, I'm in Kazakhstan, dreaming about America and shopping at Banana Republic. But I swear, I'm changing the world! :)


written December 2, 2008

Alright already! I've learned my lesson. Just give me back my internet! So, just when I thought I was growing accustomed to this culture and all of its quirks, I found myself getting just a little too comfortable. Of course nothing is ever guaranteed in Kazakhstan, I should know that by now. But, is it so wrong for a girl to think that things were looking up? That when I heard my school had high speed internet connection that I could use whenever I wanted, I perked up?

Well, I decided to be nonchalant about it all. Oh, internet? That could be handy, but no big deal. I waited a few days before I checked the internet situation out, and sure enough, there it was! I was so excited, I started typing emails and posting blogs like there was no tomorrow. I told my parents that I'd have internet now if they needed to get ahold of me, but that I was going to try not to turn into that American that sits in front of the computer on all of her class breaks. I was going to use the internet no more than once (maybe twice) a week.

So, of course I ran home that afternoon and started typing. I started typing emails to friends I hadn't communicated with in some time, I started typing blogs about topics I hadn't been sure I'd ever actually have the time to post. I put them all in a neat little folder on my external hard drive and told my parents on Sunday night that I'd be sending them all of this important information on Monday (a solid 4 days after my first internet sitting). Well, of course when I showed up on Monday there was no internet. I played it cool, they told me it would be working after lunch - no big deal. I didn't want to seem desperate, so I didn't even check back after lunch. I just brought my external on Tuesday morning prepared to get some serious correspondence accomplished.

Tuesday - no internet. Wednesday, I asked (through the grapevine, of course. I couldn't let the computer tech know that I was asking again) about the internet. Still not working. No one could figure out why the internet wasn't working. It took a solid week for the administration to determine why the internet had suddenly stopped working. So what was the reason? The school hadn't paid it's bill. Kazakhstan.

It took two weeks for the internet to come back to life. December 1, I walked into the computer lab and looked sheepishly at the computer tech and said "Internet doesn't work?" as though it was an affirmative statement that didn't really need confirmation. She looked back at me and said "No, it works". I tried my hardest, but I'm pretty sure that I didn't hide my excitement very well. I sauntered over to the computers, and of course, I hadn't brought my external hard drive.

So, here I am again typing up emails and updates to post on the internet, but I promise that I realize it's entirely possible when I go back into the computer lab, that the internet will have disappeared again. It's teaching me a lesson really... the little EXTRAS aren't necessary. Really, they aren't. I don't mind waiting two weeks for a letter to reach the states. Now, I just have to figure out how the post office in Merke works...