Monday, March 30, 2009

Picture Update!

Layover in New York

After climbing 841 stairs at Medeu.

Our stair climbing team.

Leaving Almalybak. :(

My students in Almalybak.

The Almalybak Crew.

My Language Group

Kazakh Wedding Spread and my host brother Manat.

Bon Appetit. Talk about a tease.

Oblast Boys

Thanksgiving with the oblast mates and locals.

My old host brother stole my camera...

New Year's Eve with the Almalybak family et al.

My host family setting off some very illegal fireworks. The dog was trying to eat them.

The men of the family.

The Greatest Club Sandwich and Lava Cake in Kazakhstan - Shymkent

The only picture I have of the mountains in Merke. Sorry.

Nick, Corinne, Seth and Katy

Corinne and I after Swearing In.

Brrrrr.... Winter in Merke.

The Kazakh Squat

Almalybak Crew

The Merke Camel

The Cutest Santa Claus I've Ever Seen

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Bug's Life

written February 19, 2009

That's right. There are bugs in my room and one of them was in my bed. Nevermind the fact that it was not any bigger than an ant, it was still a bug and it was on my stomach. I had found a couple of these bugs on the walls in my room before that night, and had taken a twisted pleasure in squishing them against the wall and hearing them pop, but when the bug is crawling on your stomach there is absolutely no room for pleasure.

Now, I've made it my personal mission to find and kill any living animal in my room. There's the occassional ant trying to find its way to my stash of American peanut butter, granola bars and spices that I consider to be a personal attack on my well-being and I squash that sucker into pieces and leave it there in hopes that any of his wandering friends will be warned of the fate that awaits them should I spot them in my room.

I was, admittedly, the girl in America who still (at the age of 24) called her dad to kill spiders in her room, and honestly if these bugs were any bigger than the size of an ant I wouldn't even consider going near them. Yes, that's right - I'd sacrifice my coveted Reduced Fat Skippy to those giant predators. But, I feel some odd sort of power and accomplishment in killing these intruders in Kazakhstan. I wake up every morning and scan the walls of my room for any tiny black spots. I check my couch and sheets every morning and every evening to make sure that there aren't any surprises awaiting me in my sleep.

Aren't you a little curious how I would have handled Africa? :)

Last week was the woman I live with's birthday. (I've decided that I don't really like calling her my host mom because that title seems more rightfully owned by my mom in Almalybak.) I came home during the middle of the day and made cake (without the frosting, having yet again forgot that I need powdered sugar for that). I cut up a few pieces of the cake and put them on a plate for dinner and put the rest in a Ziplock bag (from America - lifesavers!) in my room. The woman I live with didn't really care for the cake of course (she hasn't yet warmed up to anything 'American' that I have prepared in Kazakhstan) complaining that it was too sweet. Uh, it's cake...

Well, needless to say, I was glad that I had saved the rest of the cake for my colleagues who I knew would enjoy the homemade cake. I woke up the next morning to find my windowsill (where I had placed the Ziplock baggie full of goodness) covered in a layer of black. Turns out that the particular Ziplock bag of choice had a small rip in it, through which an entire colony of ants was able to travel. I had to run the bag out to the hole in the backyard where we put our garbage damning the entire ant species as I ran. I then had to spend my morning killing the ants remaining on my windowsill and the trail of ants on the wall underneath the windowsill. I find a few stragglers every now and again, but they just help to remind me that I can't keep food in my bedroom.

The good news? The ants liked my cake. :)

So, yes, it's a bugs life here in Kazakhstan for me, but I'd say I've handled the change pretty well. Oh the things you learn in the Peace Corps...