Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I Love Kyrgyzstan

October 15, 2006

Today I arrived back in Bishkek, my beautiful, happy home. I felt at peace even while driving through Kazakhstan from the Almaty airport. We had to stop for cows on the major Almaty-Bishkek road, I saw the wide, gray sky, the empty, rolling, golden hills, the blue and white gingerbread box houses. I felt the calm of the land, the ability to be alone and be safe, to trust people more, to venture out and explore without fear of one’s neighbors.

I loved the romantic graves with moons on the corners of the fences, and how my driver, Sergei, a Russian, crosses himself when passing them. I loved the holy snow-peaked mountains – stark, clean, fresh and cool.

I feel like here, people are able to sense themselves as significant under the vast sky. They are part of the world, rather than locked behind bars where they can burn in flames or sweating out their troubles in the humid, stifling air.

Again, I’m silent. After six weeks without a word of Russian, the language has moved down in my head. I was too tired to struggle, so I spent most of the three-hour car ride in silence. It can be strange and frustrating to lose my voice, but it’s also a nice opportunity to be a silent observer. In a short trip out to buy basic supplies, I realized I still had the basics. And I still understand. It will probably just take me a few days to readapt.

It’s very cold here compared to Kyrgyzstan, a chill, fall windy air that portends sniffly noses and tightly pulled jackets, dreams of afternoons with a cup of hot tea and a book by the heater. It’s that time of year when it’s already cold but the central heat hasn’t yet been turned on.

So after several hours of jetlagged sleep, I spent the rest of my waking day in front of my portable heater, with a cup of hot tea, a book and a laptop. It’s great to be home.

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