Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Arrival to Bishkek

It's day five since my arrival to Bishkek. Amazingly (for those of you who know the full story, it is truly amazing) I made it from GSO to LGA, a bus ride from LGA to JFK, JFK to IST, and IST to FRU.

There is a long hallway is IST lined with benches and outlets where captives of the airport sleep hunched over their bags and covered in puffy winter coats. After many cups of coffee and tediously trying to get some wifi signal, I decided to join them. Although not comfortable, I totally felt safe and not worried about my bags.

Early Saturday morning, I arrived in Bishkek. It wasn't the kind of magical winter wonderland that I remember in Estonia, but driving from the airport to the city watching the sun rise over the mountains and plans of snow was breathtaking. And that was my introduction to Kyrgyzstan.

I live in a flat near the school with other international students and the school cat, who I have affectionately named Luba (A Russian name I love but could never give a child.). My apartment is heated, includes an oven, a stove, a full-sized refrigerator, and an amazing shower. 

On Saturday, I had lunch at a cafe with a friend who introduced me to Central Asian cuisine. I was stunned at how flavorful it was compared to Eastern European and Caucasian food.

After lunch, I got lost. Like super lost, as in I am going to keep walking and hope to find a fire pit on the road to curl up next to, if necessary, tonight. I was looking for a grocery store, and kept getting distracted by these heinous circus posters everywhere. They were garish with a bear popping out of a swirling multi-colored background. This is how I missed my home. There was/is a wall covered in those posters right outside of my apartment that I had missed earlier. Having to look at the posters as I was walking home was just so shocking, I guess, I forgot to look for the blue building (my apt is sky blue). As I was walking along, a woman came up to me and started speaking Russian. I said I didn't know and that I was also looking for a building. A school. We walked together. She asked several people on the street if they knew where the school was. She even called some friends, but she had no luck. It wasn't until we were very far off that we met an English speaking piano student who decided to show me the way to a school (she didn't know if it was mine, but it was a school nonetheless).

While the girl and I were walking, I had my first fall on the ice. By the way, the sidewalks here are covered in at least an inch of ice. We were outside of a supermarket when my feet flew up in the air, I grabbed for a babushka, the old lady screamed, and I landed on my back. At that moment, I was so glad I owned a puffy jacket. My new friend asked if I was all right and the man beside the babushka kept imitating her scream in a falsetto. I wanted to say "No, I am not okay. I want to have a pity party and cry right now because I can't find my home and I just fell on my arse." But I did neither (although it was incredibly tempting), I smiled and moved on. Eventually, we did find my apartment before dark.

Now, some say my accident could have been avoided if I hadn't been wearing heels, but I insist that it is possible to walk in heels on the ice because the locals do it. I just have to find my ice feet.

The next day, Sunday, had so much potential, yet failed in so many ways. I had intentions of finding a cafe that serves American style cappuccinos and lattes, but my shower with the amazing water pressure flooded our bathroom. Unsure of what to do, I took a nap. Then I woke up, and the water had disappeared.

Unfortunately, the next day my shower did the same thing. As I was toweling off, I heard a knock on my door (mumbled something in English assuming it was one of my flat mates) and a tiny man's head appeared. Vie mae!! Startled, he shut the door. Shouting "one minute, one minute" in Russian, I quickly got dressed and asked why he was here. Apparently, my bathroom had flooded the first floor. As I tried to explain the doors of the shower were closed, and the water was "swimming" (I couldn't think of the proper Russian word) to the back of the wall of the bathroom and vanishing (this required miming), he splashed over to the pipes and said a proper technician would have to come. Two days later, we still don't know if the technician came. C'est la vie! 

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