8/15/05 On our way to Bayanaul

8/15/05  On our way to Bayanaul
Hello All, and last time for awhile,
We will try to write again before we leave for Bayanaul, but time is getting short, so I wanted to say a quick good-bye before it is too late. On August 19th (above) we will swear in and officially become Peace Corps Volunteers (right now we are trainees). The following day we will board a train for Pavlodar, where we will arrive sometime between 13 and 28 hours later depending on who we ask. Then we will take a bus for I think 3 hours to our town and finally meet our new family we will live with for the next 6 months. (And all this on our wedding anniversary!) Since Pavlodar is about the closest place with internet access, I imagine we won't go there all that often, but we definitely will from time to time to keep in touch and hopefully show you pictures of our new town which we have heard is very beautiful. Before we go, I just wanted to review some of the things we have learned over the past 10 weeks.

1. Mutton is good for every meal. The best way to eat mutton is in a Samsa (mutton and onions inside a puff pastry), but sometimes you can disguise the flavor with tomato/horseradish sauce.

2. Learning Russian is fun. It may seem hard at first, but compared to Kazakh it is the easiest language in the world to pronounce. For example, Hello, How are you? Russian is: Sdrastvoocha, kak dee la? In Kazakh it is: Salameatsees Bee aye, Kaleenis Kalayee? Wait, did I say one of those was easy?

3. Snickers bars are the best things on earth. I donít think Iíve ever purchased a Snickers bar in the states, but here, they are so familiar, so safe, and so full of yummy peanutty goodness that I just canít get enough.

4. Beer and/or milk may not necessarily be sold in a beer and/or milk container (more often in an old coke bottle).

5. Coke, Fanta, Sprite can save your life, or at least your stomach. Just trust me on that one.

6. Mountains can and will take your breath away.

7. Children who speak a different language will say hello, what is your name in English at every opportunity, even if they have no idea what you respond and they have to yell it down the street at you.

8. Jehovah's Witnesses are everywhere. They are the people who smile at you on the street who aren't Americans.

9. One more person can ALWAYS fit on the bus, and as a side note, no you can't hold your breath for 40 minutes when your nose is shoved in someone else's armpit.

10. Your shoes must always be clean or you will not be respected. However, your clothes can always go one more day before being washed as long as they are ironed.

11. Pop music is the same all around the world, even in Russian.

12. Washing clothes by hand is neither very interesting, nor does it necessarily get your clothes clean.

13. Stopping to catch up with a friend (note from Jack: or eating, or drinking tea, you get the idea) is much more important than being on time.

14. Receiving a package in the mail is the best thing in the whole world.

15. Flush toilets are a privilege, not a requirement.

16. Hot water and /or pizza can bring tears to your eyes.

17. Water is easy to waster until it is precious to you. (Sorry for the PSA, but I can't believe how much water I used to waste!)

18. Free cough drops can totally make your day.

I'm sure there are many more lessons I have learned, especially when I went to Baraholka Bazaar, which is just miles and miles of cubicles where you can buy everything (I bought a huge sheep fur coat to keep me warm this winter). There I learned when people yell "mush" they aren't trying to get animals to move, they are trying to get you to move, and they will smack you with your cart if you don't. But anyway, I just wanted to give you a taste of the fun lessons we learn every day. Today we met our counterparts, the teachers who we will team teach with us this year. They are extremely nice. So this is it really. All the best to all of you. Hopefully we will be in touch soon.

From Kazakhstan,
Amy