A Jyloo is a camping trip in the mountains that usually has some kind of animal slaughter, maybe some wrestling and horse riding, a yurt or several, large quantities of kymyz, minor quantities of vodka, giant vats of food, and about a million people. It’s a lot like the stereotypical, multi-family, fifth-wheels scattered about, weekend warrior outings back home.
The very first time I met Nurkalyi during the host family conference three weeks ago, he told me about this jyloo he was planning to attend and this week the day we’d been waiting for finally arrived. Because I naively assumed that “be ready by 3:00” meant “be ready by 3:00 PM” the day started a little abruptly.
But that was no problem. I hopped out of bed, threw together a day bag, and jumped into the StepWagon (Nurkalyi’s minivan) in the dark. We made a few stops to pick up Nurkalyi’s buddies then took off into the mountains up an extremely minivan inappropriate dirt road. We drove for several hours and just about the time the sun came up we pulled off into a meadow with two yurts.
Then the day really took off:
People in cars and on horses started filling the meadow in what started as a trickle but eventually turned into a torrent. I watched, and occasionally dodged, horses in an extreme Kyrgyz version of polo. One particularly unlucky horse got pulled aside and was, um… prepared for lunch. There were some wrestling matches which, out of fear for being included and subsequently embarrassed, I steered well clear of. We ate horse plove prepared in two big cauldrons and served with spoons/shovels. I took a nap in a yurt. A van showed up with speakers and microphone equipment then a bunch of attendees, including Nurkalyi, got called out front to receive certificates for who knows what.
And finally, by the time all that was said and done, Nurkalyi was packing up the van to leave when he pointed to a couple of guys struggling to lead a sheep… somewhere.
“Jardam!” (“Help them!”)
I had no idea what they were doing and therefore how to help, but I jogged over, grabbed a fistfull of wool, and tried to follow the other guys’ lead anyway.
Then it dawned on me that we were going to shove this sheep in the van.
Then we shoved the sheep in the van.
Then I hopped in behind pinning it between my shins and the front seat. Five other guys piled in and we took off for Kara Suu.
Five hours later we arrived and then spent the next two hours making shashlik (kebabs) out of my little buddy. I felt a little bad at first about eating the sheep that I had kind of gotten to know, but he was also delicious, so in the end it was kind of a wash.
A Couple of Yurts
About a Million People
An Unlucky Horse
A Much Luckier Donkey
Me and the Guy in Charge Flashing Kyrgyz Smiles
The Minivan Inappropriate Road
Nurkalyi, Toori, Nurik, and Me having a Lunch Break on the Way Back to Kara Suu