If you’ve been reading along these last three months, you know that wildly unexpected, breathlessly exciting, and sometimes totally inexplicable things happen here in Kyrgyzstan. But in truth, the things I usually write about are the punctuation to what can get to be some pretty long, tedious stretches.
Those days that don’t include singing at parties or riding in cars with sheep or hosting radio shows or giving impromptu English lessons do include a lot of reading. They include a walk. Or two. They definitely include checking Facebook. Maybe some calls back home. They might even include some blog post writing if I’m feeling ambitious.
A couple of evenings ago I was finishing up a thoroughly unproductive day with my nose in my Kindle reading an anthology of motorcycle magazine articles when Nurkalyi knocked and stuck his head in my room.
“Cole, ket.” (“Cole, let’s go.”)
It occurred to me to try to clarify where or why we were going, but then thought better of it figuring the struggle would only waste what little energy I did have.
I lurched myself out of bed with a grunt, threw on some shoes, and hopped in the StepWagon.
We didn’t go far; just over the creek to Nurlan’s house where two of Nurkalyi’s horses (he has six) are pastured right now. Nurkalyi and Nurlan gave both horses a once over then after finding a suitable rise in the ground on the edge of the small pasture we plopped down and just sat.
Nurlan and Nurkalyi chatted quietly for a little bit but after a few minutes it trailed off and the three of us just sat in silence taking in the scene.
The Kara Suu Creek was bubbling along past us. A few chickens were pecking the ground nearby, the horses were munching on some hay, and a cow was nibbling around the edges of a plot of corn. The sun had dropped below the trees on the ridge and with it the heat of the day, but was still just high enough to be reflecting off the stark, tan mountains separating us from Kazakhstan on the North side of the valley. It almost never rains in Talas, but Kara Suu is a tiny irrigated paradise lush with every kind of fruit tree and bush imaginable and the cool breeze seemed to carrying the fresh scent of all of them.
With all that going on around me, the first thing I thought was, “What’s wrong with me?”
A moment before I had been content to stay in my room reading about other peoples’ adventures forgetting that I was here on this one. It’s not a common thing to know, while you’re experiencing it, that a time in your life is what you’ll reminisce about in some distant future, but it seems pretty obvious to me that this is one of those times. I mean, these are the stories grandkids roll their eyes at having already heard a half dozen times. But even more importantly, I have no idea what will happen tomorrow – even less an idea than usual. But the one thing that is for sure is that this isn’t going to last forever. Getting here was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done and I’ll be damned if I’m going to waste it.
All of that rushed through my head as I sat there in a pasture, in an unassuming village, in a corner of a country whose name people can’t pronounce, in a part of the world vaguely remembered from high school geography.
Then the second thing I thought was, “Man, I’ve got to hang out in pastures more often.”