When I first arrived in Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek felt so foreign and strange. It was a densely built, developing nation capital where everything was just a little off from those things with which I was familiar. Now, even though its only been three months, I can barely remember feeling that way. The city is the urban and cultural center of the whole country and feels just that way. The contrast is crazy.
The majority of us Volunteers have been settling into some pretty rural areas around the country and the opportunity to hit up the what-now-feels-like bustling metropolis of Bishkek wasn’t going to get passed up. After a week of classes we were all ready for a weekend on the city.
Classes finished up around 3:30 on Friday and a group of us hopped a mashrutka to the city. None of us really know Bishkek all that well and, even though the streets are laid out in an easily navigated, Soviet grid, it took us two hours of wandering around before we found THE Burrito Stand. The semi-mythical, semi-Hispanic food stand was well worth the effort of getting to. I inhaled two massive burritos before we made our way to the apartment rented for the weekend, where we watched some movies and planned the next day.
In the morning we took off for Sierra Coffee – the most American place in Kyrgyzstan. Had myself a delicious black coffee and a breakfast burrito that I wouldn’t have shared with anyone other than maybe a starving family member – maybe. I sought out a copy of the Kyrgyz Epic Poem, Manas, in English which I eventually found for 1600 som at a kiosk at Bishkek Park (the biggest shopping center in the country.)
We had a little trouble , as we tend to, finding the right bus and mashrutka back to Kengesh, but eventually got it figured out. Kuban and Zahara wanted to hear all about my weekend which I did my best to tell them about, but they were really excited about my Manas book.
Featured Photo Credit: http://www.travelokyrgyzstan.com/sightseeing/bishkek-city-sightseeing/