For the last couple of months I would wake up in the mornings to find that the night’s frost had creeped from the mountain peaks a little deeper into my valley than that of the previous night’s. It would retreat back up in the heat of the day only to inch downward again while everyone slept. I couldn’t help but think, a little melodramatically I’ll admit, that it was coming for me.
And now it’s here – winter has settled on Kyrgyzstan.
Winter is not exactly my favorite season. It’s always struck me as something to be endured because we get too comfortable with spring and summer. They start feeling jilted by our ungratefulness and decide to take off for a few months to remind us of their value.
“They’ll come crawling back,” they think.
And sure enough, we do. There’s not much better than that first day of spring warm enough to drive with an elbow stuck out a rolled down window. If winter didn’t suck, I don’t suppose spring and summer would be nearly as awesome.
I had always figured that the Peace Corps would offer a two year reprieve from winter. I mean, obviously Peace Corps Volunteers live in the tropics. They have long shaggy hair, wear cargo shorts, live in thatch roofed huts, and sleep under mosquito nets where they can hear the waves of the South Pacific crashing on a golden sand beach. Right? That’s how it’s suppose to work.
Well, maybe somewhere, but not in Kyrgyzstan. And that’s really OK, because winter here is actually kind of beautiful.
One of my biggest gripes about winter is the dirtiness, but since the ground here is frozen solid there’s none of the mud and since the roads don’t get sanded none of that is getting tossed all over the place either. It’s actually pretty close to the pure, white, fresh winter of Christmas post cards everywhere.
And yeah, it’s dark and cold just like home, but the response to it is different here too. Back home life sort of goes on at the same pace in spite of the discomfort of the season. Here things have responded in a more natural way. They’ve have slowed down. No one is stressed out about a whole lot of anything. And who knows if one style is better than the other, but I’m definitely not complaining.
All in all, winter in mountainous Central Asia isn’t as bad as you might think. And I don’t mind it quite as much as I would have thought either. I’ll be ready for spring when it comes, but for now – as long as I get a cup of coffee in the morning – winter is just fine.