Tea is the drink of choice in Kyrgyzstan. Black tea to English speakers, red tea to Kyrgyz speakers. Sometimes with a cube of sugar, sometimes with home-made jam mixed in, on rare occasion with some milk from the neighbor’s cow. But always tea.
When my host mom calls me for a meal she says, “chai ich.” Drink tea. It doesn’t matter what might have been prepared to eat because that’s beside the point. We’re not having tea with our food, we’re having food with our tea.
Fortunately, I like tea. If I do need to change it up the Nescafé dissolvable, coffee-flavored flake…stuff is an acceptable alternative when there’s no other option – and there’s usually no other option. But what I really want, especially on cold, snowy days like today is coffee. Now, thanks to a care package from Mom that came with a quart of coffee grounds, that’s a craving I can satisfy.
I have good, French-pressed coffee once in a while with other Volunteers or at one of the ex-pat cafés in Bishkek, but never here at home in Kara Suu. I make something of a ritual of it.
Using the French press Anna gave me before leaving, I scoop two heaping spoonful’s of grounds and fill it with water from the electric water heater in the kitchen. It smells amazing. I sit at the table letting it steep for a full five minutes before finally breaking down and pressing the grounds out. Then I fill my trusty HDR coffee mug.
I’m not quite sure what the house is made of underneath the stucco and wallpaper, but whatever it is, it makes for some thick walls which also conveniently makes for a wide window sills to sit in and look out while sipping away.
It’s snowing big fluffy flakes. Little kids peeking out of layer upon layer of winter gear and fur lined hoods are making their way home from school. The road was paved in June and still looks new. A tractor rumbles by and a horse and rider trot in the other direction. There’s less than an inch of snow on the ground and if it weren’t so overcast it would probably be too warm to stick at all. The trees in the yard are swaying, but the wind is blowing only lightly – especially compared to what it must be like back in South Dakota right now.
I finish my cup.
I’m warm and happy and ready to face whatever weirdness the day brings.