Believe it or not, Peace Corps Volunteers aren’t the only expats in Kyrgyzstan (are PC Volunteers expats? That might be debatable.) There are employees of various embassies, members of aid organizations, entrepreneurs, students and other academics, and a whole slew of others.
The weekend after my visit to Bazar Korgon found me in Bishkek for a birthday party with other Volunteers, a few Fulbright Scholars, and a couple of Boren (graduate students studying Russian) Fellows. And in an instance of extreme coincidence one of the others was even from South Dakota. The world just isn’t that big.
We ate at an upscale expat-y restaurant where my mean Kyrgyz skills were less than useful. And being the weakest Russian speaker (that is the only one who doesn’t speak Russian) in the group, I was pretty much at their mercy. Fortunately the Russian word for “calzone” is, and stay with me here: “calzone.”
I was really pretty fascinated by the others’ experiences here in Kyrgyzstan. Sometimes I’m jealous of the services, resources, and some the luxuries that are available in Bishkek, but at the same time I was pretty proud of how my experience here has been different in rural Talas. I’ll admit I bragged a bit about kymyz drinking, besh barmock eating, and Kyrgyz speaking – although, again, that last point was a little undercut by the fact that no one in this particular restaurant spoke Kyrgyz.
We had cake and ice cream, played cards, and generally, for myself at least, got our American-ing taken care of for a while.