OK, folks, my turn. Megan has not done anything since February, other than enter the one item that I sent her. Her reasoning: “ Kyrgyzstan and all of Central Asia are in such turmoil, why should I try to do anything from a distance?” Good reasoning, too. Several of the PCVs who have been keeping blogs have been warned by Peace Corps, Washington, to use greater care in what they write. Peace Corps is not a political arm!
However, since I am no longer a PCV, I think I’m a little freer to tell my story than those still in the field. And why don’t we start where it all began…with the Tulip Revolution. Askar Akayev was pretty much a favorite of the State Department; he was the least dictatorial of any of the Central Asia presidents. About a year ago, he began to slip from favor with his own people. The English language newspapers began to have a flavor of, “Look how good we are,” when reporting items from the government. And Parliament was not doing anything; Akayev was doing it all. But the natives were restless, and the Parliamentary elections in January, with runoff elections in February, really tipped the scale. Akayev had said he would not run for re-election as President, but it became apparent that he was working for a majority in Parliament that would do what he wanted. Both his son and daughter ran for Parliament seats from Chui; several other relatives in Issyk-Kul and Naryn also ran. The elections were bad enough; there was grumbling; the runoffs really did it: Does anyone really believe that his daughter got 95% of the vote?
So the problems started in the South. There are lots of people in Osh and Batken and Jalal-Abad looking for work and finding nothing; rigged elections did not help anything. Demonstrations became more and more noisy and violent; buildings were burned; airport runways were covered with rocks. Maybe in that part of the show, half a dozen people died. To Akayev’s credit, he refused to harm his people (unlike Karimov, next door in Uzbekistan, who can’t even present a plausible figure of the numbers of people who have been killed or who have fled the country!). Finally, on March 23, the action reached Bishkek, with about 300 people demonstrating, and Akayev saying that firm measures would be taken against future demonstrators.
Arabaev University is on the east edge of the government/Ala-Too square complex, and at the west edge of downtown Bishkek. I went downtown for my usual gamburger on the 24th, and then strolled back toward the University along Chui Street. There was a crowd gathering in front of the White House—the principal government building. Crowd? There was a literal river of people pouring down the street to the east of the White House! Three hundred people the day before had turned into at least 3,000 on the 24th. The police, vastly outnumbered, got out of the way! As people started in the front door of the White House, Akayev & Co got out the back door. Absolutely the fastest revolution in the history of the world! At that point I headed back to the University. Norilya, a secretary, was watching the whole show from a second floor window. As I walked in, she had an absolutely terrified look on her face and said, “Charlie! Go home!” So I did.
There was considerable rioting, pillaging/looting that evening, against property owned or thought to be owned by Akayev & Co. The PCVs were told to get inside and stay there; I had one other PCV in my apartment. About 9:00 pm on the 24th I had a telephone call from Megan: Akayev had resigned and left the country. (Any questions about this being a small world?!) From Thursday evening until Sunday afternoon we didn’t leave the apartment, getting what news we could from BBC, and from Sam Citron, the husband of a PCV in Osh who got to Bishkek from Los Angeles on Friday morning, the 25th! So for three days there were three of us in a one room apartment.
Osh Bazaar and the Mom and Pop convenience type stores and kiosks were the only places where we could get food. All the supermarket types had been pillaged. As of June 1, everything in Bishkek had re-opened except for a Turk owned furniture store and a Turk owned supermarket. Early in March the University said it could not pay my rent beyond April 22, so I had planned to leave. On March 25, a UN volunteer teaching at Arabaev decided she would really rather be in London and left. I was asked if I would take her classes…sure; it would keep me there for another six weeks—until the end of the semester, and the English department would take care of my rent. I really had fun those six weeks, and I was up to my neck in work, finishing things in International Relations and teaching two classes.
It was all over so quickly that for a couple of days no one knew just who was going to do what. Then Bakaiev, from Osh, was selected as interim president after Kulov, from Bishkek, had declined. The government was doing a petty decent job of functioning by the end of April. Presidential elections will be held July 26, but who will be president has already been determined. Bakaiev will be president; Kulov will be Prime Minister. There are about ten others running for the job, but all together they probably won’t pull more than 20% of the vote.
So everything is settled and Kyrgyzstan is on its way to a bright future? Not so fast! Akayev’s daughter came back to Bishkek and claimed her “rightful” Parliament seat. She stuck around for maybe a week, and decided Moscow was much more friendly. His son, a real thug, made loud noises about being elected, but never managed to get out of Moscow. (Had he made it to Bishkek, he would not have gotten out alive.)
As for the University…have you heard of “paying political debts?” Well…Bakaiev appointed a new Minister of Education. The Minister of Education appointed a new Rector for the University. All the 13 vice-rectors are in a holding pattern. The new Rector won’t be official until September; the vice-rectors are busily currying the Rector’s favor or are hunting for a new job. That is no way to run a railroad; it certainly does nothing for running a University. At least the teaching faculty is reasonably safe from change.
What really concerns me is: By October 1, will there even be anyone around who knows what I have tried to accomplish in the past year? Will the education process of acquainting a new administration who basically know little about how a university functions have to start all over from ground zero? All I can do is hope.
I met some nice people, both students and adults. I know I have impacted on some lives; I know that I will do my best to stay in touch and stay current; my 21 months in Kyrgyzstan have left their mark on me. I hope to go back in September 2006; I have applied for a Fulbright Fellowship.
And I know that the developing revolution in Uzbekistan isn’t going to be pretty.
For now, though; it’s a wrap. Dasvadanya.
posted by Megan Harkness-Madole at 8:10 PM  |
From an email sent to Megan on Friday, April 15:
As we walked, Tina asked me when I was leaving. "Six weeks from
"Why?" I started talking. "It's difficult to say; I want to go
home, but I
don't want to. I don't want to stay here, but I want to. I've undertaken
so many things, but I've seen nothing come to closure. That makes it a
tough and frustrating job. Now maybe if I stay just another month something
will happen that will bear fruit; only I know that it won't. Things in the
academic world don't move like that. I'm reminded of Newton's first law:
Objects at rest tend to remain at rest. Universities here are at rest, and
getting them in motion to make a change is almost a super human effort. I
could extend for a year and still not see anythig done; I may be dead before
some of the seeds I've planted have matured." Someone has said that the US
Senate is the world's greatest deliberative body; that person may have been
a college graduate; they were never involved in the dynamics of a college.
When a college/universitiy faculty begins deliberating something, they can
make the US Senate look like a bunch of novices. I can't remember the
formula for overcoming the inertia of an object, but on a scale of zero to
one, overcoming the inertia of a university faculty is a coefficient of
"I'd like to stay; I'm anxious about leaving. What will I find when I get
home? For that matter, where will "home" be? This land is just
to be comfortable; at my age, I've got to start all over again? Tom has
talked about the difficulty of finding our house on his visits to Woodbury;
the landmarks are constantly changing. Last trip he was told to turn right
at an open field; six months later he can't find the corner; the open field
has been covered with a strip mall and 25 houses!
And I may have to become acclimated to a whole new environment.
"It still is the "Toughest job you'll ever love."
posted by Megan Harkness-Madole at 10:33 PM  |
As Charles was healing from his fall, the long time Country Director, Joseph Curtain resigned effective immediately. A new CD has been appointed and here is his bio from the Peace Corps website. He arrives next week.
Kyrgyz Republic – Alex Boston
Alex Boston joins the Peace Corps after a career in foreign service and local government. Boston served as a Foreign Service Officer in Peshawar, Pakistan and San Salvador, El Salvador. In Pakistan, Boston was responsible for the administration and security of the American consulate, as well as for reporting on Pakistani issues. In El Salvador, he served as a Consular Officer. Boston also served as Executive Director of the South Africa BookSmart Foundation, where he created programs to enable American students to donate books to South African schools. Most recently, Boston was a Fellow with the Andrus Family Fund where he researched and designed materials that eased the transition into adulthood for foster care youth, and he worked as the Director of the Office of Homeless Services for the City of Baltimore. Boston received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Yale University, his master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University, and his law degree from Harvard Law School.
Snow has been falling with greater regularity in Kyrgyzstan than it has in the Twin Cities. In fact, Charles thinks that Bishkek looks like Twin Cities ought to look currently.
The Mid-Service Training was held at a hotel in Issyk-Kul that Charles thinks was the best yet. While he thought the training portion was pretty light weight, after all what more can be taught after 16 months in-country, the trip was good. A little new knowledge was gained in the culture, history and religion fields.
In his job, Charles continues to contact various Western universities in an attempt to set up exchange programs and sponsors for grant money. He has turned from writing the grants himself to having the sponsoring universities do it as they are the ones who will hold the money. Charles also continues to lecture the faculty (and students) on various aspects of the Western higher education model. The older faculty are very stagnant and would prefer that their direction still came from Moscow, the younger faculty are much more enthused about the new directions that they can take.
Charles’ PCV friend, Alicia, has left the Peace Corps. This takes the K-11s down to 48 still on the job. If you read other PCV blogs where the PCVs are in villages, there are attitudes that are mirrored in the older faculty that Charles is dealing with. Sometimes these attitudes can be dealt with, sometimes they can’t.
posted by Megan Harkness-Madole at 9:44 PM  |
A four months overdue Dispatch from the Other Side of the World.
October: Autumn settles into Central Asia with rain and leaves falling off of the trees and snow settling into the mountains just to the south of Bishkek. While the weather settles into that pattern of some warm and some cool days, Charles is relegated to using his oven to warm up his place; there is no such thing as a thermostat let alone heat that you control yourself. Charles will finally get his centralized heat on November 1st. And by central heat, that means somewhere in the city; there is no visible heating component in his building; this also goes for hot water production!
Charles has adopted a litter of kittens that live under the building across the street. Their mama is not too friendly but the kittens don’t know any better and let Charles feed them leftovers. He can’t bring one inside because a. PC really doesn’t want you to have pets because b. Charles will be leaving in a year and then where will the cat go?
His job has had its ups and downs. Some of his original grant proposals have been turned down. Charles was not initially made aware that many of the grant-funding organizations in Central Asia only want to fund “projects” and higher education is not a “project”. Perhaps with the addition of some “things” to the grant proposals, success might be had in addition to getting money to get the consultants that are needed to help move the University community along its path. Also, the grant-funding organizations do not give money to Arabaev, Charles must find a university partner somewhere in the developed world who will take on the responsibilities of the money and helping with the transition. Altogether a somewhat frustrating time in Charles’ job. The University of Minnesota had been a partner but pulled out after a final visit at the end of the month from a member of the education faculty. The “U” had all ready worked with Arabaev for a couple of years and decided to not renew their commitment. With all of the program cuts that the “U” has undergone the past few years, this is not surprising.
Charles met up with a number of the new PCVs (K-12) as they were being sheparded around Bishkek with their language teachers; a reminder of what life was like just one year ago. He will meet up with the K-12s again when he is held up as the “old guy” in this outfit.
Charles is acting as coordinator for a debate tournament to be held at Arabaev. The participants are PCV led teams coming in from some of the surrounding areas. And the prizes, maps etc. are coming from the US Embassy.
Rotary International sponsored one of its surgery clinics in Kyrgyzstan and used the PCV network to recruit possible candidates. Charles hosted one of the PCVs, his Kyrgyz girlfriend and her niece (the possible surgery candidate) for a couple of nights because they had traveled from Jalal-Abad. They cooked Kyrgyz food at night and Charles cooked Western food in the mornings.
November: Charles was successfully disenfranchised by the State of Minnesota as were many other Central Asia ex-patriate voters. He never did receive his absentee ballot from Washington County and ended up voting using one of the Federal Write In ballots. This method also applied to the airmen stationed out at Ganci Air Base as well as most of the PCVs in the region. How discouraging for everyone involved! They were supposed to be Fed Exed to the various states; hopefully they all made it. However, Charles did get to watch the returns come in on CNN International; Charles is ten time zones ahead of the East Coast so 8am in Bishkek is 10pm the previous night in Washington.
Tokmok is the new training site for PC so Charles headed out there to talk, in a panel format, about diversity. There were four current volunteers, one Puerto Rican, one homosexual, one Oriental and Charles representing elderly. Charles was able to impart that there is a level of respect given to the old that does not happen in the West. The West warehouses the elderly, in Central Asia they are treated with care and concern and respect. Because of his revered status, Charles has not been subject to some of the insults that younger PCVs have had to deal with such as rocks thrown or slurs said.
Concurrently with trying to land grant money for use by Arabaev, Charles is busy trying to get his boss out of the country. His boss, the Vice Rector, is trying to land a Muskie (not the fish, the US senator) Fellowship and needs help with editing on his English language essays. A Muskie Fellowship will get Arstanbek a free graduate degree in the US. Charles is not sure that Marxist-Leninist Philosophy or the Feeding of Cattle or Basis of Scientific Atheism will cut it in Western academia. Charles also had to hunt and peck his way through typing a page of Russian; even if Charles were fluent in Russian this would be a painful experience as there is no home key setup on their keyboards unlike in English.
Charles also spends time working on tutoring Bakyt, a young man who will be joining his fiancée, Natasha, a newly naturalized US citizen, in Portland, OR, on a bride visa. Another tutee is an English teacher and her son. The group of young hemophiliacs seems to have gotten discouraged after being unable to find a place to meet so Charles has not been meeting with them although he is still looking to help them in whatever way he can.
Charles spent Thanksgiving, celebrated on the Friday after so that more people could join in, with a group of PCVs and ex-patriates. He contributed cranberry-persimmon (on the local market known as komora) rice pudding and apple pie. On the Thursday he had an afternoon session with people from the Japanese language institute and they invited him to dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Charles went even though he knew that he had to meet up with a group of K-11s at the Hyatt for a Thanksgiving buffet. Isn’t Thanksgiving about not being able to move because you are so stuffed?
December: The wine available in Kyrgyzstan is dreadful. Actually all of the alcohol available is dreadful. Vodka is in plentiful supply especially in it’s most basic, rotgut form. Beer is not much better. Charles has finally located wines from Moldova, a country that was once part of the old USSR that is tucked into the side of Ukraine. If you don’t like them, don’t bother cause the French wines that are available are not available on a PCV budget.
Charles went to the K-12 swearing in. Some of the new female volunteers had been given some very distinctive, traditional Kyrgyz headwear. He will not be bringing any of them home!
Snow has come to the land of the Ala Too Mountains. The Kyrgyz do not believe in removing snow from sidewalks, etc. Maybe they do believe in it, it just doesn’t get done so ice rapidly forms underfoot. PC issues these nifty little things called yak trax that are like snow chains for your boots. This is so that you remain upright most of the time and can continue to function.
A tentative plan to head south to Osh for the holidays had to be cancelled because the University Rector has decided that he needs Charles to present a talk during the time that Charles would be gone with Zamir. Instead Charles got together with other PCVs who have decided to stay in-country and go to brunch at the Hyatt.
As last year demonstrated, New Year’s is the big celebration in Kyrgyzstan. Less than a third of the population is any sort of Christian so Christmas has no real meaning but New Year’s has been co-opted to be all sorts of celebrations in one, Christian Christmas and New Year’s and Orthodox Christmas.
The half-way point in Charles’ service was passed on December 10th.
January: Charles spent a couple of weeks doing nothing more than navigating his apartment due to very icy walkways and a fall that left him on crutches. The yak trax are not all that Charles wanted them to be. Thank goodness for the wonderful medical officers, Nazgul and Yelena, at PC Headquarters.
Due to another PCV being medevac’d, Charles has been roped into a long term kitten sitting. Remember those kittens under the building across the street? Well, one of them turned into Vasco the kitten. When the medevac’d PCV returns, Charles will return his new companion to its rightful owner. Currently Vasco responds to commands in Spanish, Russian and English.
Mid-Service training starts on the 23rd so Charles is off to Lake Issyk-Kul again. A different resort from the one used for training last spring. While much of the information presented is not applicable to Charles’ position, it is still a chance to get away and see new things and meet up with a few people that have not been seen in awhile. Unfortunately, PC does not bring the whole K-11 group together for this so it is only the PCVs that are in the northern and eastern parts of the country.
posted by Megan Harkness-Madole at 9:10 PM  |
Summer is coming to an end in Bishkek. The trees are dropping their leaves having gotten so stressed by lack of moisture. Temperatures are falling and the need to have a jacket in the morning and keeping the windows closed is more common than not.
Being in Central Asia does not mean that Charles is in Asia as most Americans think of it. Charles may be next door to China but there are none of the ubiquitous ingredients available on the local market; bamboo shoots and water chestnuts are simply not available even though there is a sizable Chinese population in Kyrgyzstan. This means that Charles has had to get creative or do without; carrots make an acceptable substitute. This is the story of all foods available in Bishkek. There are hamburgers available but there is also the local version called a gamburger which is a cross between a gyro and a hamburger. Some processed foods make it from Turkey or Eastern Europe but they are priced out of sight thanks to shipping charges. However, if you can make it out to Ganci air base (the United States staging point in Kyrgyzstan), you can now enjoy Subway! The very first American fast food joint in town; the rest are ripoffs of American brands. Not really viable for a PCV but it is nice to know that it is there.
PC had a reception for all of the new people in town; those at the airbase including the Air Force surgeon, those at the Embassy and the new ex-pats that have come to town. The surgeon is on a four year “pay-back” tour.
One of Charles’ assignments for Arabaev has been to look up various universities in the area, ie: China, South Korea, Japan, India, to begin an inquiry into whether or not they would be interested in student or faculty exchanges. There are quite a few that have not managed to either have a website or one that is translated into English. Another assignment has Charles giving many different talks to different faculty groups. Charles’ topics have ranged from Manifest Destiny to why we don’t have high walls around our personal properties to what US college students are like to marketing everything.
Another assignment has been added to Charles’ already full schedule. Thanks to the Embassy’s request, he is now working for the Academy of Law working on conversational English for the faculty. The hemophilia group, while they are all back in town, have yet to find a new place to meet so much of the work there is on hold for the present.
August 31 is Independence Day in Kyrgyzstan. No battles were fought; rather the Russians picked up and left in 1991 leaving the country completely devastated. Things have improved enough that everyone puts on their finest and gathers in Ala-Too Square for speeches and entertainment and fireworks at the end of the day.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses have made it to Kyrgyzstan even if you haven’t. Charles has gotten hit up a couple of times to purchase a copy of the Watchtower. While Charles’ response was thanks but no thanks he did enjoy his conversation with the Finnish girl who was fluent in English.
And the new crop, K-12, has arrived in Bishkek. Instead of being based around the Kant area, they are headed out to Tokmok. The Russians took over the airbase at Kant making it a less than ideal area. All ready they have lost one of their over the age of 30 members who left before completing staging. That leaves just two members older than 30 in the newest group; it takes a special kind of person to want to join the Peace Corps and older people just don’t consider it often enough.
For a nice blurb on Charles please check out the School of Education at KU. Click on News & Events. Click on Jayhawk Educator. Click on Summer 2004. Scroll down to page 14 for the alumni snapshot. You will need Adobe Acrobat to view this .pdf file.
posted by Megan Harkness-Madole at 9:17 PM  |
On the one year anniversary of Charles' leaving the United States for his Central Asia adventure I posed these questions to him:
Congratulations! You have made it to the year marker! A year ago today you left Chicago for an amazing experience. Has it lived it up to your expectations? How many people from your group have survived? What has been the defining moment of your year? What do you miss the most about the USA? What do you miss the least? Is there something that you thought you couldn't live without that you have lived without just fine? Are there unexpected things that you wish you had?
Here is Charles' response, verbatim:
It was just a year ago that I and 61 others left Chicago. The most amazing part of it all is that 57 of the original 62 are still here. That must mean that life in Kyrgyzstan is pretty upbeat and livable. As for me: There have been moments of joy, of depression, of dissatisfaction. I've threatened twice to leave, and both times there were positive situation changes. At this point, I'm here to give it a go on the second year. There are three high points in the year: The gift from a group of students at the end of the two weeks of practice teaching (a gift that I'm sure they could ill afford); the pleasure of watching a group of hemophilia youngsters come alive when they realized that somebody outside the scope of their normal existance cared about them; the male Kyrgyz friend whom I see once a week as I work with him to prepare him for a move to the States.Paradoxically, my low points are related to the first of the highs: The realization that the English Department at Kyrgyz National University was not interested in making any change. The Department was not interested in my thoughts, my efforts to change, my working with students. Let's not disturb the status quo. For some five weeks, after I made it clear to the English Department that I would not work with them any longer, I floated in a limbo, wondering from day to day when I would pack up and leave, even writing Megan once to unpack the box she was about to send me because I was on my way home. I literally bought my food one day at a time, thinking that "tomorrow I will leave here." And then, Peace Corps rescued me, giving me a new assignment that is truly one of the best, and most challenging, jobs that I've ever had.And at this point, what do I miss from the States? Everything. What can I live without? Everything. Life here isn't always easy; little successes can be rewarding (I'm doing a pretty good job of making my own tortillas.) It is difficult conveying concepts of America that are in conflict with the re-runs of sitcoms and the movies. It is rewarding to see looks of recognition when a point finally gets through.Wondering what a trip to Central Asia might be like? (Other than an awfully long airplane ride.) Don't believe the guide books except for the scenery (spectacular) and the historic sites. All books are woefully out of date: Bishkek has made great strides toward becoming a real city. Yes, there are potholes in the streets; yes, trash collection is erratic; yes, things are done differently here (So is that unusual?)The only tragedy is that this experience is occuring toward the end of my life, rather than when I was still young and vibrant. I wonder what my life would have been like, had I been able to be in the Peace Corps at the age of 28, rather than 78.
posted by Megan Harkness-Madole at 10:16 AM  |
An Update from the Other Side of the World:
Charlie’s B&B, or rather Food and Floor, is remaining a popular stop off in Bishkek. During a normal week, Charles might see at least a couple of PCVs, most transiting for out of country vacations. And speaking of vacations, Charles just returned from a week-long vacation in Bangkok and other points in Thailand.
Prior to going on his altogether too short adventure, Charles spent much of July throwing himself headlong into his new job with Arabaev University. This has included getting in touch with different universities that all ready had a relationship with Arabaev such as Hamline University and the University of Minnesota and forming new relationships with other universities that have previously shown some sort of interest in faculty/student exchanges. Also on tap is contacting universities in neighboring countries that might like to do exchanges; Charles is working his way through a very large list of places in China. Unfortunately many of the faculty know no language other than Russian or Kyrgyz which will make exchanges much more difficult; hopefully this and other obstacles can be overcome.
Charles is also pursuing many routes of obtaining grant money to move Arabaev from the Soviet model to the Western model. Part of this money will go toward improving the computer system; currently Charles has to work from his apartment as there simply is no computer for him at Arabaev. As he was working to update the university website, he discovered that it is only up online from 9:30 until 5 six days a week; this means that most of the developed world as we know it would never see this website because it simply doesn’t exist while we are awake. Unfortunately, many of the faculty think that Charles can just write a note requesting $100,000 and it will magically appear with no strings attached. This, of course, is not going to happen so as the requests for money pile up, Charles’ stack of things to do increases.
Charles’ hemophilia kids group is back in session as all of the summer vacations are over with in that little group. He is hoping to continue the computer work that he started with them last spring and, maybe, even use grant money to purchase a couple of computers for them to use instead of lugging his laptop to them every week.
The previously mentioned Sixth of July celebration was a good one and well attended by local PCVs along with other Central Asian PCVs that happened to be in the area. No fireworks but plenty of noise from popping balloons.
Weather remains hot and dry with transient rain showers that dampen down the dust and relieve the heat for just a while. Charles has no idea how the plants that are away from the irrigation system stay alive but they do; they drop yellow leaves and replace them with new green ones on a regular basis. There are slight variations towards cool and rainy but that never lasts long.
53 som or about $1.25 will buy 2 kilos each of tomatoes, potatoes and onions, a half kilo of vermicelli, a handful of hot peppers and a pack of cigarettes. As the season advances, fresh fruit and vegetables are on the verge of disappearing. Unfortunately, Charles’ facilities do not include anything with which to can so he is stocking up on fresh vitamins now in expectation of a long winter.
Come autumn, there will be 73 new volunteers. And next spring there will be another set of volunteers. Of the new volunteers one is aged 57, two are in their 30s and the rest are the young bunch of 23-25 year olds. Charles remains the patriarch of the PCVs in Kyrgyzstan. Even with the ramping up of operations in Kyrgyzstan, there are still safety concerns as the unrest continues in Uzbekistan with periodic bombings of American and affiliated targets. There is no lack of American targets in Bishkek with Ganci Air Base and the Embassy and the PC Headquarters. Kyrgyzstan does have a reputation of being one of the more stable of the former republics so, hopefully, the unrest will be unable to spill over the border.
Charles’ trip to Thailand was good chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones of the ambassador and the PC country director, both friends of the old friends. It was also an opportunity to see the ocean and to eat seafood of all kinds including ones that had not previously been sampled. After 11 months of nothing but local food this made a nice change. A beach weekend at Hua Hin also occurred. The only way out of Bishkek is to go west or north. Thus Charles ended up on Uzbekistan Airways. Charles thought that the service was better than any he had received on any US airline and the equipment was new, 767s and A310s. Thankfully PC had lifted the travel restriction to Uzbekistan in time for Charles to make his transfers at the Tashkent airport.
Mentions of Kyrgyzstan in the Western media:
A group of 500 Afghan refugees many of whom have been in Kyrgyzstan for decades will finally find a permanent home on this side of the world in Canada. CBC As It Happens
Central Asia is the home to a common genetic ancestor to everyone but Australian aborigines and Africans. PBS documentary “Journey of Man”
Article on what happens to Kyrgyzstan Olympic tickets. Slate.com
posted by Megan Harkness-Madole at 6:38 PM  |