Coming from the southwest I was familiar with snow, but it usually wouldn’t stick around long enough to transform into ice. Our formidable foe, the sun, would come out and decimate it quickly. Our first winter in Kyrgyzstan was the coldest in years. I was excited at the idea of snow everyday. But that excitement waned as we had to learn to shuffle across the ice without slipping. The temperature would never get warm enough for the snow to melt so it would just get compacted into ice several inches thick…everywhere.
It was pretty obvious who the foreigners were and who were locals because the locals had already figured out the ice dance. There would even be women in stiletto boots that would walk confidently across compacted snow and ice. We were convinced that they transformed the stiletto heel into an ice pick and that’s how they got their traction. In the middle of almost every sidewalk there would be a sliver of exposed black ice, like the painted stripes in the middle of the road. After seeing these slivers my husband coined the term “ice demon” because he was sure that little demons would come out every night to create patches of super slick black ice in the middle of the sidewalks. Who would intentionally create these patches, right? The locals cleverly navigated these booby traps of embarrassment by gracefully sliding across them. Once my husband was walking alongside a friend and before he knew it he was parallel to the ground and fell on his side. Thankfully I only slipped and fell a couple times that winter and soon developed the delicate waltz that is the ice shuffle. However, that was in Bishkek. My Karakol ice shuffles are yet to be told.