In Karakol the icy situation is similar to Bishkek. Icy sidewalks are the norm where there is shade. There is a part of town where we like to shop that faces away from the sun, so the sidewalk is always shady. The ice on this stretch gets several inches thick so that every now and again a jackhammer is used to break it up. I usually have to shuffle along to keep from slipping. I’ve stated before that there is little as far as recreation here but one popular activity is ice-skating. For a town of 60,000 I’ve seen 3 city rinks and 1 “homemade” rink next to an apartment building.
As my family will shamelessly tell you I’m not known for staying on my feet. It amazes me how graceful people can be on ice and I was quite proud of myself for avoiding slipping and falling all season. That is until a few weeks ago. The weather had been warm so there were little streams of muddy water flowing down the street. To avoid the mud we walked on the sidewalk, although it wasn’t all that better. Carrying our son, Derrick gracefully walked across a muddy patch of water. Seeing that was my least muddy path I followed in his footsteps. Halfway through my foot slipped and I caught myself, while realizing that this wasn’t just a muddy patch of sidewalk. While there was an upper layer of muddy water, a layer of ice lay underneath. The moment one foot released tension to move forward I completely slipped and fell into the muddy water on top of the ice. Dirty water splashed up on my face and my whole right side was soaked. I laid there in the puddle, stunned, not able to pick myself up, half wanting to just roll around in the water because, what the heck, I was already half wet. I started to laugh, not knowing what else to do and wondering how silly I looked lying there. Passersby looked at me strangely, not knowing if they should help or just let me be. There was a chance they could slip, too. My son, having recently learned the word dirty, quickly began telling me that I was dirty. I picked myself up, walked to the back of my friend’s vehicle, and tried to clean up as much as possible. I don’t think it would have been as embarrassing, if I hadn’t let out a loud, “whoop!” as I started to slip the first time. That got everyone’s attention and therefore upped the amount of people interested in what was going on. That day I must have not been wearing my dancing shoes because the delicate ice shuffle waltz got the better of me.