A few years ago my wife, our co-worker Todd, and I went for a cruise after dark. We closed up our student center in Bishkek for the night at 9:30 p.m. We were hungry so we went down the street to get a burger. We drove in a dark, navy blue van. After we ordered our food, one of our local friends called us. Her name is Asel, and she wanted to know if the student center was still open. We told her that we had closed up and were eating a late dinner. She needed a ride to a certain part of town so that she could then catch a bus home. We just offered her a ride home. We grabbed our hamburgers and made our way to her University to pick her up.
I thought it was odd that she needed to get to a certain intersection for a bus home. Bishkek is pretty simple to get around and there were plenty of buses still around after 9 p.m. “Where are you going?” we asked. “I am going to my home, in Jal” She replied. AHA! She was heading home to the village 25 minutes outside of Bishkek. We left the city joking and laughing with dinner to go.
We talked about everything we had been doing at our student center and at the University. I remember very little conversation that night, but I do remember a ton of bumps and holes in the road. Once we were within 10 minutes of her home, the road got severely worse. Being accustomed to roads on the Navajo reservation, the bumpy drive felt a little like home to me and my wife. We arrived at her home and we were greeted by her parents. They thanked us greatly for driving their daughter home. They invited us into their home for tea. Once inside, we also met Asel’s sister. For the rest of our time there, we talked to Asel and her sister about our student center while we had tea and cookies. After what seemed like about an hour, we finished and said our goodbyes. My wife, Todd, and I talked about our day and how great it was to drive out to this village, Jal. We got back into Bishkek around midnight and Todd dropped us off at our apartment. Since then we nicknamed the van “Midnight.” This night is one of many stories the three of us had after 12 a.m.