Life At Point C

Experiencing Life along the Silk Road


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Canning Salsa

teh finished jars of salsa

The tomatoes, onions, cilantro, garlic, and peppers bought at the bazaar last week were put to good use canning salsa. I must admit I was terrified to spear head my own canning project this year. Last year I was more behind the scenes on all the canning endeavors, not paying much attention to the science and mechanics of it all. But, alas, my canning buddies from last year are now in the states so I needed to figure it out. I invited two new friends along for moral support.

We fumbled our way through the process, asking ourselves whether or not to: heat the jars in the oven with water, completely submerge the cans in the water bath, and allow the filled jars to rest right side up or upside down. One of the difficulties of canning here is that it is so different from canning in the states. (Not that I have ever canned in the States!). Neither screw bands nor water baths are used in the canning process here. Screw bands keep the lids secure during the water bath. We decided to employ a water bath that did not completely cover the jars in case the lids weren’t sealed correctly. The lids popped up during the water bath and then while cooling indented back in. I’m not 100% sure that all of our choices were right but the jars appear to be sealed. If anyone sees a health risk in our future, speak now! Otherwise I’ll be blissfully ignorant and continue on to the next canning endeavor: apple sauce!

 


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You Might Live in a Village When… (Part 2)

the mountains east of Karakol KyrgyzstanThe other day, I went to Tsum with my oldest daughter to pick up a couple of items and make a stop by our local butcher. She also got an ice cream cone that promptly covered her face and garnered many smiles and a few comments from those walking by. As we were standing there in front of the building, in the very center of town, I looked up at the gorgeous view of the mountains east of the city.

As I looked on, I thought to myself, where else could I live and be in the very middle of the city and have such an unobstructed view like the one before me. That is one of the great aspects of life in our little corner of Kyrgyzstan. Wherever you are, you have amazing views. I can look out my bedroom window at purple mountains forming the Kazakh border. I can look out our balcony at the towering peaks forming the border with China. To the south are more peaks of mountainous Kyrgyzstan.

I once read that Kyrgyzstan is the most beautiful country on the plant and that it is the Switzerland of Asia. I have to agree. Of all the places I have been, none has the natural beauty of Kyrgyzstan and within Kyrgyzstan, few places can touch our little northeastern corner with its towering peaks and alpine lake. Throw in the near constant sunshine and clean air and you have a little piece of heaven on earth. No city can offer this. I’m loving the village life.


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Summer Bazaar

summer produce from the central bazaar in Karakol KyrgyzstanWithout a doubt, late summer in Kyrgyzstan is the best time to shop for produce. Since produce is largely seasonal and mostly locally grown, it is the most abundant and the cheapest during the end of summer. After summer’s abundance, many produce items simply cannot be found, and those that can be found may be double in price. These facts definitely motivate me to carry on the canning tradition, which my friends and I started last year. Scott recently made a bazaar run for me to buy produce for my latest canning session (salsa), along with some extra fruits and veggies. More about the canning session later.

For now, I want to show you the kinds of produce and the prices that can be found at the bazaar during the summer. (See my blog on a trip to the bazaar I took last winter). Here is a picture of what we bought. It included 2 kg of tomatoes, 1.5 kg of onions, two bunches of cilantro, a bunch of basil, 3 zucchini, 3 bulbs of garlic, 5 bell peppers, 16 other peppers, 3 large potatoes, 1 kg of peaches, and half a kilo of grapes. And the cost? Drum roll please…390 som or approximately $8. Someone want to go buy all of this in the states and let me know how much it costs you? 😉


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You Might Live in a Village When… (Part 1)

our front dorToday I begin a new series about living life in rural Kyrgyzstan. I hope you enjoy my anecdotes about village life and that it helps you get a better picture of this beautiful country and its beautiful people.

I was reminded the other day about how small a community village life really is when we had a knock on our door. We have only been back home a few weeks and have not begun teaching our English conversation classes. We are waiting on the university to resume classes so that our students know their university schedules. The university does not resume until September so we have a little time to get the new office set up and do some other projects that have been put off.

We made the decision in the spring to limit our conversation students to those who were previously involved in our English program simply because our teaching staff is greatly reduced. We thought that we would give those students who had put in the work a chance to improve their skills and to continue to develop our relationships with them. If space is available we will open up to new students of course.

Well a few days ago, Magevney and I thought we heard a knock on the door. Odd we thought, as we don’t usually get unannounced guests other than people delivering bills. So when I opened the door, I find two young girls, maybe 15 years old each, standing on our landing between our apartment and our office. They wanted to know when we started new English classes. What makes this odd is that we have not had a single class in the new office nor have we advertised a new location. We hadn’t even started putting things together in the new office. Word spreads rapidly in a village. Somehow these girls heard about it and took the initiative to come looking. I admire their dedication but alas, they are a little too young for our program. Sorry girls, maybe in a few years.