Life At Point C

Experiencing Life along the Silk Road


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You Might Live in a Village When… (Part 4)

cows in townThere is a sure fire way to know you live in a village and here it is. It’s when you dodge not only cars and pedestrians, but also livestock while driving. It is a common sight to look out my apartment window and find sheep and cows grazing on the roadside. Walk through a neighborhood and you are sure to see all manner of farm animals napping or eating in front of their owner’s home. Sometimes, you have to wonder where they came from as they are tied up on a tree or sign post and no home is readily nearby.

Then of course there are the livestock used for transportation. This could be someone on horseback (incidentally I just saw a woman on horseback, a first in KG) or with a beast of burden pulling a card. Our local coffee shop was even selling two donkeys back in the summer thanks to a French tourist who purchased them for hiking only to learn that it was faster to travel without them. I’ve never seen an ox pulling a cart but I see horses, mules, and donkeys doing so all the time.

Best of all was the day I saw a small boy walking the family cow on a leash. We were out looking for office space when the cow came around the corner heading to a vacant lot to munch on some grass. I know the boy was holding the leash but I assure you, the cow was walking the boy. I only wish I had a picture of that one!


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Sweetened Condensed Milk

I remember my friend Sarah and I finding sweetened condensed milk in one of the first stores that I walked into outside of Bishkek. I don’t remember now if that store was in Karakol or on our way from Bishkek to Karakol. I found it odd that such a small store with such a limited stock would have sweetened condensed milk. Since that first encounter, I have noticed these cans just about everywhere, from the largest grocery stores in Bishkek to the smallest side of the road kiosks. I recently bought a can to make a dessert and it really got me thinking…what are most people buying sweetened condensed milk for? It is not really common for people here to make desserts at home. So I asked my Russian tutor. Her first answer was that it was used to make a particular cake. Ok, I thought, but the rare cake doesn’t explain its abundant availability. And then it came…and some people put it in their tea. Aha, that’s it! This is its real use in Kyrgyzstan. They say you can’t live without tea. Well, I tried it. Not yet in my tea. I tried it first in my coffee. Let me tell you, it wasn’t too bad. I don’t think it will be replacing my sugar and cream, but I do now understand its marketability.

 russian sweetened condensed milk


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You Might Live in a Village When… (Part 3)

Back in May, I was out with a friend looking for some good places for a picnic for our language students. We went out to a beautiful, narrow valley near Ak Suu and then he mentioned an overlook on a ridge near Karakol’s brick factory. This is only about a 10 minute drive from the office and still within Karakol itself so I thought, why not take a look. After all, Ak Suu is a lot farther away.

So as we drove past the power plant and turned onto a small semi-paved road climbing the ridgeline, we seemed to be going nowhere. But before long, we reached the brick factory and had a great view of Karakol and the valley it sits within. But just up ahead was a somewhat steep hill with a dirt path going up. I thought to myself, “I bet that has amazing views. It is on the front of the ridge but higher than anything else without turning and going farther away from town towards the mountains. I wander if we could park at the base and walk up? I wander if I could drive up?”

I turned to my friend and told him my thoughts and off we went. I locked the center differential and drove on up the path and found myself with this amazing view of all of Karakol and even the shore of Lake Issyk Kul. (It felt much steeper driving back down!)

I took Magevney up a few days ago and realized, I’ve found the perfect spot to be alone to read or just get away for a couple of hours, all with a view of the village I call home. Only in a village could I get a view like this, feel totally alone, and be just five minutes from town and ten from home.

Karakol, Kyrgyzstan