Lots of Cake
So this last week we did our permanent site visits. Our site announcements happened to be on the same day as the election back in the states, so our director, as soon as he found out who won, came down to the training meeting to pass out the acceptant speech. Everybody was pretty psyched (at least all the democrats of the group). It was kind of weird to be on the other side of the world when such a big thing was happening back in the States. Our director told us it was the biggest turn out at the polls since 1930 something or other-so that was pretty wild. I really would have loved to see even like 5 minutes off CNN to see when it was going down. But what can ya do.. Anyway, after all that, they gave us our placements. Come December I will be living in Tejen City, Ahal for the rest of my time here. They bussed/flew our counterparts up to meet us, and the next day we traveled with them for site visits. Half of our folks had to take a plane and/or train, cause the roads are crappy pretty much everywhere.
Tejen is going to be an interesting town-the population is about 30,000-but its not really a city besides having a big bazaar. There are 10 schools-my school has about 2,000 kids, although only about 6 English teachers. There is no infrastructure or city center, although they do have a post office, and a telegraph office. Most of the roads aren’t paved, so it feels like a big town. In fact when I was walking to work the first morning we had to chill for a little bit cause there was a huge heard of camels hogging the main street, and we had to wait till they went on their way. It was definitely an interesting morning commute, to say the least. The nearest internet place I found out is in the Capital, so I will be looking at a 2 hour taxi ride whenever I have to go in…so needless to say I won’t be checking my email that much after December. Right now I have it pretty posh cause our village is only 20 min. outside the city AND it has an Internet café. So prepare to hear from me a lot less folks The site visit was interesting, I met my new host family, who seem like cool people-although I really love my host family now-its going to be really hard to leave them. My host mom is an English teacher as well, although she doesn’t really speak English, so that’s where I’m going to come in handy. It was pretty interesting because the same week I came to visit, her husband, who’s been living in Turkey for 2 years working, and who she or her children haven’t seen the whole time, came back the second day I was there. So it was a pretty crazy few days, to say the least- the arrival of the American AND the dad’s homecoming. They’ve got two little kids, a four year old and a six-year old-and he hadn’t seen them since they were toddlers-so the reuniting was pretty wild. Needless to say that for about three days there was a lot of guesting, vodka, and cake going around.
I met the other volunteers who are at my site, and they seem like cool people. There is a married couple that are finishing their service in a few weeks, so they’ll be gone by the time I get back, and another guy who is here for another year. They showed me around and helped me get oriented a little bit-the city/town is pretty big, and since there is no bus service there, I’m going to be walking A LOT. They have an English resource center that a previous volunteer set up, which is like a little haven of materials and a great place for clubs. I already promised a few people from other schools that I would work with them too, doing teacher training and exam tutoring-so instead of working with just my school, it looks like I’m going to be involved in a couple of the other schools as well. We’ll see how busy I’ll get when I start my service.
I have officially sworn off cake forever. So after four days at me new site, three of which my new host mom baked cakes for several different occasions, one being a welcome home party, and other because the in-laws came over, and other just because… I came back to Ashgabat, and it just happened to be my birthday. I had totally spaced it out, then at the office one of my training mates mentioned that his birthday had been the day before, and then somebody was like, “so what’s today?”, “the12th” and I was like, “whoa, I’m officially 25 then!” So when we bussed back to our village after our meeting, a bunch of the other volunteers chipped in and bought ANOTHER cake and we walked to our local café to eat it and get some beer. The electricity in the café was out (electricity is out a lot in this country) so the girl at the café scrounged up some candles and we had a birthday celebration by candlelight, complete with beer and meat Kabobs. (The Turkmen eating at the table next to us were pretty amused by us, as its not often a heard of foreigners show up at a random café carrying a cake and dragging suitcases) Then the next day, my Language trainer and some of my training mates bought a cake during our lunch break for the two of us who had birthdays in my group, and got us some presents! Then, to top it all off, when I tromped home after work, my host father had gone to Ashgabat and bought home ANOTHER cake, to have our own surprise ‘mini’ party that night with my host siblings.
And anyone want to make a guess at what we ate for breakfast the next morning?? Who ever said you can’t have your cake and eat it too has obviously never been to Turkmenistan. Lots and lots of cake in this country form what I can tell. I wonder if that’s why everyone has gold teeth…
All in all this whole last two weeks have been a trip. I discovered I can’t upload pictures very well due to the Internet around here, so unless I can get some printed out somewhere before December, everybody will just have to imagine Turkmenistan in your heads…That’s about it for now. Love everyone bunches!
Oh yeah, and if anyone wants to send care packages…right now I’d dig some good magazines, yarn, cooking spices, and baking powder/soda. And in December I’m getting a French press passed down from another volunteer who’s leaving, so ground coffee and French vanilla coffee mate creamer is always welcome Peace.