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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Anniversaries and Eyeballs

My site mate and I Russ,
and Dinner. Yum.

Anniversary Nostalgia and Eyeballs
Sept 20, 2009

Well, put a candle in it, because in less than 2 weeks it will mark exactly 1 year (Oct. 1st) since I’ve touched down into this crazy, interesting, and at times challenging, country. Although it didn’t seem like it at first, two years really is a pretty chunk of time to sign away to uncle Sam and go run around somewhere to play in the dirt and spread my knowledge of English verb conjugations. I’m amazed, yet again, at how strangely time passes in another country, especially when you are trying to set up a life for yourself all the while knowing it isn’t permanent. At this point it is looking like I’ll have spent the majority of my twenties overseas, and there are still times where I ask myself, is it worth it? Trying to keep ties with friends and family is hard enough when people start to go their own ways, and move on with new jobs or relationships-but add a few thousand miles and a constantly changing zip code to the mix, and it makes it ever trickier. Talking with other volunteers, it’s weird to think we’ve already put in a year here, because there are still days when we still feel like we have the cultural aptitude of toddlers, but yet there isn’t a volunteer here who hasn’t missed important events of close friends and loved ones back home-weddings, new babies, and even funerals. It’s amazing how many things can happen in such a short amount of time, and although in the grand scope of things two years is a drop in the bucket, when you start adding all those things up, you realize how precious that time really is and wonder if it’s worth it. So, to all my family and friends back home or elsewhere, I send you a grand hug, and hope everyone is well and happy!

On a lighter note: I have been through some serious gastric Olympics in the last year with the ever-surprising Turkmen cuisine, but this week I trumped my record and ate the most adventuresome thing to date. The other day my host father brought home a goat head and legs from his Mothers house, and by the giddy look on his face, I knew that could only mean one thing: Kellebashlyk. Kellebashlyk, (or Death in a Bowl, as I like to refer to it), is when they take the head and hooves of a cow, goat, or camel, and boil them till the meat comes off the bones. They hollow out the neck or crack open the top of the skull, and scoop out the brain mush and eyes, and eat them with the bone mallow broth, which is basically the leftover water from the boiled head. Sound delicious? Well, it also happens to be my host father’s favorite meal (a DELICACY, to quote him). And after months of avoiding this particular dish, this week I finally manned up and tried it. For one, I am not fasting for Ramadan and therefore had no more legitimate excuses, and two, there was nothing left to eat in the house except old tomato sauce and shredded beets. So I figured hey, what the hell, what the worse that can happen? Just yet another notch on my culinary bedpost. I’ve done weirder things, right? So I bellied up to the bar, grabbed a spoon, and dug in. The highlight of the meal? My host father, so psyched that I finally agreed to try it, dug out an especially goopy eyeball, popped out the hard center, and crammed it in my mouth. My overall feeling on the matter? Although goat eyeball isn’t really that vile, I don’t see Apple Bee’s putting it on their Super Starters Menu any time soon.
Well, that’s about it for now. Getting ready for a nice two day weekend, as there is no school this Monday due to the end of Ramadan (party!!! Because now people can EAT again), and then I’m back to the grind. My grant project is getting close to being finished, and classes are going pretty good. So bring it on year two! I’m ready for you (and if I’m not, there’s always counseling and therapy later on in life). Peace and Rainbow Skittles ya’ll.

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