Thursday, September 27, 2012

September 27, 2012

Another glorious day in Bishkek with temperatures ranging from 50 to 77 degrees and the sun shining endlessly. I was delighted to have the morning to myself while waiting for the technician to come and connect me to the Internet. It only took him about fifteen minutes to have the connection up and running.

Zarina called me to remind me to be ready by 12:30pm so their driver could pick me up to take me to the embassy for my security briefing. I had to dash across the street to buy another meal of noodles and salad for a quick lunch before he arrived. The highlight of the security briefing was the officer’s remarks that we should not use marshrutkas for our transportation because they were crowded and thus unsafe. I asked him what his recommendation was for someone like me who needed to ride one to work. He stated that the buses or trolleys were safer, which I disagreed with, or even better, their recommended taxi companies. The mini-buses are the most efficient way of getting anywhere around here and I’ll continue to use them while observing some caution.

I snapped some photos of the fancy apartment building complexes surrounding the embassy. These are newer buildings and the rent starts at upwards of $1000.00 per month. Given the fact that these are located in the suburbs, a car would be a must.

Natalia loaded me with books that I could possibly use during my presentations and promised to get me a box of books from the English publication department. I forgot to bring my debit card to withdraw money from their ATM as I suspect it’d make for a much safer operation.

I was informed that the Ministry of Education had refused to accept the wallet-sized photos I’d brought from the States because they were too large and lacked the white background they required. Zarina took me to the place recommended by the embassy and they produced nine miniature photos for them. You can barely tell it’s me in the little square.

At the currency exchange place, they refused to take my four $20.00 bills because each one exhibited some kind of mark or lettering and they claimed the bank would reject these bills. We went to two other banks with the same results. I have no idea how many of these bills I might have with me, but it seems crazy to have them rejected on that basis. I wonder if the embassy would be willing to exchange them for som?
Zarina and the driver dropped off where I could take the mini-bus and I managed to buy the first of their samsas, or samosas, the tasty meat patty so favored as street food here. I have to say that the one I ate was infinitely tastier than the ones I used to buy in Dushanbe only when I was starving and unable to get to a restaurant. This one was piping hot, moist and flavorful.

I spent the rest of the evening catching up with my emails, updating my Facebook page and delighting on the images found in my newest online find: Pinterest. In addition, I uploaded the photos of my apartment to my FB page and got tons of interior decorating ideas from my friends. Invaluable, indeed.

All in all, I had another fabulous day.

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