Monday, January 28, 2013

January 27, 2013

Despite my best intentions of getting up very early to finish packing before going downstairs to have breakfast, the cell phone alarm didn’t go off as apparently the battery is already too weak. I got up at half past seven and rushed into the bathroom to take a shower while a pounding headache propelled me to act very fast.

Jennifer, Irvin and David were the only ones downstairs, so I joined them to listen to Jennifer’s experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Poland. David asked me for assistance in setting up the conference room, so I gulped my coffee and followed him after having my now customary sandwich of pickled herring and cheese.

His session on ways to supplement any textbook to insure that all four skills were integrated into the lesson was thoughtful and well-planned. I hated to leave early, but I had been signed up to spend the next hour with the Access coordinators so all of us would have an idea as to what they do and how it is done. Annah was conducting a session there on a similar idea, this time asking the coordinators for ways to enhance the syllabus. The group I joined was working on putting on a fashion show during the summer where the students would use recycled materials for their costumes. I made a few suggestions before we headed for a coffee break.

I listened to the presentations of the other groups while jotting notes for the future until Jennifer tapped in the shoulder and told me I could rejoin the other group and listen to Toni’s presentation on using pictures to teach English. I was delighted to be able to do so since I’ll be presenting on the same topic on February 9 at the Forum session. When I walked in, the participants were working on drawing a family tree of their partners, a novel idea for me, but no pictures were being used.

I skipped the rest of the session so I could take my backpack to the front desk and remind them I’d need a cab at two o’clock. We then had a last session with Valerie who described the process she had gone through to get the Access students in Almaty to create a travel brochure for foreigners visiting the city. Certificates were awarded after this, email list handed out and last minute housekeeping details discussed.

It was time for the last luncheon at the hotel and they must have gone all out for we had salmon wheels, roasted vegetables, borscht and pumpkin soup and many other delicacies. I sat next to Corrie and we finally had a chance to catch up with what was going on in Dushanbe. I then learned that the fellow assigned to Khulob had never made it there as he turned out to be a lush, and when Georgetown did a background check on him to determine if a termination was warranted, turned out to have a criminal record of some sort.

My taxi was waiting for me and the cute bell boy brought my backpack to it. The driver offered to take me all the way to Bishkek if I was so inclined, but I turned him down for I find the long rides with just a driver a bit unnerving. I also find myself more at ease in a minibus full of passengers than being the sole occupant of a vehicle.

I managed to get into a marshrutka with the two front seats available with much pantomiming, gestures and writing down of fares, but even after I paid for the seats, the driver wanted to throw my backpack in the trunk. I firmly reminded him the two seats belonged to me and the backpack was staying. He then backed off while the rest of the passengers stared at me incredulously.

Getting out of the city was still a nightmare on a Sunday afternoon for I had imagined that traffic was going to be lighter. We only stopped once, for ten minutes and I made use of them to get to the smelly bathroom quickly. I then managed to doze off repeatedly as the road was relatively smooth at that point. Going through immigration and customs was relatively fast, but for some reason that I don’t understand, the van took about an hour and half to reappear.

I was accosted by numerous men wanting to take me into the city in their taxis, but I stuck close to the two women I could recognize from the bus terminal until our marshrutka made it back. It started to rain as we got into the city and as we unloaded, other taxi drivers started shouting for passengers. I gave the names for my intersection to one of them and was quickly taken home.

When I got the third floor of my apartment complex, I was delighted to see that all construction materials had disappeared from the landing. I sincerely hope that all construction is now finished and peace and quiet can be back for good. I only had toast and Nutella available for dinner along with a glass of compote and that was what I had.

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