Sunday, March 24, 2013

March 23, 2013

I had hardly gotten any sleep since the mosquitoes danced around me all night sometimes landing on my face, my neck or my bare arms. It’s really incomprehensible to me that people can actually live in a place packed with mosquitoes and not be bothered by it at all. I had a throbbing headache to soothe and cursed myself out for not bringing my own coffeemaker as I usually do. I hadn’t even asked Holly if she drank coffee.

Bill had been generous enough to share some of his Dunkin Donuts brand of coffee with and in the absence of a coffeemaker, I boiled the water in a small saucepan, dropped the coffee powder in it and let it steep for a bit before pouring it through a fine sieve. It was all right for the time being. I read for a while since I still didn’t have Internet access.

Holly was the first up and got me connected to the Internet in no time at all. We had agreed to meet for brunch with the guys at ten at a restaurant that aspires to offer French dishes and once we all got ready, we just walked there. The place offered a terrace on the second floor and we thought it was warm enough to have our breakfast there.

There was no “brunch” in the sense I had expected, so I settled for a combination of salad, cheese sandwich, hard-boiled egg and cappuccino. Holly and Valerie ordered teas which came in a pretty glass teakettle and contained mint along with either orange rind or cherries. I tried both of them while waiting for my coffee and they turned out to be delicious.

The guys arrived with the two local women who promptly complained it was too cold for them, even after Bill wrapped a blanket around one of them, and we had to go in search of a table inside. When my dish arrived, the bread had been toasted so long ago that it could have served as a missile. It had no butter or mayonnaise spread on it and the cheese was totally cold. The salad consisted of bits of lettuce and some vinaigrette only. No coffee came with it.

I got some mayonnaise after a while, but still no coffee. Someone ordered the Georgian dish kachapuri that I had enjoyed in Tajikistan and I had a bite of it since it was fresh off the oven. My coffee finally came and it was more milk than actual coffee. As we left the restaurant, Max was hit on the head by the metal piece that allows the door to close back by itself.

Some employees standing nearby started to laugh and enraged Max to the point that he went back inside and threatened to suit them for damages. I went back inside and took him by the arm insisting he needed to let it go as no good would come of such confrontation. He was still livid, but allow me to steer him clear of the restaurant.

The guys returned to their place while the women went for a tour of Shymkent starting with the famed bazaar, the monuments to the current president, the numerous parks with their respective statues and the latest shopping entertainment complex.

I bought a pair of black tights at the market to go along with my black skirt for the presentation on Tuesday at a village nearby where women are expected to dress somewhat more conservatively than in the city. I found huge red grapes at a stall and asked the woman where they came from: Argentina she replied.

I looked for a simple tank top to wear under my pantsuit that would not have any glitter or ads in it, but it wasn’t about to happen. In addition, prices here were higher than in Bishkek, so I gave up and decided to wear the same top I had from my sweater set.

We paused for coffee at one of the same chain of restaurants from the morning and I had a dish of sliced beef and mushrooms set over a layer of hash brown potatoes, something I hadn’t eaten in ages. The coffee was still a ratio of too much milk to coffee, but it satiated my craving.

We walked back to the apartment walking through the cloud of mosquitoes that gather at the entrance to the building. I was glad it was still light outside for the building doesn’t have a single light bulb on any of its landings. Another one of Holly’s roommates was at home then and we chatted for a while.

Holly informed me the guys were cooking dinner and I was invited. I declined letting them know I was still full and very tired and wanted nothing more than to go to bed early. I had purchased some muesli and yogurt on the way to the flat and Holly had dried fruits and nuts to add to it and that’s what I had for dinner while catching up with my emails and Facebook postings.

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