Sunday, May 5, 2013

May 3, 2013

Someone woke me up at 5:00 am by loudly pounding on the door of one of the rooms on the corridor. I was startled for a minute thinking that perhaps the building was on fire and everyone needed to evacuate it, but apparently it was just some uncouth person who couldn’t care about the fact that the rest of us needed our sleep.

After tossing and turning for more than forty minutes, I finally got up to make coffee. While the coffee was brewing, I opened the door to small fridge in the dining room area curious to see what they could possibly have there since we have only been fed rice porridge and eggs so far. The fridge was completely empty except for a couple of packages of butter.

We had to pack the Forum magazines and video games that were to be given to the attendees, and I carried some laminated photos to show how they could be used during my workshop on teaching writing. Breakfast consisted of two boiled eggs again, the bread I’ve come to dislike, and tea.

The weather was pleasant but overcast again. Elvira delivered the bad news that rain was in the forecast for Saturday when we were planning on visiting the walnut forest. I’d already set my mind to visiting the place regardless of the weather since I might never come back to this area again in my life.

The morning session went well and I was pleased to be told that the teachers had arranged for the entire group to share a plov lunch at a nearby restaurant. The plov was delicious as it was made with lamb meat as opposed to beef and with the local rice variety called Uzgun.

I did the Rockwell presentation to which I had added some more paintings and rushed through it a bit since we were running behind schedule. Elvira informed me that no one from the Ministry of Education had shown an interest in attending the closing ceremony, so we were to do it alone.

Certificates were handed out, tons of photos were taken, a group photo was taken in the courtyard nearby and then I was finally free to return to my room. Still no Wi-Fi was to be had. I made a pot of coffee and had it in my room while reviewing the evaluation forms the attendees had completed. Very few had added any comments and most claimed to be highly satisfied with the experience.

We both changed into jeans and headed into town to visit an Internet café and check our emails. I asked Elvira to get off the marshrutka before reaching the center so I could photograph the burned out building belonging to the former Uzbek University which had been destroyed during the revolt of 2010 after Kyrgyz nationals perceived that the Uzbek minority had taken control of the region.

I had previously photographed a house just behind the university that had also been torched and its yawning windows still showed the pale blue frescoes in the traditional atlas Uzbek designs on the walls.

We took a walk through one of the bazaars to secure another converter for me as the one I’d purchased in Shymkent was no longer working. We then found an Internet café and there was nothing really pressing for me to reply to. Stepping outside, we noticed how the skies had suddenly turned completely black and the wind was picking up.

We must have stopped at five restaurants or more before finding one that wasn’t about to close as the market was doing so as well. There wasn’t anything in the menu that I liked and just told Elvira I’d have bread and cheese, fruit and cake when I returned to my room.

She ordered a new kind of soup, something sounding like “mompar” that had several kinds of beans and a fried egg on top, and allowed me to try it. It wasn’t bad, so I decided to order one for me too while the rain started falling on the restaurant’s roof.

We ran to catch the marshrutka and made it back to the guesthouse only slightly wet.

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