Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May 8, 2013

I must have slept pretty poorly for I woke up with a throbbing headache. Fortunately, coffee was at hand to remedy the situation and I went across the hallway to iron out the wrinkles from my outfit while the coffee percolated. It was another splendid morning after the thunderstorm of the previous night.

I checked my email and found no reply from Natalia to my inquiry regarding the dilemma at Batken. I was hungry enough to have some of the hard dry flat bread, cheese and salami before Elvira knocked on my door to head downstairs and into the car waiting for us.

I needed to get my materials together, so Elvira went first to talk about techniques for teaching vocabulary and then I went on to teach strategies for listening comprehension in the classroom. I sent Jennifer an email asking for advice regarding Natalia’s demand that I return to Bishkek tomorrow. I hoped she’d able to read it, and respond, by the end of the day.

Lunch was again at the university’s canteen where we had plov, salad and tea, no sugar available this time. Elvira went first teaching reading while I got started on my paper for the American Studies Association which is due on the 10th and for which I had zero sources to quote except for the materials on my PowerPoint presentation from last year.

I managed to write a few paragraph summarizing the achievements of Hispanic/Latino figures in the areas of art, film, sport and even cuisine before stopping for my own presentation on speaking activities. Given the low level of the teachers in this area, the tasks I had successfully conducted in other areas seemed extremely challenging to them.

Jygyz’ car was out of commission, he’d had a friend pick us up in the morning, and thus we had to walk back to the guesthouse as no marshrutkas run to the university in itself, something I found hard to believe in such a small city. One of the male teachers, Rustam, accompanied us and carried my laptop as I struggled with the canvas bag full of teaching materials.

When I logged on to email account, I found a message from Natalia indicating she’d been able to recruit Willoughby and another embassy employee to take my place during the TEA interviews on Friday. I was relieved to know there would be no rush flight back to Bishkek and let Elvira know that immediately.

We retraced our steps from the afternoon walk and nosed around the small bazaar with quite few stalls still open at six. We made the round of several “restaurants” only to find the meager offerings, manti, samsi, and shish kebabs not to my liking. The power had gone out during a severe windstorm and several generators were crowding the sidewalks wheezing their way into my ears. They reminded me of my visits to the Dominican Republic many years ago when there seemed to be one outside every building.

We finally found one place to eat where the affable owner told us she had fish, mashed potatoes and carrot salad to offer me. The flat bread was as hard as rock and there was no sugar on the table for the tea, so I passed on on it. The meal was quite delicious and I left happy or once. We both admitted to be plain exhausted at this point of our journey and how much we wished be back in Bishkek in our familiar surroundings.

We stopped at a convenience store so I could buy some sugar cubes and not bother the guesthouse’s owner or his uppity, ill-mannered wife who doesn’t even bother to greet or acknowledge us. I also got some bottled water for the food continues to be way too salty for me anywhere we go and I need to drink lots of water, which is good for me who normally doesn’t care for this drink.

The Wi-Fi was practically non-existent when we returned to the guesthouse and reading out of the question as I don’t have a reading light by bed and the overhead lighting is inadequate, so I went to bed early somewhat relieved that we only had more days to go.

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