We were at the food court in a small mall near here. There was a coffee shop. I asked a veteran international teacher if the coffee was any good as I was thinking about trying it. I had heard that it was difficult to get a good cup of coffee here. He said, “No, it’s awful; but go have a cup. I can’t tell you about the coffee. You have to find out for yourself.” And he absolutely insisted that I go get a cup of bad coffee. Really bad coffee. It was the best advice I had been giving in ages.
I thought about some of the things that I post on my blog, post on Facebook, or send in emails about my experiences here. There are things that I don’t mention because I know that it would make people worry about my well-being while I am gone. I don’t mention them because how do you explain it to someone else who hadn’t lived through it. I don’t mention it because had I known some of these things, I might not have come here. But I had to find out for myself. No one could have told me. What could I tolerate? Would the lack of 3000 count Egyptian cotton sheets be my breaking point? Would the constant fluidity of the scheduling at school be my proverbial straw? No one could tell me that. There are things I don’t mention because I just can’t tell you about them. You have to find out for yourself.
And then I thought about the horsemeat. I had viewed a promotional video for the international teachers program and one of the US teachers talked about eating horsemeat. She said it wasn’t bad. I tried the horse meat. It wasn’t too bad. I am not having it every night for dinner, but I am glad that I tried it. Now I know. Other people could describe eating horse meat to me. But that is no replacement for the actual experience. Had someone in the video mentioned that it was awful or given even a hint of what the taste was, I would have not tried it. I would have missed the experience. I would have missed taking part in a cultural cornerstone. I would have missed making a connection with this community and country. I can’t describe that for you. You have to have the experience to understand it.
Which lead me to thinking about the opinions we offer to one another, the reviews we post on line, the comments we make. How many things have missed in life because I didn’t find out about them myself?
What is my opinion really worth? Can I really tell you what your first kiss will be like? If I tell you that it will likely be awkward, could be embarrassing, would that stop you? Do you really want me to tell you about your first kiss, or would you rather have that first kiss?
I didn’t get that cup of coffee, sadly. The coffee shop was closing and they only had a few baked goods left. And they don’t actually have anything on the menu that I would usually order. But I will stop back and find something on the menu that I would like to try, even if it isn’t supposed to be that good.
There are lots of things here that I have tried that I wouldn’t have tried had I not been on this journey. With any luck, I will be trying more of those experiences in future, whether I am in Kazakhstan or somewhere else. So, perhaps instead of overanalyzing a new adventure, maybe you should just eat the horsemeat and find out how it is for yourself.