Below is a post that I worked on this week, but I am just now getting to publish it. Life is busy here. I haven’t gotten to write about the visit to the art studio, our Friday night dinner snafu (we got to eat, but confusion and chaos arrived it the mist of our plans. Hilarity ensured), or the bitter cold. So many things to tell and so little time to write.
I am loving this experience. There are so many challenges. I really want to share so much with those following my journey. But, like life back in the States, you have to live it and do what you have to do when you have to do it. Sometimes I don’t get to write everything I want. And, sometimes, if you haven’t experienced it, you probably wouldn’t understand it. Therefore, it is difficult to write about it. So, I write what I can when I can. Hope you enjoy the delayed post below! Thanks to everyone who is traveling with me in one way or another.
From last week:
It has been another exciting week in Pavlodar. We still have several teachers at conferences and some special projects in process, so the international teachers were covering classes while local teachers were away. On one hand, it is nice to have complete control of my classroom as I had for years in the US. On the other hand, it was exhausting and I miss my coteachers. They are wonderful and I miss their company and expertise. I think they may be back tomorrow and things may get back to somewhat normal for a few weeks.
Yesterday was a particular interesting and eventful day. I posted some pictures already of the swim club. My internet was out so I only got to post briefly from a café with wifi and didn’t get to give many comments. Got up fairly early, about 6 AM, to meet the swim club. Took a bus just about 4 or 5 stop away to the Chekhov Theater to meet the member who was hosting our visit. It was a beautiful snow covered morning. Not too cold, but I was bundled up well. I had not explored the area around the theater before now. It is a historic district. The few pre-Soviet buildings in this area are mostly located here. The historical museum is there as well. We walked a few blocks from the bus stop to what used to be a KGB prison. Now, the club members use a small section of the building as changing rooms and workout areas. The rest of the building is a children’s sports center. There are Olympic rings crudely painted in white on the back of the building. Lori, another international teacher from Iowa, went with me. There was much excitement that the English speakers were coming and especially that there might be Americans in the group. Regardless of age or body type, people moved excitedly and gracefully through the cramped area preparing for the frigid swim. The energy was contagious. Men and women from their 20’s to their 80’s. I felt totally in the way and awkward, but no one seemed to mind. Everyone got ready and we walked through the snow and down the icy steps to the river. Some cheered as we walked. No one was wrapped up or in any type of cover up. They wore swim trunks, bikinis, one-piece swimsuits with tennis shoes and winter hats. When we arrived at the riverbank, the group goofed around, teased one another, did a few last minute warm up exercises, and posed for pictures. Then walked right into the 34-degree river and swam, for a few minutes or for several minutes or however long seemed good enough. No one ran out of the water and sprinted for the warmth of the building a few hundred miles away. They got out, dried off, goofed around some more, and sauntered back to the building, chatting and sharing the joys of good health. They invited us to come again. They asked many questions. Some our host answered on our behalf; some he translated to us. It was an interesting start to another fabulous day in Pavlodar.
On the way back to the bus stop, we stopped at a café for breakfast. Our host came along to translate for us, as we did not know if the restaurant would have an English menu or one with pictures. (No, we cannot learn the language fast enough!) They had an “American breakfast” with fried eggs and toast and there was fresh squeezed orange juice. And, pictures on the menu! New place to eat! Score!
I was only able to bring a limited number of clothes and most of those were dress clothes for school, not many “play” clothes. And after 3 months, they are about worn out. Also, the weather is rapidly changing. I needed new clothes. There is almost no one in this country who is larger than what would be about a size 6 in the US, so buying clothes has been a challenge. And quite frankly, the clothes here are a bit loud and blingy for most American style preferences. With the assistance of my landlord’s college age daughter, we finally found some fairly good places to buy reasonable clothes for me that I can wear for work and for fun. We had a nice girls’ day out with a lovely lunch after shopping. We ate at Krendle’s which is considered one of the best restaurants in town and which has the best bakery in town. There we meet another US citizen who is living here. He is a musician. We exchanged numbers and hope to have him join us for dinner with the international team. He is from Ohion which is a bordering state to my home state. So excited to find other Americans hanging out in Kazakhstan.
The day ended with a visit to a local artist with a tour of her workshop. I will have to write about that another time. There is so much to tell! It was a magical end to a really fun day!
Peace and love to you all!