Sunday, August 12, 2012


6:54 AM
(8:54 PM EST, 8-10-12)

Right at midnight in a Salsa dance club in Bishkek, the DJ played Happy Birthday “ezpecially for Ztacey” and everybody stopped dancing to sing along in somewhat-English. I’m not joking. I never imagined that would be how I would welcome my 19th birthday, but hopefully it means that the next year will be as pleasantly insane as it began!

Yesterday (before midnight) was a busy day of planning for the camp and dealing with grant-related business. Apparently Kyrgyzstan has a comlicated tax system... On a brighter note,Aidai and I met two new volunteers for the first time, Eva from China and Shoko from Japan,  and we are very excited to get the program started… as long as we can finish all of our planning on time!

While out in Bishkek, I ate “Kyrgyz fast food”, which was from a cute stall that served beef or chicken hamburgers and french fries. Next door to the burger place was a KFC -- KYRGYSTAN FLAVORED CHICKEN, that is. Is anybody else as thrilled about that as I am? I thought it was brilliant.

We went to the supermarket to check prices for some supplies we would need for the camp, and we found yet another piece of magic. In the middle of an aisle on display was a pyrmid of 1.5L Coca-Cola bottles. What was great about it was that every pair of bottles was taped together, and the little bundle included a glass Coca-Cola logo plate. At first I thought it might be a strange security measure (“Don’t touch this Coca-Cola display or else you’ll be embarrassed by shattering a glass plate”), but we realized that it was an unmarked value pack. I fell for their genius marketing strategy & I have no regrets about paying less than $2 for it.

While looking at a deli-display case of dried fruits and nuts, a guy overheard Aidai & I speaking English and asked me where I was from. Long story short, the guy grew up in Atlanta and attended the University of Tennessee Knoxville (which is 20 minutes away from my home)! We helped him find peanut butter (“so American”) and were in disbelief of how tiny the world is.

Out team has a long list of to-do’s to accomplish before we leave to Ananievo Village on Monday. Wish us luck!