Friday, June 18, 2010

The Kyrgyzstan I know

I've been posting photos of our trip last summer on my Facebook page, but a friend remarked that I really should share a different view of Kyrgyzstan than has been in the headlines. As she says:
"we so rarely get a chance to see the other side of places where there is conflict because no one cares about these places until then. Show the world what is worth preserving here."

So I will post my photos and comments here as well, in hopes that readers will see and understand.

Abdulla and Camilla, the lovely and gracious couple we stayed with in Osh, Kyrgyzstan are alive. Here is a photo from last summer, in happier times. They are sitting on the far right. According to their daughter, they are alive, but running out of food. I am so worried about them.

They housed 10 of us while we were in Osh to attend Nurjan and Chad's wedding.  I learned very early on, that when Camilla offered me 'chai' (tea), it didn't mean she would sit and have a cup of tea with me.  No.  It meant she would serve out a breakfast spread for me.  And refuse my offers to help. 

I want to share the beauty that is Kyrgyzstan and her people with you. I will be posting photos from our trip last year. This woman is a member of the Altyn Kol collective, an organization dedicated to keeping traditional handicrafts alive.

The women showed us how felt was made, and even had our two boys 'stomp' on the wool bundles.  They got tired after a few minutes.  I think they said that it took more than a half hour to get the fibers sufficiently matted into felt.  We bought several floor coverings--shyrdyks--that adorn our home in Kyrgyz beauty.




Another photo from last summer in Kyrgyzstan. This one from the top of Mount Sulaiman, in Osh. These Uzbek women were fascinated by my sons. We didn't speak one another's languages, but it didn't matter. There were smiles and laughter that day.

For the entire 3 1/2 weeks we spent in Krygyzstan, we never saw any hint of conflict between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek peoples. And wherever we went, we experienced only hospitality, offers of friendship, and much laughter.

School children in Southern Kyrgyzstan. I worry for them, for their safety, and for their future. This conflict is not of their making, yet it will mark their young lives.



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