Kazakhstan to a Nittany Lion

My thoughts and perspective on Kazakhstani culture. (These are my thoughts and opinions alone and do not reflect the policies or opinions of the Peace Corps or the United States Government)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Spring in Full Swing

Spring is certainly a beautiful season here in Shu. There are green leaves on the trees and grape vines, flowers are blooming, and there are many high-pitched spring lambs bleating out on the steppe. I must have picked one of the peak days to take a ride across the steppe down to the town of Merke to visit some other Volunteers the other day because the steppe was bursting with red poppies. Lining the road and at times stretching to the top of a hill and over the horizon were thousands of bright red poppies.

Merke is a medium-sized collection of villages totaling about 100,000 people located an hour’s drive south from Shu across the steppe on the same road you would take to Taraz. It is located at the foot of the mountains and is known for its clean air, nature, and its dairy plant. It also has well-developed downtown with a large main street with a large bazaar and a number of cafes. The one my friends and I ate at served some delicious shashleek and samsa from the tandoori. It was a great trip.

Yesterday was May 1st and that meant it was time for another holiday. This was Prazdneek Edeenstva Naroda Kazakhstana or “Holiday of the Unity of the People of Kazakhstan.” A number of teachers, the director of my school, some students and I represented our school at the parade held on the square in Tole Bee, the rayon center just down the road from Shu. All of the organizations of Shu, schools, the railroad, colleges, and others, sent people to hold banners and signs to represent their organization in the parade. We had great weather, clear skies and temperatures in the low 80s, which provided a great backdrop for the groups marching through the colorfully decorated main square in front of a few hundred people and the reviewing committee. After the parade my colleagues and I went to a café for lunch to celebrate.

Great weather, spending time outside with friends, and frequent ice cream purchases would be a way to quickly sum up spring here in Shu. Three more weeks of classes then school is over for the year. So within all that I’m still busy with work, making summer plans and shaping long-term plans for some of my other work here in Shu. That’s all for now.



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