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)

Sunday, August 19, 2007


It is now nearly August and the fruits and vegetables of Shu are in full bloom. The kitchen garden at my house has already born its crops of cucumbers and strawberries, will soon be giving us bunches of grapes, and is currently serving us one of Shu’s prized products, tomatoes.
The tomatoes here at my house are coming off the vine in the dozens. I’d estimate that close to half of our garden is dedicated to tomato plants so this means we start to eat tomato salads. Often. But these tomatoes are delicious. I’ve been told that the soil in Shu, drier due to Shu’s location on the middle of the steppe, is key to producing these ripe red fruits. And it’s not just the people in Shu tooting their own horns about their gardens. Before I even moved to Shu last November one of the first things people in the Almaty area would reply when I said I would be living in Shu was, “They have great tomatoes.”
This dry climate does sometimes have its drawbacks however. For me, one of the biggest drawbacks is the heat. We feel the brunt of the “extreme continental” weather system with temperatures consistently up in the mid 90s for days on end. During this heat just standing out in the road talking to a neighbor is cause for a bath in your own sweat. I’ve since switched to showering at night.
The heat, thankfully a dry one, also takes its toll on the ground making the air around any unpaved road a fog of dust any time a car drives by. I’m pretty sure the heat also put an end to our cucumber plants as when I returned from America I was surprised to see the once wide green leaves had turned khaki and wilted.
So in the heat and amidst the ripe fruits and vegetables summer progresses here in Shu. I’ve been keeping cool reading in the shade, meeting with one my English clubs in the evenings, and working at summer camps for schoolchildren. One month to go and it will be the start of another school year.
I hope are enjoying your summers and I wish you the best from Shu.



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