Let me just explain my adventure to the playground by my house a few months ago. This happened in the village I was living at before my recent move.
[I live right near a school and there is a very soviet style playground behind it. For the sake of the story, let’s just call it what it really looks like – a prison yard. The reason I am here is because the 5 year old has a ton of energy and loves to run on “the yard.” We make our way about a hundred yards. We finally arrive and the first thing I notice is that there are about 25 guys – no kids and no other women. Their ages range anywhere from 8 – 21 with most of them falling into the “high school” range. So this is already sort of a worrisome because the second they find out that I am an American and speak English, they will predictably see that as an opportunity to practice their English – which consists of yelling the f-word or asking my name no less than 452 times. Of course, the 5 year old wants to swing; that is the exact location where most of the guys were congregating. In my village loitering is a hobby. As we get to the swing I then notice that one of the younger boys has a tazer. This threat goes unnoticed by the five year old and I just go with it an hope to little baby Jesus that we don’t get tazed (another time when I went to the playground the same incident happened with a knife). So they seemed to be “playfully” pretending to hurt each other so I just pretended not to notice. After swinging for a while we moved to the slide. In “the yard” there are several types of bars and monkey bar things that one can practice doing pull ups and other types of upper body stretches on. This scene, plus the weapons, makes my prison yard reference accurate. In addition to all of this, it is important to note that there are thousands of pieces of broken glass – everywhere. Not only packed in the dirt of the playground but every road and outdoor path that I walk on. I hear a constant crunch of shards of glass under each step, and this village is heavy on farming. Everyone has a garden and animals of some sort. I have learned that some people just let their cows, ducks, sheep, chickens, cats, dogs, and whatever else was on Noah’s ark run wild during the day to graze. So next to / inside “the yard” there are also 4 huge cows. Anyway, back to the slide. So she wants to slide and I feel like everything she is touching could give us both hepatitis but I turn another blind eye to that. At the top of the slide, which is like 5 feet tall, she becomes very afraid. Then the boys begin to take notice. The next thing I knew my cover was blown. I spoke to her in English and then the “f” word and “whatizyourname” from all directions. Anywho, then they thought I didn’t understand her and of course I did, but they go up in my business to try and explain. After forever, she almost begins to cry at which point I go to push her back up the slide but she slips. Then she slides to the bottom and loves it. Like I said she would. Then she did it four hundred more times. After all of the red flags, testosterone, and 55 mosquito bites later – we went home. ]
Kazakhstan Fun Fact:
Students graduate high school in the 11th grade and American students graduate in the 12th grade.
Peace Corps Blog.
click above to play a traditional Kazakh song that I really like called the Karajorga. It is very popular and there is a traditional dance that is performed with it as well.
March 8, 2011 -
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