Hey! I really appreciate the emails some of you've sent me. It's always fun to hear from you.
When I do anything on the internet, I'm at the Peace Corps Pre-Service Training site in Ecik (Yssik). This is usually a 10-minute bus ride from my host family's house in Sovet, but today the ride took 20. We stopped for a number of people walking along the street, while for others we accelerated, careening dangerously close to donkeys and small children. Augh.
I'm quite busy, though. On Mondays, I have Kazakh language classes from 9 - 1pm, then my group teaches computer classes, then we have Kazakh again from 4:30 - 6:30. On Tuesday, we come to the hub site for lessons in teaching techniques and medical sessions (today: parasites) until about 6. Wednesdays, we have Kazakh and Russian and are done at 5; Thursday, we're at the hubsites; Fridays and Saturdays are language days. On Sundays, we try desperately to catch up on the homework and vocabulary we've not been able to do yet. I'm learning on average one or two major grammatical concepts and 40 words a day. It's mostly sifting right through the holes in my poor little brain. But I had a request for information on the bathrooms, so I think I'll get on to that.
There are bath rooms, and there are showers, and there are toilets, and these are in very different places. Bath rooms (banas)are tiled rooms that function as saunas when the family really wants to get clean. I use mine like a utility room, to wash my feet off when they're really dirty, and to bathe. For me, bathing involves dumping water on myself from a tin cup. My family has no running water until construction (mysterious, invisible construction) on the school is completed. Showers often look like outhouses. They're top-loaded with water, so the best time to shower is in the evening, when the sun has warmed it a bit. Otherwise . . . imagine having to pull the string that dumps a certain amount of very cold water on you as you stand naked in a phone booth. That's kind of the experience. But one we PCT's are thankful for. As for the outhouses/toilets, they're no big deal, especially for the men. There are a few tricks and things to consider. Sometimes, the hole is very small. Sometimes the hole is so close to a wall that one has to consider very carefully how to stand. Sometimes there is no toilet paper. As I discovered yesterday, sometimes an outhouse is at the bottom of a rerouted stream. But really, it's okay. My outhouse has very large gaps in its slats, and I realized one night that anyone who cared to could see a striped silhouette of me, wearing my flashlight around my neck. Now I turn the flashlight off.