June 18, 2013
Yesterday morning the weather was cool – highs in the 60s – but the skies were clear and sunny. By noon clouds had blown in and rain had started to fall. By mid-afternoon the valley had turned into a wind-tunnel, with wind and rain howling past my window. By about 6pm, the rain had begun turning into sleet and snow flurries. By 8pm we were in a full-on, mid-winter type blizzard. A freakin’ blizzard. In June. And me with all of my summer clothes. Around 9pm, the power went out. After eating dinner by candlelight, I retreated under my covers with my kindle. The power remained off until about noon the following day.
Apparently this is the only time that anyone in the village can recall a snow storm in June. A few years ago they had a snow storm in May, but never in June. Just my luck. I experienced the coldest winter in Russia in decades back in 2006, the coldest winter in Kyrgyzstan in decades in 2008, and now the coldest summer in memory in the Issyk-Kul region. For a native Floridian, this is a rather horrible string of bad luck with weather.
When I awoke in the morning, it was still quite frigid and the sky was an ominous grey – although the snow had stopped falling and the previous evening’s snow was in the process of melting away. I dressed in as many layers as I could gather. (I’d come prepared for summer, not for snow!) Then it was time to meet with Adilet and Aizhan, who had been sent out to Toguz Bulak from The London School to take photos of me, my host family, and my students for some sort of project. I was never really clear on what kind of project this was, but apparently the pictures absolutely had to be taken today. (For those of you wondering why I had to go to Bishkek on Friday to pick up my passport if people from The London School were going to make a surprise trip to Toguz-Bulak on the following Tuesday… well, this is Kyrgyzstan. Who knows?) Normally I would have been dressed professionally in order to teach – and especially for some kind of photo-shoot. I might have even considered make up… but it was really incredibly cold, and the only thing I was considering was warmth. I definitely looked a bit rough.
Adilet took photos of me and my host family at breakfast, and then we set off for the school… which was locked. My students were waiting by the locked front door, but no one else was around. Luckily, one of my students in Group 1 is the daughter of the school’s director, so I sent her off on a quest to locate the key. (Pretty much everyone here, including most of the students, has a cell phone, but as the power was out to the cell towers, no one had a cell signal, and they had to go in search of the key on foot.) Finally, after waiting on the frigid front step for a good half hour, they key arrived and we were able to go inside. Of course, being inside wasn’t much of an improvement, as the school was chilly on the best of days, and didn’t have any heat. Sigh.
Adilet took quite a few photos and videos of me teaching Group 1, and then returned to Bishkek. Some of the photos have since appeared on Facebook, but I’m not sure what’s going to be done with the rest.