Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Zhabagly, Kazakhstan - 5th August

I haven't done nearly as much language learning as I'd have liked. I added to my Chinese, or at least brought it back to something approaching how I had once been able to speak. But the nature of traveling with Dragoman means that I spend most of my time hanging out with and talking to Gringos. I have learned more Spanish and German than I have Kyrgyz or Kazakh.

Each time we have crossed a land border I have felt a shock as going over a line in the dirt (more or less) changed everything. There has been little change to the houses and food and language in crossing the border from Kyrgyzstan into Kazakhstan. According to our guide it is a legacy of the Soviet rule where ethnic groups were moved around the region and Russians were summarily moved in to try and mix things up and create One Russia. On the basis of one afternoon's judgement, the main difference between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan is that I don't like Kazakhstan and it is much hotter here.

The public buildings in both places are unarguably communist and 'foreign' to my eye, but the homes remind me of the older parts of Port Fairy. I thought it was because they are all one story and made of stone. Then I realised that the windows are similar. Kept small for cost of heating and with small panes for cost of glass. Also, most places have fruit trees in the back.

And then it hit me. Every home in every town looks roughly the same age, and not so old at that. In Port Fairy I assume it was because the were all built during its boom as a port and whaling town. In these towns I suspect it is because the people here were mostly nomadic until encouraged to give up that lifestyle and settle in the one spot.

We are on the truck and sunset turned the world misty peach and mauve.

Because of the ridiculous amount of time they held us at the Kazakh border we are late getting to the homestay that is tonight's accommodation. I find it impossibly romantic, driving through the dark with Asima's lights flickering a little, passing houses all lit up with people at home doing night time things.

The moon is growing fuller and because we have had so many bush camp nights I can now orient myself by the setting moon and the blaze of stars. I have tended to face the same direction while brushing my teeth to watch my favourite ones. Praying always in the same direction all the time is starting to make more sense to me.


Bec said...

I so expected "And then it hit me." to be followed by "Port Fairy is a communist town.". :)

Ceels said...

You know what....