"Put your mind to it go for it...get down and break a sweat!"
We woke up on Day 3 in our gross antsy yurt in the Kelemche Jailoo, after a night banging into the anchor swinging over my mattress pad. After a plate of kasha for breakfast (dudes I really love kasha!), I had to say goodbye to my little floofer ball o' bear workshop, pictured above. This pupster was such a bad little baby but so flinging flanging adorable! It was hard to leave, but we had a long trek in front of us. 18 kilometers, actually, to our next sleeping destination of Kyzart village. For another day, we would follow Melis as he rode his horse and we walked like chumps behind him in the heat and up the endless hills. Still better than riding a horse though.
We had a lovely lunch with the hosts at their dining room table, set up in the traditional plentiful manner we've grown to love (so much melon!), and relaxed in indoor glory. I ate so much watermelon. And then we realized that no one was going to get up from the table until we did, which was super awks, and we didn't feel comfortable taking such responsibility in someone else's house, so finally after a long time of sitting in silence playing with our forks, I finally asked if we were allowed to shower. Z said, "I think they would prefer it." We smelt. So we got to shower! This was the longest I'd ever gone without washing my hair ewwww. But it's clean now! After we got clean, we just laid around on our single beds (we had three in our room!). My hip was stupid frozen from walking on it when it hurt so I literally couldn't get up from the bed all afternoon. I tried to find a reading position that didn't make it throb but I failed. But at least I won't freeze tonight!
Before dinner, we took a short walk around the village, finding a nice little mosque (above) and lotssss of children who chased us while screaming "HELLO! HELLO!" I know it sounds adorable but after three months of children AND adults shouting HELLO at you it gets beyond annoying.
Dinner was a nice veg stirfry mixture kind of thing and - you guessed it - a GIANT plate of cucumber and tomato salad. I had a lot of bread too because, like the watermelon in this region, the bread was RG too. Also we hiked like 30 kilometers in 27 hours and my hip was wrecked AF! I get to eat all the bread!
I had the best night's sleep in a week.
"Things are looking up...in DULOC!"
After such good warm sleep, I had a plate of melon for breakfast - the fruits of my labors from the previous evening, when Sacha and the family asked me what I would want for breakfast and I said 'just fruit please' and they spent 10 minutes trying to convince me to have a plate of shredded potato instead and I was like please just fruit is fine I'll grab an apple from the basket and they were like 'but potato though'. I guess no one has just fruit for breakfast in these parts.
At about 9:30am we left for Kochkor village, for a quick stop to get water and whatever groceries we needed and then for the main morning event - a traditional carpet factory.
So, a traditional Kyrgyz (or any, really) carpet factory meant that they use wool and felt. Despite knowing for several days that this traditional cultural art tour was on the agenda, I didn't even think about the wool aspect before we arrived and they explained it all to us, which I guess was pretty stupid. But despite a decade of veganism, I guess I spent all my worry and attention on making sure the food would be taken care of rather than ensuring that the activities would be vegan. Getting out of horse-riding was enough, I assumed! Once I realized oh this is all wool, it was way too late to say anything. And I'm not sure I would have said anything anyway - this was our one hands-on cultural art exposure in the whole country, and my opposition to their use of wool would literally have accomplished nothing besides cutting our activities and limiting our learning about the culture.
That's right - they made us do art. The lady instructing us on how to make the main type of carpet showed us every step of the process and then made us create the design and then physically make the carpet. It was embarrassing! Neither of us are artistic, and when put on the spot we are almost anti-artistic. Also, it's a very physical process that I imagine takes a lot of practice to get the hang of, so our first attempts at dancing and stomping on the rolled up bamboo holder to squeeze the water out was, well, not graceful.
First, you take metal rods and beat the tufts of felt so they are soft, I guess, as in the picture above. Then, you arrange your design on a bamboo frame, pictured below with the lady laying out the base brown square.
After we were hailed and celebrated as Kyrgyzstan's most acclaimed artistes, they feted us with a lovely lunch in the yurt-for-show in the backyard. We had so much nice food and guess what the main event (for me) was? LENTIL SOUP! What a happy day!
Anyway, here are some pretty pictures of the parts that didn't make us lose even more faith in humanity.
Like I said before, Issyk-Kul is the second largest saline lake in the world. Sacha told us some facts about it, and said that "the lake is a little salty" because 260 rivers flow into it and none flow out of it. And then he said it's also salty because of all the tourists. And we laughed and he kept going, saying "and tourists and no toilets!" and we laughed and then he said to himself (but I heard!) in his thick Russian accent "this is a joke" and I almost threw up trying not to throw up laughing at this without him knowing I heard.