I have not posted anything on here for a year now, and I have thus decided that the blog text on here ought to be read chronologically, from beginning to end, and have reordered the posts accordingly. If you click this link, you’ll be transported back to January 4th 2013 and begin my journey where? 

At the beginning. 

Love.

Epoch.

I’ve been in the United States of America for almost two days now. Several things have stood out for me: I’ve noticed how highways remove the focus from the scenery, leaving a stimulus-free environment through which one simply transports oneself; I’ve noticed that it’s really hard to not spend money here, and responded to that realization by spending twenty bucks on a Real Estate LP; last, I’ve noticed how nice it feels to be in the company of the people and places you love and love you.

I spent yesterday, my first real day at home, first by driving around and refamiliarizing myself with all of my favorite backroads and secluded spots, and next by visiting a friend at the University of Delaware. While there, walking down Main St. in Newark, I was stopped three times by people that I knew. Oddly, all of them were folks whom I hadn’t seen in years. This, in conjunction with the vague indefiniteness of my semester in Kyrgyzstan, has led me to meditate on time. 

When I was living in Bishkek (a clause that accurately places Bishkek far behind me), I was inhabiting a period of my life that had dates for its terminus and start, but five months felt a little bit like being swaddled in a blanket without clear beginning and ending, with no obvious way to get out. This feeling caused the time to inundate me, and the key soon became to surrender to it. The early part of my time in Bishkek was hard because I was constantly referring back to the time that was - or wasn’t - passing. I was anticipating the end too soon, and the time inflated to unmanageable proportions. But, as the semester wore on, I began to let it go and tumble through the allotted time with no firm grasp on it. As such, in addition to feeling better about being there, the forgetting actually made the time go faster. 

Having landed safely and comfortably at home - more accurately in my bed - I cannot begin to lament the end of my time in Bishkek. It passed at times slowly, at times quickly, and it’s now over. There will be a time when I will want to go back, when I will probably regret not fully submerging myself from the beginning, but now I can only be glad to be home. 

I could continue to serve you anecdotes day in and day out, but I think I’ll start accumulating them for myself again. The real work is ahead of me, and it’s somewhere only I can travel.

"Rejoice in your growth, in which you naturally can take no one with you."

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Until the next adventure,

Kieran McLees Reichert

Tags: chrono

Inconclusive Rambling

I’m sitting here on the balcony at 2:30 A.M. local time, waiting for something to happen. Something to signify my imminent departure, something ignite inside of me, some grand realization. So far, no luck. If I was here for two weeks or so, I think that feeling would arrive, eagerly announcing the brevity of my stay and the future yearning I would feel for this tiny Soviet-era balcony in this tiny Soviet-era city. Instead, I just feel the increased heft I’ve picked up that, now having grown accustomed to it, doesn’t feel like anything at all.

I don’t have anything profound to say really, no great remarks on saying goodbye to a home - just that I am leaving in three days. Well, now two. On Monday morning around this time, I will board a plane and leave Kyrgyzstan once, and indeed maybe for all. Saying goodbye to all the people that have made my stay here what it has been has been somewhat anticlimactic. I don’t know how to express the deep movements that have occurred inside of me, many of which were caused by little more than living outside of my known world. And I don’t think they’re really looking for anything like that either. No, we just shake hands, make some last quasi-meaningful eye contact, and turn around. I think about turning and orientation a lot in connection to this time in my life. It’s like being twenty has you stranded on one stone, constantly turning and facing another potential inhabitable stone a few feet away. Though I typically enjoy carrying metaphors as far as possible, I think I’ll let that one rest. This has been a long and primarily introspective journey, one that has allowed me to see myself more clearly. But nobody here wants to hear about that.

"Will you come back to Kyrgyzstan?" they ask, and all I can say is a lame "Yeah, I hope to. I’ve had a great time here."

These meaningless exchanges are the currency of goodbyes for me here, and I don’t like that too much. But there is weight behind my words - I have a real desire to catch all of these people I’ve met in a different stage of their lives. I would like to meet Timur ten years closer to baldness, when he’s realizing his goal of working in a national security organization. Or Bernd, my film professor, ten more years into building a life outside of his native Austria - though in all likelihood he will not be in Bishkek a decade from now. Farrukh, certainly married by then, as a Tajik diplomat working in an embassy somewhere. And of Madi, now twenty-three, who in ten years might have mustered the explosive willpower to defect to the Buddhist monastery in the mountains.

The good news is that the modest network of friendship I’ve built here won’t go anywhere, except maybe with the odd traveler visiting me in the USA. I’ll most likely see Nazgul during her summer in Boston, and maybe Chinghiz on his work/travel trip to Virginia. Dina will be moving back stateside in a year or two, and other assorted acquaintances will undoubtedly pop up in my life from time to time. Though I can’t wrap my mind around the impending terminus of Kieran in Kyrgyzstan, I can feel the shapeless expectation of meeting some of these people at a different time in my life. Maybe I’ll be a writer by then, having somehow pressed this bizarre and wonderful life into something that shows some of the truth and joy that I’ve experienced here, there, and everywhere. I don’t think the metaphor about being twenty years old communicated all of the ambiguity I feel.

Though this epoch of middle-class American life in which I live, filled as it is with directionless wandering, can only be achieved from the position of wealth and privileged whence I came, I do believe some good comes from it. If only the kind of goodness that is most important to me: creating relationships.

In another form of creation - writing - things will likely change for me now. The blog, titled as it is, will surely seem inapplicable to my life at home, and therefore it will end. But, I hope, I will take the consistent energy that I put into it (as little as it seemed while writing about the other side of the world) and funnel it into a new direction. For some time now, I’ve been saying - at first quietly and only to myself, but lately with more certainty and to others - that I want to be a writer. This summer I will test my tendency toward self-imposed exile from a new inward angle. I have an array of quotes by writers whom I admire on my cluttered desktop, and John Steinbeck’s is particularly poignant.

"The craft or art of writing is the clumsy attempt to find symbols for the wordlessness. In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable. And sometimes if he is very fortunate and if the time is right, a very little of what he is trying to do trickles through —not ever much. And if he is a writer wise enough to know it can’t be done, then he is not a writer at all. A good writer always works at the impossible."

This summer, let me attend to the impossible - or, as I like to say, eff the ineffable.

Спасибо и спакойной ночи всем, везде.

Tags: chrono

So many more pictures, but I hope this gives a taste. 

Tags: chrono

Altitude, Part 2.

Apologies for the delay. I like to imagine you all waiting, biting nails in anxious anticipation of the next post, but I don’t think that’s how blogs work. Hopefully you’ll find this continuation in a quiet place with time to read.

So, we began our time on Iskanderkul with a hike away from the lake itself. It took us through a sort of ravine between two smallish hills and alongside a beautiful glacial river. The route was not so difficult, and Adeep led at a brisk pace. I was frequently distracted from the activity at hand by the truly glorious scenery around me. To my left was a sandy-colored scree slope, and to my right an glowing turquoise river. Ahead there was a sort of boulder patch, rocks the size of elephants and other big things that I don’t encounter so often rising out of the scant vegetation, and we descended to the base of them. The boulders were so inviting that I didn’t even need to ask Adeep if we could climb them. The next forty-five minutes or so was time enough to test my bouldering ability on several biggish rocks, and everyone else seemed to enjoy doing the same.

At long last, we continued the final dozen meters to the hike’s main attraction: a waterfall. Concealed by an overhanging boulder, the only way to see the fall’s full majesty was to walk out on a plank of sorts - a platform of runged metal that rested about 5 meters out over the drop off, counterbalanced by a cement block on its back half. This did not seem like the most stable arrangement, and I balked at first. I’m afraid of heights, and though I’m sure many of my friends could give you counter examples to that statement, I do believe there’s an element of truth in it besides the fear of death at its root. Anyway, I eventually gathered up the courage to tread lightly to the platform’s end and behold the waterfall. In the picture I have of this milestone, note my stiff stance and general discomfort. 

After that trek, we did a few smaller ones to a small lake, a little grove of forest, and out to the lake itself. On this last walk, we were all immediately attracted by the colorful variety of minerals on the stony beach, and proceeded to walk hunched and search for great stones for an hour or so. I guess we’re all amateur geologists at heart. I’ve got a number of incredibly intricate and vivid stones that I hope to craft into gifts when I get home. 

After the extended sojourn on the stony shore, during which Adeep waited patiently, he ushered us back to the van for the last leg of our journey to Saritag, a local mountain village cum tourist attraction. The reason for the appeal is based on rumor. According to guidebooks and the like, this village was where Alexander the Great came to rest, which consisted mainly of raping women. As such, the great Macedonian planted his seed in many Tajik beds, leaving the progeny red-haired and blue-eyed. Though the genetic logic of a Macedonian man and a Tajik woman yielding redheads with blue eyes seems somewhat faulty, the lake just down the road does bear his name (Iskander=Alexander). We were all abuzz with silly tourists’ excitement at seeing this redheads, but the road up to the village stamped out any positive feelings. It was the steepest yet, and the dirt seemed loose and especially unstable. The thirty minute drive was one of the worst sections yet, and thus the turn valley-ward was welcome. The valley was elevated higher than the lake, which was already higher than the river we’d left behind long ago. Saritag was the closest I’d gotten to a Shangri-La. 

The village itself was predictably agriculture-oriented, each house with its own yard filled with crop. We saw women hard at work in the fields, and as we neared the guesthouse, we saw the men huddled around a tiny project on its front stoop. We were greeted enthusiastically, and shown into the small house’s roomy interior. It was a house of three rooms: two spacious sleeping rooms with mats on the floor, and one dining room with an elevated platform to sit on and a table in the middle of it. They had tea prepared, and we sat around the table to enjoy it, and I took it all in. I immediate liked its lack of furniture, the sleeping rooms capacious enough to properly fill with sleep at night. Dinner was at 7, we were told, and so we set out for a pre-dinner hike.

The meal was delicious - homemade plov - and left me immobile on the elevated seat. Cognac made its rounds, and we settled into the most comfortable after dinner conversation I’d had in a long while. It tends to happen that our conversations as a whole group end up being Dina vs. The World, as she possesses an assertively conservative perspective that I find particularly difficult to let stand. So it goes. After dinner, it was coming upon ten o’clock, and so we settled into the now-cold sleeping rooms to watch a Russian miniseries called Дети Арбата - Children of the Arbat. It was a sort of historical drama that placed a group of people within Stalinist Moscow and shows us as they are torn apart by the Premier’s arbitrarily draconian state. The show was in Russian, obviously, and I had a good time following along with my own broken knowledge. 

Breakfast in the morning was omelets, coffee, and the best pear of my life, which gave me the fuel I needed to make it through the daunting ride to Dushanbe. The way back, as always, was calmer, but by no means relaxed. It did seem to go faster, and after a short while, we stopped in a mountain town along the way at a sanatorium. We bathed in hot mineral baths and soaked in boiling steam rooms and lunched. Again, the meal gave me the fortitude to make it the rest of the way. Once near Dushanbe, we skirted the city and traveled to Hisor, where we checked out an old madrassa and fort. After that, we made our way back to the hotel in preparation for dinner. 

I would tell you about the food, but everything we ordered seemed to be just like Kyrgyzstan - heavy on meat. One thing I will say is that all of the vegetables we got at meals were particularly fresh, and the pear that I ate in Saritag was a revelation. I will always choose pear over apple now, in hopes that I find another like that misshapen golden orb of crisp and juice. 

At night on Monday, we decided to walk around the very center of the city, where dictator Emomali Rahmon has lavished himself in elegant monuments and palaces - the presidential palace is bigger and more beautiful than our own White House - in an approximation of the Napoleon complex that ignores and increases his nation’s poverty and hunger. I’m glad to have seen them at night, when the figurative darkness literally swallows them up. 

What a trip. I couldn’t be happier to have made it. More pictures on their way.

Tags: chrono

Pictures from the first part of the journey, along the road to Iskanderkul.

Tags: chrono

Altitude, Part 1.

I thought of the name for this post a few days ago, high in the mountains of Tajikistan. Altitude is a measurement, first of all, but it’s also a feeling. I hope to talk about both the measurement and the feeling. 

On saturday, I woke up at 8:55 A.M. for a 9 A.M. ride to the airport. I threw three days’ worth of clothes, my camera, and assorted comforts into a backpack and hustled downstairs to meet Dina and our waiting taxi. Tension began to build in me as we neared Manas International Airport at speeds that seemed much higher than the speedometer informed me. Maybe it was the car, but more likely it was the swelling fear of flying that stiffened my legs and moistened my palms. I’ve flown countless times over the course of my life, at first excitedly when I was young, but the anxiety has been building over the past few years. I’m sure I could say more about my fear of flying - Pteromerhanophobia, according to Wikipedia - but I think I’ll hold off. The point is that my trip started off with me afraid and a few miles above the Earth. 

Upon landing in Dushanbe, we realized that our tourist visas to get into Tajikistan were valid beginning on the 29th of April, and it was the 28th. This, I was sure, would be a serious problem, and so when we were ushered into a side room in the airport by the uniformed customs officer, I was ready for the most severe consequences: immediate reboarding and another hour and a half in the air. As it turned out, the officer was jocular with Dina and the room he led us to was comfortable and contained in it only one young man, casually clad in a rain jacket and jeans. This was not the official repercussions I was expecting. The man joked with us for about fifteen minutes while he corrected - in pen on our visas - the error. This was to be a presage of our time in Tajikistan.

That day, in Dushanbe, we were chauffeured around by a duo employed by a local travel agency: Adeep and Murot. Murot was a seasoned driver, his sun stained skin and meaty hands belying the consummate skill he possessed (something that would be tested later on); Adeep, a young man in his mid- or late-twenties, was our tour guide. He led us around to a bazaar, an exchange kiosk where we traded our USD for Tajik somoni, and a museum of antiquities. In this museum, pottery and various artifacts depicted the complicated swirl of religions (Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and Islam) that led Tajikistan to its modern (unofficially) Muslim state. There was a giant prone Buddha housed on the top floor, much to our photographic pleasure. We left the antiquities behind, and walked through the rainy present that aptly revealed the fecund beauty of Dushanbe. Many of the buildings were colored in pastels and all were surrounded by large trees and overgrowing grass. We checked into our hotel, which again showed us a beautiful view of the mountains and rain clouds that adorned the Dushanbe skyline. I donned the bathrobe the hotel provided and sat on the balcony, absorbing all that my eyes could. Little did I know, at this point, how much more my eyes would be shown over the next forty-eight hours. 

After a generous meal of shashlik (kebab) of assorted meats, including lamb, beef (regular and rolled with fat), chicken, and kidney. I tried everything I was given, and decided the beef rolled with fat was my favorite. All this meat eating tired me out, and I slept well after a brief soirée in our room with everyone. In the morning, we set out for Iskanderkul, a glacial lake located some 150 km from Dushanbe - a drive that we were told would take four hours, due to the unending mountainous terrain. Four hours seemed like a simple jaunt to me after last summer’s ten-hour days on my way across the USA. 

Tajikistan has one main north-south highway, and as such it is very well maintained. On the first leg of the drive, we followed a river on its twisting route through small mountains. We picked up a bunch of rhubarb from one of the many sellers that dotted the roadside. The beauty of this lowland scenery lulled me into a state of carefree beholding. Then, the bigger, snow-capped mountains reared their jagged faces, and the river began to slink off to our left as we commenced our climb. The first stage of the mountain drive was little bit switchbacks and short tunnels that protect the road against rockslides and glaciers. Oh, and roads without guardrails that performed hairpin curves with irreverent frequency, all the while at breathtaking heights. After about a half an hour of steady ascent, Adeep turned around a let us know that the next feature of this as yet unsettling journey was a 5km tunnel. I quickly did the conversion I learned from the few road races I’d run, and figured a 3.1-mile tunnel wouldn’t be the worst thing. As we came upon the tunnel’s entrance, I reconsidered. 

The tunnel’s bore yawned open, revealing the blackness within: there were no lights in this tunnel. Beyond that, crossing the threshold brought the knowledge that the road was completely unpaved, and riddled with potholes filled with water. A few bouncy seconds into the tunnel, and the twinge in my gut began to crescendo with each dip and jostle into a clutch, and finally to a tug. It felt as though I were riding to the center of the Earth, and that I was among the first to do so on an untested road. Luckily, 5km is actually not a terribly long tunnel, and after twenty-five minutes we exited through the golden veil of exhaust into the sunlight. Whew. Or so I thought.

The road after the tunnel started off paved, and led us to a small town where we had lunch at a small café. Onward we pressed, now descending through terrain that called forth the images of Afghanistan that my mind created - a world of tan, dusty, and wrinkled mountains. This soon gave way to more grayish mountains, still dusty, and finally to the red clay that reminded me of Utah - another daring trip I took several years ago. By then, the roads had worsened steadily to the point where gravel and rocks were the only paving and the unevenness of the narrow road would often tilt our van, and me in the outside seat, at angles that seemed all to close to the verge of a many thousand-meter roll down the side of the mountain. All the while, though, we were subjected to views that are rivaled by nothing I’ve seen in the American West. The violence of the beauty made it sting, and it lit up the images in my memory with fear, thus impressing them deeper in my mind. The final descent - or so we thought - was down to Iskanderkul. We pulled over at a high curve that gave a unique and aerial perspective on the lake. It’s blue was not the same color as Issyk-Kul, but rather a blue-green that sung a song of mineral clarity. We descended the last little bit, and parked alongside the lake. It was time to hike.

I would love to continue tonight, but sleep is calling. More tomorrow, including waterfalls, bouldering, and an overnight in a nearby village. The first wave of pictures should be up by the time you read this.

Tags: chrono

Illumination

I’m sharply aware of the time past since I’ve waxed philosophical, and therefore I will subject you all to my most ideational and ethereal thoughts presently.

First, a concrete lead-in: I have just gotten off the phone with my mom, with whom I typically use to air out the parts of me that have long since gone stale and rank in my own mind. I would apologize for this, but I know that’s how we love each other and therefore something I cannot (and should not) apologize for. Now I need more background.

Yesterday was my dad’s sixtieth birthday party and towards the end - maybe to the surprise and discomfort of some of the guests - the event swerved away from typical birthday hullabaloo into meaning. He felt that turning sixty was an opportunity to share parts of himself that are often trapped under the surface of everyday life with those he loves and cares about everyday. Since he anticipated a weighty evening, I was skyped in - at seven A.M. Bishkek time. I arose, shaking off the sticky fragments of sleep and mussing my hair into a more acceptable version of bedhead, and was promptly beamed onto my brother’s iPad screen in a room full of people. All of the regulars were present, I could see, as well as several people whom I didn’t recognize. 

My mom spoke first, and wonderfully. She told of her and my dad’s nascent love, back in the early eighties, and told a few stories that illustrated the caring and infinitely perceptive man we all know and love. After that personal bit (which was predictably uncomfortable for her in a room in which she did not know everyone) and thoughtful words from my brother, it was my turn. Yes, I was called on to speak, via Skype, via Kyrgyzstan, and most importantly, via a translucent shell of sleep and surprise. I have been told I did fairly well, but the words I chose were not those that I would have preferred to offer to such a momentous occasion. After my “speech”, my dad began his well-thought-out and insightful message, which contained some choice memories and anecdotes of the sort I really enjoy; his wild, rebellious (and pipe-smoking!) days in communes and traversing Canada by train pique my interest (go figure, you must think. I’m 20 and living in Kyrgyzstan). After his time concluded, those present were called on to step forward into the buzzing air and add to the eulogizing, and one-by-one they contributed their own kind words. 

With this experience only hours behind me, my conversation with my mom quickly turned to the party and my feelings around it. Which then led to more and more feelings and quickly sunk to those aforementioned depths. I’m quite an incomplete person, I repetitiously realize, and my mom is the best one with whom to discuss my imperfections. Since this is a blog, not a diary, I won’t force these thoughts on my audience (sighs of relief), but I do want to share where they’ve led me. 

Featuring prominently in both of these events I’ve recounted is what I’ve identified as the only reason to live: love. The proximity of “live” and “love” in the previous sentence is no accident; I live to love, love to live, and even love to love. Even my (potential) writing, I hope, is centered on love. Art, in my opinion, is a vehicle by which one delivers the luminance of love, or the darkness of its absence, to another. Like Benjamin’s aura, love is where the individual stands, rapt and stimulated. What am I getting at, you ask? I’m simply pointing out to those who sometimes forget - and I count myself among them - that there is a direction in life, and it’s all around you. It’s not limited by fortune or fame, distance or disposition; it’s omnidirectional love. Since I sound preachy to myself, I’ll stop proselytizing. 

Nevertheless, even in this pre-dawn where I am currently situated, the specter of love is all around me. As my mom reminds me, there are only twenty five days left. Until then, I’ll revel in my own romance - and romans, Russian for novels. Enough, before my urge to delete this post overtakes my impulse to share.  

Tags: chrono

Portrait of an American Guest, Kadyr Bekov, 2012

Portrait of an American Guest, Kadyr Bekov, 2012

Tags: chrono

Deceleration (Acceleration)

Hello, everyone. 

As my posts appear less-and-less frequently, I feel the need to explain. I would say that my life has simply gotten more-and-more full of activity, and I can’t seem to find enough time to write a blog post. I would, if that were true. But it isn’t.

At the end of every semester of college I’ve hacked my way through (that’s 6, including this one), I feel the same feeling well up. It’s a viscous listlessness that I bring to all of my endeavors - schoolwork, teaching english, and yes, blog-writing. In the last few weeks, I find it increasingly difficult to do anything beyond watch films, listen to music, and hang out with friends. It’s like my seasonal timer is perpetually a month early in ringing, the itch of summer attacks me vigorously. I yearn for warm drives through the humid East Coast greenery, nights spent around a bonfire, and most of all the time to lounge and enjoy time instead of fighting against it. 

Over the last few months, I have been at work on several fronts. I’ve been working hardest at applying to summer internship programs and scouring the internet for new ones, an activity that is particularly draining since I am operating within a dizzying information vacuum: I have no idea where exactly to look or how to expend my effort, leaving me feeling like I’m closing my eyes, spinning around, and flailing my arms at the opportunities that may or may not be where I’m looking. Again, though, this process should not be so difficult, it’s only the sludge of expectation that slows me down. 

As I sit back and let the end-of-semester schoolwork fill up to my chin, I’m constantly thinking about all of the people whose arms I will soon be in, free to relish time sans guilt. I’ve gotten used to the weight of overdue work and teacher’s expectations, and, for better or worse, their weight has become atmospheric and virtually unnoticeable. This weird limbo on the other side of the world, with its long-awaited and precisely defined terminus, allows me to exercise my now-ancient skill of procrastination with languid ease. That’s certainly not a good thing, but at least it’s almost over. 

Now, onto the concrete details of my life in this past week. As my last post informed you, I  spent last Sunday hiking in Ala-Archa. Strangely, this trip led our group to three different burial sites, making for an uplifting Sunday. The trip also introduced me to several visitors to AUCA from the USA: Richard, Robert, and Dan. Richard is an artist that lives in the Hudson Valley of NY, where he paints what he calls “contemporary vanitas” - a reimagining of the 16/17th century Northern European tradition of funereal still life. He visited my CA Lit. & Art course on Thursday, and shared some of his paintings. They were all hyperrealistic oils, and featured bright flowers, women, and angelic wings on dark backgrounds. Quite striking, actually.

Also in Thursday’s class was Kyrgyz artist Kadyr Bekov, whose art was universally colorful in oil, watercolor, and even cartoon. Either he offered or Professor Hardin requested that he sketch a student, and first was Zara. Bekov did not hesitate, grabbing a couple pencils (his favorite medium) and beginning to swipe furiously at the paper. He chatted with Hardin and the class throughout the entire drawing, which took him no more than ten minutes to complete. It wasn’t the best likeness, but a very expressive rendering nonetheless. He and Hardin exchanged a few words in Russian - including words for American, guest, all in the male gender. Alright, I thought, he just wants to draw Richard, our American guest. Well, no. They wanted me. I sat in my best approximation of a model’s posture - one which Zara promptly criticized for its unerring stiffness, “like I just ate a metal rod” - and watched as he glanced up through his Soviet eyeglasses to take me in. Again, after about ten minutes, the portrait was finished. Though he didn’t shade in my upper lip quite as much as I would have liked, it was really good. One student commented that he’d drawn me to look like a Hussar, and Hardin agreed, laughing. They explained that a Hussar was a military man who chased women and dressed like a bit of a dandy, and then it was my turn to laugh. I guessed this caricaturist must have accented my rakishness. 

Moving backward, I want to talk about Robert and Dan. They both work at Al-Quds - Bard’s exchange partner in Palestine, about which I learned a great deal during our walk and when we joined them for drinks later that night. They’re both fluent in Arabic - each having chosen a different subdialect in accordance to the different refugee camps they hang out in most - and easygoing. Robert knows six languages, already having reached the polyglot status I aspire to, and is the Dean of Al-Quts. Dan is twenty-three, and teaches English and oversees the Bard exchange students. They both spoke at length about how much they love Palestine, about how loving the Palestinians are, and about how rewarding their work is. Somewhere in the middle of this onslaught, I realized that I wouldn’t mind doing work like theirs. That’s one of the few times I’ve had that realization, and I’ll keep it in mind for the fast approaching future. We hung out with Robert and Dan one more time on the night of their departure. We spied the pounds of honey, sausages, and flatbread that Robert was taking back to Palestine with him. Each of them had also bought one of the fur hats that were omnipresent just a few months ago, but have since faded with the coming summer. Upon parting, they each expressed our welcome in Palestine, something that sounds truly appealing.  

That’s all for now, but next week will be text-laden, I fear. This weekend is relatively empty, but the Junior’s Ball, the end of classes, and Tajikistan are all in the next ten days. I have a to-do list taped up next to my bed: “To-Do Before Tajikistan”. Let’s hope the slog is not as tough as these past few 30-degree (C) days have made it seem. 

Tags: chrono