the post office

Since I came to Bishkek, I’ve heavily cautioned family and friends that I’ve heard only terrible things about Kyrgyzstan’s postal service. Please, don’t send me something unless you’ve already come to terms with the fact that I might only receive it in pieces, if at all.

Well, I can now happily report that if (when) you send me stuff, it will arrive…


Packages from my father and my sister-in-law took a bit under six weeks to arrive. Six weeks! Ugh! Long gone are the easy days of receiving packages with my APO address in Baghdad.

And the packages didn’t magically appear at my doorstep either. About a month after they were sent, Farrell and I dragged Gulzara, our friend and patient translator, to the post office for our neighborhood to figure out if our stuff was gathering dust in a corner. Нет, we’d get a notice when our boxes arrive. Go leave us alone in the meantime.

One day, we found a little scrap of paper folded in our door. It had quick, passive Russian handwriting on one side, and a barely visible stamp that said “Kyrgyz Post” on the other.

First, we walk to the post office for our zipcode. After standing awkwardly in front of an employee for several minutes, she finally took notice of the clueless foreigners and collected our scrap of paper. She went to a back room and returned with more scraps of paper. What? I could have sworn we would be picking up boxes. A few more awkward minutes of trying to break through our respective Russian and English barriers, we figured out that we were simply collecting notices that would allow us to get our packages from the main post office.

Oh. Silly us, we assumed this would be easier.

Another trip out, several blocks further.

When we get to the city’s main post office, we’re shooed out of several rooms and directed to a window run by a tiny Kyrgyz woman. She looks like she has a chaotic way of organizing the packages, which are stacked high to the ceiling and strewn around the floor. Somehow she quickly finds our packages and accepts Farrell’s passport copy for identification. No taxes to pay and it looks like nothing was touched (although I’m sure they had better things to do than sort through packages that said “towels” and “soap” on the customs form).

I have measuring cups now! Farrell has hiking boots and hot sauce! We both get to enjoy a whole calendar of pictures of our lovely niece and various other creature comforts. We’re eternally grateful to our family for thinking of us and putting up with uncertainty and high shipping costs.

With this information in mind, that packages will eventually arrive in one piece, lovely people who are looking to make me happy may send the following:
– cupcake liners
– cocoa powder (the darker the better)
– letters! (shout out to Eric and Valentine for proving that snail mail also arrives to us safely in one piece)
– good coffee
– anything else you feel like sending that is small (our apartment is probably the area of two king-sized beds lined up lengthwise, and we have a maniacal cat who enjoys knocking things over)

Hit me up for my address and your kindness will be reciprocated.