going to Issyk Kul

After an uneventful weekend of lounging in my pool, baking a cake, and calling around to get the Oxus International summer intern out of custody from the Karabalta police station (what? I’ll explain below), the whole office is heading to Karakol (and nearby villages) for a few days to conduct some research and workshops.

Hopefully we’ll have some news about the trip up on the Oxus website soon. The main research took place a few weeks ago in some seriously way-the-f**k-out-there villages in Jeti-Oguz rayon, near the Chinese border. We won’t be going that far out for this trip. It turns out that the people who run those villages don’t even spend their days there, as there is no communication at all. Phone lines, mobile service, internet, fax, nothing. We’ll stick to the administrative villages that do have some communication, along the south shore of Issyk Kul.

I’m a bit bummed that we aren’t heading all the way out to the main research site. There are CAMELS out there. (photo by Meerim Maturaimova)

(But there are also miles and miles and miles of unpaved roads, and a “bridge” that looks like this. Photo by Kanykey Jailobaeva.)

So I’m wrapping up the rest of my cake and heading to Issyk Kul for the next few days. I have a post scheduled, but I won’t be around otherwise.

Oh yeah, the intern. After traveling in Karabalta, she was stopped by the police and didn’t have her passport on her. The logical conclusion for them was to arrest her, accuse her of being a spy, and hold her for hours with no opportunity to contact anyone. She texted a friend in secret before they took her phone, the friend called Farrell, and Farrell got in touch with the emergency contact for her embassy, who got her out of there safely. Despite this, I would say our track record with interns is still pretty okay. But, dang, what a bunch of dirt bags! As she was leaving, they told her to never come back to Karabalta. Another reason for me to never go there, ever.

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