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~~It hard to believe that a little over a month has gone by here, with a holiday past, a few interesting trips and many adjustments. Yet through it all life continues to go. Once again this is James, bringing you here to life Under the Turkmen Sky.
The biggest and funniest part of the past recent days is the passing of Halloween. As a training group we were supposed to plan an extra curricular activity for some of the students during the week prior to the 31st, so we decided to do a Halloween theme. It went off without a hitch. We held the “English Camp” two days, each with different group of students. First we had them all together were, after having borrowed a projector from the peace corps office, we gave the students a Halloween vocabulary lesson, and then watched the Garfield Halloween special (Thank goodness I brought that DVD). Then we separated them into three groups of ten and sent them to one of three stations. One station was mask making were the students made some very creative masks. My favorite was a spider man mask. Another station was pumpkin carving. The other station, which I ran was the Haunted Hallway. Here we sectioned off a section of the hallway, darkened it, and I led the students, blindfolded, to put their hands into each of five “ghosts”. In the first ghost they felt “intestines” (pumpkin innards), in the second “ears” (little bell peppers halved), in the third “eye balls” (peeled grapes), in the fourth “brains” (spaghetti), and in the fifth “teeth” (corn). It was a big hit, I even had a few students get so scared that they refused to go on and were quite relieved when I led them out and took their blindfolds off. They had never seen anything like it, and had a wonderful time.
In my quest for an affordable pair of athletic shoes, we took a trip to Talkuchka, which is the largest bazaar in Turkmenistan, if not anywhere. It was a wonderland of shopping. With booth after booth as far as the eye can see. From clothes, to household items, to traditional Turkmen items and rugs, it was a consumer’s oasis, as long as you could fight your way through the throng of people. I managed to find a nice pair of Chinese made cheap athletic shoes, a mirror, and some athletic pants, all of which I was able to perform the obligatory bargaining, to obtain them at a slightly lower price.
A few days ago all the volunteers in training, got together for a Peace Corps arranged trip to an underground warm mineral spring lake known as Kow Ata. After an hour of training, a delicious lunch of kebab style cooked meats, I descended 150 into the cave along a lighted stair path. Near the bottom they had a metal shack changing station. It felt so incredible to fully immerse myself in the eighty degree water. Finally something a type of refreshing that the bucket bath just doesn’t offer. I swam, dove off of rocks, and just chilled with my fellow volunteers. I thought wow, if I were Batman; this is definitely where I would set up my HQ. After that I managed to make it to the PC office in Ashgabat and check my email, and found out that they also have a real shower there, where I rinsed off. When I got home I chilled out and watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on my computer and the thus ended the best day in Turkmenistan ever.
In the day to day routine life goes pretty well. I have been really blessed to be able to catch on to the language pretty quickly. My health is good although right now I and my stomach are at odds. Maybe it was the apple I had at lunch. Daily living isn’t too bad, although since the weather has dropped to low eighties my host family finds it necessary to run the heating system all the time, which ends up making my room feel like the Sahara desert. Perhaps it’s training for summer time. At any rate my only recourse is to open the windows, which then invites a host of little flying guests into my room. And ah yes the adjustment goes on.
At the school where we are doing our training, we each every now and then, and when we don’t teach we observe classes. One day I observed a class of ten year olds, or fifth graders, and the teacher was teaching ordinal numbers. Since the class has back to back periods of English the teacher asked me if I knew any fun activities we could do with this lesson. I said I didn’t but I’d come up with something. I saw a chart in the classroom that had things and numbers, and the hamster began running. I quickly looked at the chart and penned a poem:

First came the apple and said hello to me
Second came the orange as happy as can be
Third came the pineapple rolling into town
Fourth came the dog and sat right down
Fifth came the bird flying in the sky
Sixth came the zebra and looked me in the eye
Seventh came the tiger and gave a mighty roar
Eighth came the cat right through my door
Ninth came the monkey, who really wanted to stay
But Tenth came the car and drove them all away

I came up with a little tune and we sang it a few times. They did great. It was funny when the teacher had them write it down in their notebooks. I thought wow years and years from now some of these little ones may still have and remember this little ditty that I wrote down really quickly so they could have a fun activity. It’s a nice thought.
 And so the sun sets once more. Until the next time we meet Under the Turkmen Sky, this is James saying, “Whoa looks like another trip to the shack of the squatter’s delight.” May the Lord Bless you and keep you.



Submitted: May 17, 2015

© Copyright 2022 Mist James. All rights reserved.

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