On Tuesday we got to practice the art of hospitality in true Central Asian style! Three workers from the company’s office in another city in-country came to visit and got to be our house guests! Their main reason for visiting was to see how the workers here operated and get advice on how to do similar water projects in villages near them. We got to accompany them and our supervisor on a two kilometer hike up to the spring where one of our company’s first completed gravity-fed drinking water systems was capped. Additionally, we got to walk them through the spreadsheet we had just finished to assist in the analysis of potential spring-fed drinking water systems. It was neat to get to communicate what we had learned and had been working on to someone without the technical engineering background we had. In the end, the three coworkers were very grateful for us hosting them (cinnamon rolls and all!) and training them in the work done here. We three were also personally challenged by J-Beck (one of the coworkers) who was participating in the Ramadan fast. We got to ask many questions about his experience fasting.
On Thursday we woke up extra early to visit a nearby village. Our boss informed us that this village had experienced a landslide and the existing pipe line connecting the village to the spring had been damaged/washed out. He wanted us to join him in hiking to the spring to survey the damage and assess if we needed to provide them the extra pipe they desired. We were told this would be a long hike and that it was! We hiked for nearly 10 hours covering 19 km (roughly 12 miles) and ascending about 1 km through the mountain side.
This was a great experience and we loved every bit of it despite the heat and hard to navigate trail. When we arrived at the village, a local villager met us to guide us to the spring. A couple of national coworkers joined us as well. We were all impressed with the locals ability to sure footedly navigate the mountain sides. Growing up in the flatter lands of Texas and Oklahoma didn’t prepare us too well. Throughout the hike we bonded over jokes, deeper one-on-one conversations with each other, and taking in the beautiful sights (see pictures for proof).
Half way up the mountain we came across some locals farming on the side of the mountain. It was neat seeing how the villagers harvest produce. Halfway up we came across a villager who insisted that we borrow his horse, even after we said “Nay. Nay.” (there’s a joke for all you fluent in central asian!). We were so thankful to him as each of us took turns throughout the day riding it. The horse provided many opportunities to pose for the camera and we will long remember navigating these trails by horse.
We came across several spots where the pipe line had been previously damaged and repaired. On the way back down we were shown great hospitality. A local farmer fed us chaka (a sort of sour milk), which Eric and Ryan found considerably more refreshing than Bryan. We were pretty beat at the conclusion of our day hike, and were invited in to our guide’s house. He fed us osh, the nation’s traditional food, which is an oily rice mixture with meat that tends to remind Eric of fried rice.
This week has also been VERY encouraging in regards to relationships with the english students we’ve met and have been playing futbol with. First, we managed to finally get two students to come eat with us! Bob and Cash agreed to break their fast with us on Wednesday evening after a long game of futbol.