Our new driver, Azamat, spoke excellent English and drove us 3 ½ hours to a large town called Karakol. Azamat was the local CBT coordinator and brought us to his home where we met his wife, Perisat and his parents, Gulnara and Temir. We chatted to Gulnara and Perisat about Kyrgyz crafts and Gulnara’s trip to Thunder Bay, Ontario, where she was a guest artist at the university. After a lovely spread of fresh bread, honey and tea, we felt revitalized and excited to explore Karakol.
Azamat drove us to a craft collective, where both Gulnara and Temir’s art was for sale. Colourful and filled with incense, it was overflowing with shyrdaks, modern art, slippers, miniature yurts, clothes, and toys. Madina, Azamat`s sister showed us around and then took us to Temir`s gallery. We had lunch and continued to explore the town.
Four days of just meat, a lot of starch and almost no veggies was proving to be difficult. Should have brought dryed seaweed! The growing season was still fairly early so while most home stay families had gardens, things were too small to harvest.
We walked to a huge field near the football stadium and rested whilst Yara played. A flock of sheep wondered by with a young boy, stick in hand, herding the sheep on his bicycle. We found the museum and took pictures of stuffed animals, art and other artefacts. It wasn’t long before Yara began to be part of the exhibitions, so we headed home.
Our time in Karakol was a good introduction to Kyrgyzstan city life, but already we felt it was time to head to the country side! We said goodbye to our host family and gave them our family card, maple syrup and cranberries. Azamat drove us two hours to Barskoon, a predominantly Kyrgyz village. On our way we passed a metal market and a Kyrgyz graveyard. There was a combination of your traditional tombstones and metal yurt frames!