On departure morning, our luggage was put into the panniers and ridden to the car by our driver. We followed on foot. Then we drove further along the valley through several villages. The villages always had asphalt road, in between was dust track.
At some point, the dust road worsened or rather it became a gravel road and we had a flat tyre:
This was exchanged and we drove to our destination Tuura Suu. It looked like the last village in the valley – but you could still see something behind it.
Tuura Suu has about 120 families and some empty houses of people who have migrated. There was not really much to work here, but not many opportunities to earn money. We started for a walk, but I didn’t get further than the cemetery. It was somehow too hot for me again.
After all, we are in a Muslim country here, which means that pictures are actually taboo. Our host then also noted that he doesn’t like people having pictures on their gravestones – names and dates are perfectly sufficient. But cairns without anything are best. They have a mosque right on their doorstep. The man of the house goes there about once a week. His one son, who lives elsewhere, goes 5 times a day. After the meal, they thank for it and hope for an equally fine next meal.
This mosque was built about 10 years ago. The next day we walked to the school with our host. He used to be the headmaster there and is now retired. The school was closed for holidays, which last 3 months from June to August. But they use this time for renovations and so it was open and we could have a look. Schools go up to grade 11. This one had over 100 children and, according to the ex-director, is one of the 10 best schools in the country. But maybe it is only one of the 10 best village schools? In any case, it did not make a bad impression on us. There were special rooms for certain subjects. The classes are not that big, there are rather 20 children at most. English is taught, but the level is not really good. Computer classes are available. Pupils with offences like being late, not having things in order or other things are put on the public board as well as those with very good criteria. The school has also produced celebrities such as an internationally sought-after stonemason and a successful wrestler. The only difference to the Soviet era was the change in the way history is taught. The ex-principal spoke German with us – and was not bad at that. However, it was not sufficient for further discussions.
From Taara Suu, a 28 km jeep track leads back to Issyk Kul – you can drive it or walk a bit. We walked about 9 km. We saw a live and a dead snake. Otherwise it was not that exciting, but nice.
Our destination was Kara Taala. Kara means black by the way – and here the black stones were meant, i.e. the mountain hills behind Kara Taala look quite dark. Apart from that, Kara Taala impresses with a full-sized wide trunk road through the middle, wetlands between Issyk Kul and the village (-> no bathing possible) and an ex-teacher with a place to stay. Here they usually have rooms without much furniture, but with carpet and then quilts or mats with bedding, which is good to lay out when you have guests. That was the case here and in Tuura Suu. In addition, you have the non-water toilet in the farthest corner of the garden or, if you’re lucky, a bit closer to the house, in any case outside. Unfavourable for the nightly need to go to the toilet.
Mrs. ex-teacher also showed us her school. There was an older part, Lenin was in front and inside locked .
The new part of the school was a bit difficult to visit. There was a gentleman with many keys who kept running back and forth trying to find the right ones. He was not very successful, we could hardly get into the classrooms. They were renovating here too, but everything was closed at the time. With Mrs. Ex-teacher we clearly noticed the limits of communication. She spoke English and not badly at all. But she answered many questions with completely different content – and we never knew if the question was not good or if she misunderstood. And later we also noticed some contradictions. At first she said that the pupils were quite well-behaved. Later, she raved about the good behaving pupils during the Soviet era and how difficult they were today.
Anyway, she studied electrical engineering and mathematics and actually wanted to have a great electrical engineering job. But then she met her husband at Bishkek University and followed him to his hometown Kara Taala and there were no opportunities there. So she became a maths teacher. Now she is retired, but misses the work. Though she is lucky that she can do maternity cover from autumn.
Since the school was not so productive, she looked around to see what else she could show us and came up with the family across the street from the school. A wedding had just taken place and we were allowed to meet the bride. She is 21 and from Bukhara/Uzbekistan. The two parents are somehow related and brought the two together. They met once and then communicated via the internet and agreed to the wedding. And so the bride then left her home, got married, her husband had to go straight back to Moscow where he works and she would follow in a few days. She did nothing after school and now – as we understood – she would mainly be a wife. She lookeded as if she had really hit the jackpot. Mrs. Ex-teacher was not quite so enthusiastic – better to learn and do some work.
Behind this curtain was a mattress with Uzbek and Kyrgyz patterns:
Female family members squatted in the half-open anteroom. There was also a cooker there that made me wonder.
Afterwards, Ute and I walked through the village to the wetlands. And noticed that almost every dwelling is surrounded by walls – one even has a surveillance camera. That makes it feel rather forbidding, and we also met few people. Overall, I find the people here nice, but it’s not really easy to get a good contact. And I don’t think it’s just walls and language barriers – but it’s not quite clear to me yet what’s missing.
Here are a few walking pictures:
But we did have two contacts: a gentleman was sitting in the garden cutting up a slaughtered sheep, waved at us, invited us in and was keen for me to take a photo:
Another was sitting in his car and I got a full-on fright as I walked past. An occasion to make contact! He is a truck driver and has been to Germany several times, but also to other European countries. Usually he transports furniture.
In Tuura Suu we had a very nice contact with the daughter-in-law of the ex-director, she didn’t speak English or anything, but seemed very friendly, open-minded and interested. A woman to smile at. Usually daughters-in-law always move in with the men’s family and are responsible for the kitchen – as we have often seen. This one was no exception.
But as is the case when travelling: no sooner do you complain about something like a lack of intensive contact – everything changes shortly afterwards!