09 May 2008

Tick-pickers look like chimps on Victory Day

One of the countless military bands waiting yesterday morning for the start of the celebration of Victory Day, the holiday recognizing the Allied victory over the Nazis in 1945. This is a major holiday in Kyrgyzstan and the rest of the post-Soviet world. Some of the veterans had so many medals and ribbons on their chest I was surprised that very old and frail ones didn’t fall forward from the additional weight. But people of all ages turned out for the festivities, not just those with direct memories. I only caught the early part before they got into heavy duty marching and speechifying.

Later in the morning I went hiking with Valeri and Sam, two of my colleague at AUCA, at Alymedin Gorge, but only after we backed way from the entrance to Ala-Archa National Park, which was so choked with traffic that nobody could move forward. We ended up bushwhacking up the side of gorge. No fun; it was steep as hell, dense with growth covered with what had to be a millions ticks. When we finished our hike, we took off out shirts to remove the ticks from ourselves and each other and must have looked like a family of chimpanzees in a nit-picking grooming extravaganza.