Trip Start Jan 15, 2005
Trip End Jun 01, 2005

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Flag of Uzbekistan  ,
Sunday, February 6, 2005

Hello Everyone!!
I hope you are doing wel. I'm fine here, I feel I'm adjusting well to life here in Uzbekistan. Granted my time here has been sheltered and restricted since I arrived, but that's not all bad, I would hate to end up in a Uzbek prison. I've been with my host family for about a week now, I think they consider me a guest still, but I'm trying to become like another member of the family. The guest treatment is evident at meals, as they say "eat, eat", and "drink, drink", but I try to help cook and clean up so to impress upon them my desire to integrate. It's hard to tell what they think of me, but I think they like me, or at least tolerate me.
My host family is great - I have a mom and dad, 2 older brothers and 2 sisters, one older and one younger. The mom works very hard at home, cooking and maintaining the household. She is a warm, loving person and her smile is big and sparkly with a few gold teeth. My dad and I don't interact much, he is busy as a T.V. producer for a Tashkent station. I see him at meals and he is patient with my language skills and is also easy to smile. The brothers are Nodir and Bodir, both about 30. Nodir is married I think, but spends a lot of time at home, so I'm not sure about his situation. Bodir lives with his parents, which seems strange to us Americans but family is important and children leave home only when they marry. Actually, sons and their wives live with the parents in a separate home on the same grounds. The daughter in law then does the house work. Poor girl.
My older sister is married and lives in Bukhara. Shaknoz, the younger sister is 21 and we have become fast friends. She is helping me with my Uzbek and I have enjoyed hanging out with her. She is a warm, friendly spirit in this unfamilar place. Their home is located in Durmen, and down the street from the President. I have language class with other trainees that live in the same town, so we often walk together. We gather everyday for 3 hours of language training and by the end of the day my head is tired.
Uzbek is not that difficult compared to other languages like Spanish and German. Uzbek has no irregular verbs, no articles, and the verb conjugations are straight forward. Unfortunately I have to learn cryllic, so I feel like I'm a baby again learning to speak and read English. I read somewhere that Uzbekistan was changing to the Latin alphabet, but everything is still in cryllic. Everyday, I learn so much and find I can understand and say more and more, so that part is going well.
The schedule for training keeps me busy. I have those 3 hours of language training, and 3 more hours of technical training, with traveling in between. Thankfully, the culture here welcomes personal interaction dispersed in the work, so we have half an hour coffee breaks during the day. I get to take local transportation everyday, since my training isn't in my town. I take a marshutka (taxi) and a one way ticket costs 300 soum or 30 cents. It's not expensive for my standards, but I pay too much. The exchange rate is pretty good, so a poor college/PC trainee can get by. The minimum wage is $6 per month. Amazing. I think I'll be able to save some money during training for travelling.
Speaking of travelling, I'll be going to Shakhrisabz next weekend, on an independent training trip. Peace Corps is providing us with the funds to travel and stay in Shakhrisabz for the weekend. Other groups are going to Navoi, Bukhara, and Samarkand. I'm not jealous though, Shakhrisabz is a very historical place, they celebrated their 2600th anniversary in 2002 and it's the birth place of Temir.
So far, my time here has been good, I've met some great people. But I miss all of you very much. Sorry to say I've also had a difficult time keeping in touch with you because of the lack of time, and availability of internet. I know that this will get better as my opportunity for freedom and language skills increase. I will try to do a better job of writing. Mail is even difficult because PC only brings it on Fridays and sending mail isn't as easy as in the US. Katta Rahmat (big thanks) for the mail that you have sent and hopefully it arrives soon.
I hope you are well, safe and happy.

Keep in touch.

P.s. I'll start to cook some American meals for my family here. If you have any recipes that are easy and simple (some ingredients are not available), please send them. A special request for breads that are hearty.
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