As my time in Almaty reaches its end, I can already feel a sense of nostalgia brooding within me. Every Friday evening I would make it a habit to go down to the promenade and listen to local musicians while enjoying freshly squeezed juice or a delicious ice cream. Meanwhile, I would also listen to conversations among families, friends, and business owners, and occasionally I partook in them to my best of my abilities. I recently just returned from a 2 day excursion to “Озеро Каинды”
I was amazed at the beauty of the nature presented all around me. Never have I seen trees sticking and growing out of the water and never have I experienced before swimming in a freezing cold lake. In the houses we stayed for the night we were served local foods such as sheep with rice and sweet breads all of which were delicious. If given the chance, I would definitely return to explore more of the vast, rich nature that Kazakhstan has to offer.
On another excursion, we visited an art museum that portrayed a variety of works from different stages of Kazakhstan’s history. I was particularly captivated by a painting in where a man was looking sternly, but calm while working at a metallurgic factory. The piece was from Kazakhstan’s Soviet era and I believe it absolutely embodied the Soviet spirit of hard work and labor taken from the perspective of a Kazakh. There were also a variety of sculptures. I enjoyed the wooden carvings of trunks of trees that showed a laughing man or an old wise man. In addition, I am delighted at how hospitable, friendly and open people in Almaty are.
Everyday it seems like I have made a new friend that is either a Kazakh, Russian, or of other nationality. Most of which can speak English, and will be nice enough to correct and practice with me my Russian speaking skills. I have been often confused as an Uzbek, a Turk, or even a Kazakh. According to one of my professors this is due to me being from South America and having some indigenous features that bear similarity to a person from the Central Asian region of the world. I have yet to try the fermented horse milk that they serve in Kazakhstan as it is one of the country’s national drinks. I have eaten horse, which in my opinion does not taste much differently than beef. Although my classmates often disagree with me on this topic, I believe it just depends on how the meat was marinated.
All in all the only thing I would have to complain about is Almaty’s random weather patterns that switch between really hot temperatures to strong winds with rain. I have been caught in rain storms and been soaked so many times that I never leave the house without an umbrella, even if the sun is out and there are no clouds. If anything, the weather makes life in Almaty a bit more interesting.
By: Leon Figueroa
Term: Summer 2016