6/24/05 Fora & Fauna

Hello All!
I am in the process right now of trying to upload some pictures onto the website. It has been loading for about 10 minutes, but go ahead and check later and hopefully there will be a few up there. I finally remembered to bring my camera with me today, but unfortunately it is raining, so I couldn't see the mountains. I am loading a picture of my language class and of me and Jack in the internet lounge. If all goes well, I'll try to load a few more next week, hopefully of my host family and the mountains.

I am trying to think of topics to write about, so please send questions. Today, I was inspired by a group of barn swallows to write about the plants and animals of Kazakhstan. (Quick side note, Jack just walked in and said someone outside the school just asked him for directions, proving once again that not only do Germans love David Hasslehoff, but Jack looks incredible friendly and people worldwide will always ask him for directions. By the way, Jack could only say back, "I study at the school.")

Flora: I am watching carefully, but so far I haven't seen any plants here that I haven't seen in the United States. Near my house there are mostly huge purple thistles, mustard, and a bluish-purple flower I recognize but forget what it is (sorry Mom).

Fauna: Cats and Dogs. Everyone has dogs. Every One. We have two huge dogs in our yard, and I am so glad they are tied up because they are big and very scary. I'll try to send a picture. There are also tons of little dogs running around every where. Don't ask me what breed of dogs there are, there are no breeds here, only very muttly. There are cats everywhere too, though I have yet to see anyone pet a dog or cat so I've decided it isn't a very good idea.

Birds. There are birds everywhere, but I really need a bird book to tell you exactly what is here. The birds I see most frequently are Mynah birds. They are as prevalent as robins back home. They like to sit on the cattle and make lots of noise. There are also lots of sparrows and pigeons everywhere. There are also coo-coos everywhere, though I have yet to see one. Every morning I hear them everywhere though, they sound just like the old coo-coo clocks. Of birds I don't know, there is one beautiful bird that has a gray back, black and white stripped undersides, a black head, and large white mask. Any guesses? I'll update you as I learn more.

Barnyard Animals. I haven't seen so many barnyard animals as I have smelled them. Though every day I see women walking their cows home. They seem to drop them off in fields during the day then walk them home to their own yards at night. There are also chickens running throughout town. They are usually hanging around the garbage piles. I have only seen sheep being herded through town once, though Jack and I came home the other night to our neighbor butchering a sheep in our front yard. I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and there was the sheep’s head and legs, black from fire, sitting on top of the washing machine. I went to take a bath the next day and I found the rest of the sheep strung across the bathroom. It has been an interesting week :)

We're still doing well, but getting a bit exhausted from 6 hours of language training today. I can now describe my family and friends though, so that is fun. This afternoon I'll be showing pictures and saying, "This is my brother (brat in Russian), his name is Michael, he likes..., etc. It should be fun.

Miss you lots, keep the emails coming, I can read easier that reply since that takes forever to load, but I am so happy to hear from you. All the best, Amy

Jack’s take on the sheep: My family butchered a sheep yesterday. Since the sink is in the kitchen I went in there to brush my teeth and found myself face to face with a sheep's head that they are apparently saving for later. I ate a sheep's ear the other day. It wasn’t really gross—they don’t taste like much.

Its hot here. 95 today. 95 yesterday. 95 tomorrow. Long pants always. No air, but, on the bright side, I get a bath every day, which helps a lot.