March 2006

March 2006
Hello All,
Hope you are having a beautiful March. March in Kazakhstan is called "Mud Season" instead of Spring. I'll leave you to consider why.

We are on spring break right now, which has been nice to have a little break. We decided to spend our break in Bayanaul to attend the wedding of the woman I team teach with. She seemed very happy to have us there, so that was nice.

Spring Break is really the Kazakh New Year break. New Years is called Nauryz in Kazakh. So "Nauryz Kyt-ti Bol-sen" means Happy New Year in Kazakh. Try it on your friends! For Nauryz, Jack and I were asked to sing at the "Culture House," the local theater that hosts concerts. We sang "Kazimnin Karasu," which in Kazakh means "Brown Eyed Girl." So I guess that makes us like Van Morrison! We were a huge hit, especially with the older Kazakh women. Which is actually too bad since that is the only song we know in Kazakh and it has been requested 3 times since. Guess we had better start learning a new song.

Following the concert, Jack and I attended many of the "yurt" parties set up in the center of town. A yurt is basically a big circular tent covered in colorful hangings. We were even invited to the mayor's yurt! At each yurt we were given "Nauryz Koozhee" to try. This is a delightful drink made with milk or keffir, rice, salt, raisons, and horse meat. Yum! We of course ate lots of bishbarmark as well. In an act of sheer genius, Jack suggested we give up alcohol for lent, so luckily we got out of the vodka part of Nauryz, but since it was Jack's birthday, almost every toast included best wishes for him and of course wishes of babies for us (named Bayanbek and Bayangul as usual).

We go back to school on Thursday and then just have 2 months until school is over for summer!
Amy and Jack Simms