Okay, so I know you have just heard from us, but we have had a lot of time lately to sit around and think about some of the ridiculous circumstances in which we live, so we couldn't help but to share a few extras with you. We hope you don't mind.
First of all, when someone is moving a dog from one location to another in the US, they put the dog in the car and away they go. Not here. The dogs are not so much pets here as alarm systems that could potentially bite your arm off. So you don't really want to put them in the car with you.
Last week our old neighbors sold their guard dog, Ceasar, who was a huge German Shepard (and incidentally did try to bite my arm off). But instead of putting the dog in the car, they tied the dog to the back of the car. This wasn't too bad of a system except that they were driving down the street too fast for the dog. Jack and I were taking a walk and observed the poor dog's condition. Then we realized the dog was gaining on the car. In fact, Ceasar began chasing the car he was tied to. This of course caused quite a commotion with the other dogs in the neighborhood who had never seen Ceasar before (because he was always tied up so he wouldn't bite someone's arm off). These dogs decided to simultaneously check Ceasar out and chase the car. They all continued down the street barking until they encountered some geese in the street. The car barreled through the geese, the geese scattered, and the dogs were left wondering who would be most fun to chase. Unfortunately Ceasar chose the geese and tried running the opposite direction the car was going only to be jerked back toward the car. But undaunted, Ceasar just took to chasing the car again and the other dogs continued chasing the geese. As for Jack and me, we went to bed because we were sure the excitement of the day was already at an end. You really can't beat that.
And now for some other differences between the US and Kazakhstan, here's Jack...
Some people, mostly rich people who have all the big things, say that in life it's the "little things" that count. Heres some daily "little" ways to think of us. We are officially 2/3 through our service by the way, with only about 8 months to go.
1. When you wash your hair, you turn on the tap. When we wash our hair we stick a heating coil in a bucket for 5-10 minutes and then ladle it out. Heating coil = a metal heating apparatus that where you stick one end in the water, the other in the electrical socket. Don't worry, I always wear my plastic shoes when I touch it. (Photo above.)
2. When you want a glass of water, you turn on the tap. We go down to the well with our four buckets and 6 five liter water bottles we've saved. Then we distill it- our distiller is another magic device that has a lot to do with electricity and water. I feel that this one is actually safe—the instructions clearly say "insulated" and "grounded" and "fires are unlikely in most circumstances" quite a few times— so I'm not complaining. The well is way more fun. It's like bobbing for apples, but you win every time. Except when the bucket falls into the well. Then it's grappling hook time. A grappling hook is a piece of heavy wire I have bent vaguely into the shape of a hook. Then I put it on the chain and pray. This is a game I don't win every time.
3. When you go to the bathroom you grab your favorite book, light a scented candle, and well, go. We put on our coat and shoes and (if its dark) grab the flashlight so we don't get eaten by the spiders. And forget about it at school, where we have a concrete bunker with a hole in the floor that makes me yearn for the toilet at the local Shell station back home.
4. You vacuum. I take the carpets outside and hit them with a stick. Not until they're clean, mind you. They don't get clean. I hit them until I get tired.
Other fun and games.
Amy and I finally have an actual refrigerator, and are rediscovering the wonder and convenience of leftovers. And it's cold enough outside now that the corridor has been promoted from "refrigerator" to "freezer."
Now that we can chill the tinned milk, I have discovered how to have cereal. If you mix concentrated milk with water just the right way you can pretend its actual milk and have cereal and milk.
The clean clothes test: you may go for it all when you do laundry. But here it's ok if it looks clean OR smells clean. That means if you can stand to look at it or stand to smell it you can wear it. For another week. In the United States we have "day socks". You wear them for a day. We wear 3 pairs of socks at a time so we have "week socks." Actually I have this neat rotation where the sock gets to be the "innermost" sock for a week, then it rotates and a new (remember, smells clean OR looks clean) sock gets put on the outside. It's very convenient.
That's about it for now. Thanks again for all your letters and packages. We really do enjoy them; they get read and re-read. And we make forts out of the boxes.
Jack & Amy