My first few days in Andijon have been remarkably good, considering the fact that I’ve just had the most painful two weeks dealing with a personal issue so intense that I came close to leaving Peace Corps altogether. (Yes, it occurred during the ‘terrorist’ bombings, which at the time, were the least of my worries.) While I cannot really explain in detail here what it was, and still is, I can reassure everyone that I am fine and well cared for by the most devoted friends and my family. Peace Corps has done everything they can to ensure my physical and emotional well-being. So now I am back on track and at the very least, made it to Andijon.
On the drive here, there were still some snowy peaks as we crossed over the mountain pass and into the Ferghana valley where cotton fields are being tended to and trees are green with spring’s new leaves. In Andijon, white and purple irises are in full bloom along the main roads, which are lined by beautiful tall trees. And there are promises of a colorful summer full of rose gardens to replace the spring apricot blossoms that now litter the streets like a floral ticker-tape parade. The weather has been perfect - bright, sunny days. All this, plus the natural warmth of the Andijon people to match, give this place the beauty and serenity I desperately need.
After the emotional challenges of the past weeks, it has been a wholesome experience to finally arrive at my new host-family where they have been so caring. It is as if I was with my own family back home (but not completely, Mom). Because my host-sisters cook the most remarkable meals, I am eating healthier than ever. Everything is freshly prepared and almost nothing is store bought. I get homemade yogurt, butter from the neighbor’s cow, apricot jam, cherry compote, fresh milk (its not pasteurized nor homogenized, but they boil it to death before I drink it), and we even make fresh nan in the tandoor oven. The other day, I helped them make spinach pies that were so tasty we had them for breakfast the next morning as well. The leftover spinach was then tucked into fresh ravioli for that night’s supper. Needless to say, I’ve been stuffing myself silly.
It might sound like I’ve arrived in sugar-coated paradise, and perhaps that is how I choose to see things these days. But at the very least, I am happy about it all, which is a much needed balance to my recent nose-dive outlook on life.