Sunday, December 16, 2012

Kara Balta; Lenin Museum

Tracing back to Bishkek.  The problem with trying to recount things is that it loses the fun details that get washed over, and ends up being a cursory recounting...

We had a program outside the city, about an hour or so away in a place called Kara Balta. Kara Balta used to be the main uranium refining center for the Soviet Union.  The center of the city, which looked starkly different- in newer pastels and designs- from the surrounding areas, had formerly been off-limits

The performance at the school was a lot of fun, the kids loved it and stuck around for a while taking pictures with the Dellas. 

We headed back into town to meet Kamila the cultural affairs assistant.  Kamila’s mother had passed away 40 days prior and she was ending the period of mourning that day.  We had bought her some flowers, and she was really touched.  She had us over at her sister’s restaurant (called Fatboy’s!) for some traditional plov as a gesture of thanks. 

After the late lunch, we headed back to the music school for the Dellas to continue their rehearsals with the folk group Ustat Shakirt.

That night, we sat around the restaurant bar, playing Apples to Apples, always a fav.  Big thanks to the American Corner for lending us that.

Saturday was the day of the concert.  I had much of the morning free so I headed over to the Kyrgyz National Museum—formerly the Lenin Museum   Fascinating!  Giant bronze statues and busts of Lenin.  Lenin in St. Petersburg in that famous scene; Lenin leading the people.  And there were all sorts of murals and other bronze busts of “the people” and also Marx and Engels.  Interspersed in all of this Leninalia was displays on Kyrgyz history and culture.  It was just a tad discordant, but interesting for such.  And out back was a giant statue of Lenin that used to grace the main square but has been relegated to the backyard.  There were pigeons sitting on his head and his pointing finger, I had to giggle a bit.

I spent the rest of the day, hanging out at the restaurant at the top of our hotel.  The Holiday Hotel has a restaurant/cafe/bar on the 8th floor (top) that has the most spectacular view of the Tien Shan Mountain range just beyond the city.  The majestic snow covered mountain made such a phenomenal backdrop for breakfasts and afternoon coffees, it definitely ranked up among best views for a hotel restaurant.

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