Location: Uralsk, Kazakhstan

My address! Rachael Schmidt 106 Dimitrieva St. P.O Box 56 Uralsk 417 000 Kazakhstan

Friday, August 27, 2004

Mama, I'll be a little late!

Uralsk August 26, 2004

Greetings! So far so good. Still not certain when I’ll be able to email. But when the chance comes I’ll be ready.
My new host family is wonderful! Even better than I ever hoped for. There’s mom (Maoora), dad (Ghimran) and three sons (Azamat, Armat, and Oskar). Their ages are 16, 15, and 8. I think anyway. I also heard that the two older ones will be studying in England come September. We’ll see.
So far I haven’t had much of a chance to check out the city, other than the university. But, during the next two years I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time for that. Till then, I’m sort of trapped in their house. And what a house it is. Even without comparing it to my little house in the village of Issyk, it’s a mansion! Talk about going from one extreme to another. I’ve done exactly that. Of course I can’t take credit for it though.
I had no idea how I was going to find transportation from the airport to their house. Well, they were waiting for me with 3 men to carry my luggage, a car and a driver. Apparently whenever I need transportation I just let them know and the car will be waiting. Not too shabby.
After being taken home, I was fed an amazing, traditional Kazakhstani meal. Complete with a glass (or two or three, yea!! They drink!!) of dry red wine. Unfortunately my host father wasn’t there due to a meeting he had with the president of Kazakhstan. Does it get any better? No!! I also had horse meat for the first time. That seems to be the main meat here. It’s not bad; similar to beef, but better.
The first night they complimented me on my Russian. That certainly came as a shocker. Obviously they weren’t expecting much in regards to language skills. Later that night, while watching TV, I saw my host father on the news speaking with President Nazerbaev. Yeah, not a bad family. In addition to the wealth, indoor plumbing, sauna and pool, they’re truly genuine, warm and great people. I can’t imagine being with a better family.
Did I mention the weather?? It’s even hotter than southern Kazakhstan!! At least 100 degrees at times. And of course they don’t have air conditioning or a fan. Not that I’m complaining, well, maybe just a bit. It’s HOT!!! And I know for certain that I will be eating those words once I experience my first Siberian Winter. The country director of the Peace Corps said, and I quote, “A happy volunteer is a bitching volunteer.” So, guess I’m happy after all!
My counterpart, Maryam, is also wonderful. Never mind she’s in Moscow right now taking care of her daughter when I need her!! Her English is great and she really looks out for me. And, I officially have a post office box. Unfortunately I have no idea what the address is though. All in good time.
Ghimran said that I’ll be able to hook up to the internet at home. Not sure when that will take place. They’re very busy at this point and I hate to bother them more than 5 or 6 times a day.
Well, I guess that’s my report for now. I hope to be able to send this off soon. In the meantime, I miss you all VERY much!!!

Much love, Rachael

Sunday, August 15, 2004



Hey Everybody!
Sorry it's been so long, but training has been rather time consuming. And, now that training is officially over the real fun begins.
Next week I'll be leaving for the city of Uralsk. It's in the north/west corner of Kazakhstan and it's closer to Moscow than to where I am right now (Issyk/Almaty)
I still don't know what my address will be. But rest assured, I will have that for you ASAP!!!

I'll write more soon!
love, Rachael