Carol Bontekoe

This blog has been keeping track of my adventures since 2004. The stories and the adventures have come from my college dorm room to Uganda, Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan, learning Dutch in the Netherlands to living in the wilds of Homer, Alaska. I went back to school in Amsterdam to study Theaterwetenschap (Theatre Science) at University of Amsterdam. And now my adventures as a Fruit Fly, a Sexy Unicorn, and creating a movement with Team Sparkle in Chicago.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Fall of the CCCP

I have to admit, I love Russian Babushkas. In my training village I instantly made friends with about 6 Babushkas. They became known as my Bab Squad. These women, there is no other way to put it, are tough. They survived the Soviet Union, then the fall of the Soviet Union, then being thrown into the 21st century with out decades of preparation for it. The other day I was walking behind two Babs on my way to church. I could see this giant piece of road that was broken and sticking up into the air. However, one of the Babs didn’t see it. She went flipping over it. Don’t think that it was a gentle fall either, some nice little trip. No, no, no. It was head over feet, face down into the ground kind of fall. I came running up to help her up. The whole right side of her face was gashed open and bleeding, so was the backside of her right hand. She joked with me that she is getting too old since she didn’t see that bit of road. Her friend let her know that she was bleeding. The bleeding Bab reached into her packet and got a napkin and gentle started dabbing the blood, all the while joking with me and her friend. It was a little while before she even noticed how bloody her hand was. Oh, well look at that… and she started dabbing at her hand. She and her friend did not make a big deal of this. Yeah, she fell she was bloody, that stinks, but that was about it.This is not a mirror of the Russian girls I deal with on regular basis. This new generation of Russian girls is nothing like the oldest generation left. They are whiny, moody, spoiled, and will burst into tears over the littlest things. I want them to look at their grandmas and see that these are tough women. These are women to respect and admire. They need to see that if the don’t shape up they won’t be treated with the same reverence their Babushkas are. I hope she put some iodine on those cuts.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

My Purpose Statement..

The other day I was having a bit of a crisis. I had my face pressed against the cold glass of the bus and was staring out at the fresh coat of snow. I was thinking, "Why am I here? Why do they need to learn English?" I was praying for God to show me a sign and he sent it. Out the window I saw an ordinary boy walking by and he had on a Red Sweatshirt. It all was so ordinary so not the sign I was asking for till I read his shirt...In very large block letters his shirt read, "BOB'S WIFE"ahhh... That is why am here.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Doesn't it Feel Good?

"Doesn't it feel good to be alive, when you're going somewhere."-Colin HayThat is from a song called "going somewhere" by Colin Hay(lead singer of Men @ Work). I love that song and love to rock out to it when I am in any mode of transist whether it be by foot, train, marhrutka, bus, or plane.There are sometimes where it does not feel good. Where all I want to do is get to where I'm going and be there. Several bad rides I have had before are:When our van broke down in Alabama and Diane and I had to hitchhike to the nearest town to call a tow truck. The man who picked us up had a couple guns in the truck and was rockin' an NRA sticker. (That wasn't bad, as weird and uncomfortable)There was the time in Africa where there were six of us girls crammed into the car that was swerving and bobbing on the slick muddy roads, through the rain as we went higher up the mountain. I holding my friend Grace on my lap while the driver explained that the lake we were driving next to was the third deepest lake in the world. I screamed out, "Oh, good they won't be able to find the bodies!!"Even here there was once a ride I thought was as bad as I would encounter in this country. Lydia and I were on our way back from guesting and had three gentlemen get into the marshrutka with us. One brought on a full gas tank. Another a bottle of homemade alchohal(read: moonshine). Last gentleman started smoking out the crack of a window. With all these elimanants on the Marshrutka I wanted it to go very fast, but at the same time very, very gently. This past weekend topped them all. I was going out to Cholpon Ata to visit some other volunteers. A trip that should have taken less than three hours. It took over nine in the end. I had to go out to the city of Tokmok. From there I was suppose to easily catch a bus out to Cholpon Ata. I had just missed a bus by a couple minutes, so I had to stand around for another hour. Then when one did come I got on but a couple minutes later they pushed me and an old lady(the only other white person, don't know if it means anything, but I noticed) off the bus and said they couldn't take us. We talked for a little bit neither of us knowing why we had been pushed off.It was getting late and I didn't want to be arriving too late, so I started talking to taxi drivers. They wanted way too much money and there were no other people interested in sharing a cab with me. After over an hour of stopping as many cars as I could that went by and them telling me they weren't heading that way(even though it is the only way to head out of there) I eventually got a marshrutka to stop that was carrying packages out to Kara Kol. He said he could take me because he was going to have to be driving through Cholpon Ata anyway. I agreed to 150 som, more than I should have paid, because I was tired and figured it would be faster than a bus... if I ever did get one. We went along well enough at first but then it seemed he had to stop for EVERYTHING. I decided to ignore it and read my book I had brought along. The mountain pass was was really pretty with a fresh coat of snow, which ment we had to drive even slower for "safety". We did get stopped at a check point and the driver paid the bride, errr... I mean toll. Then drove a 100 yards , stopped, talked on his phone and told me to get out. I refused at first. Then I got out to figure out why he wanted me out. He said that he had a buddy coming with a bus who would pick me up. I was yelling, "No! No! I won't buy! I won't buy!" I couldn't think of the word for pay and buy came off the tip of my tongue. "No, I bought you! I bought you! I'm not buying him!" "yes, yes, yes." The man nodded his head and jump into his Marshrutka and drove off, much quicker than he had ever gone with me. So there I was in the middle of no where, literally. No cities, villages, or yurts for miles. Shivering in the cold of the fresh snow and wind of the mountains. Just praying that there would, for real, be a bus. Eventually, and there needs to be an understanding eventually...eventually... I was there for a very long time by myself. Again, the bus started out just fine and I was pretty happy and content and even became optimistic once again. That was beaten out of me. the bus broke down for a while and once they got it going they couldn't get the door to shut. I was sitting near the door. I sat there pressing my bad ear into my shoulder hoping I wouldn't get sick again, since my host mama doesn't like me going to these cold places where I can get sick. After about 45 minutes they did get the door to shut.I had told them to drop me off at the center of Cholpon Ata figuring I would be able to locate something from there, where Lydia could pick me up. We again broke down on the outskirts of the town. I sat there watching Little Man in Russian, being very patient knowing I couldn't change the situation by getting frustrated. Once it started back up they drove a little bit and told me this was the center. I had been to Cholpon Ata before, I didn't recognize anything. Mostly because there was nothing near mean to recognize. I said this isn't the center, they insisted this is where I was suppose to get off.I started walking and frantically texting Lydia to come and find me. After walking at a very quick pace, for 45 minutes I started to recognize stuff. Lydia kept sending me texts saying that there was no way I was dropped off at the center since she couldn't find me. A fact that I was very well aware of. I eventually saw a tall girl walk past in the shadows and took a chance and yelled, "Lydia!" Sure enough it was her. Thank you lord! She took me back to the cafe she and other volunteers were eating at and I tried to explain why I was so late and had missed half the party, through my chattering teeth.Doesn't it feel good to be alive...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Another first

It is weird when another first in your life has come and gone. Last week a first I was terrified happened, I survived my first earthquake. It wasn't long, I think I was mostly freaked out because the "heater" and the lights went crazy. I kept yelling at my students, "What is this? Is this an Earthquake? OMG What do we do?" In English. When it stopped I got my act together enough to evacuate my students out of the building like I was suppose to and my students had fun acting out my terror for all the other students. Glad to ahve gotten that first out of the way but I don't want to do it again!

Monday, November 6, 2006


My group that I got sworn in with as a Peace Corps Volunteer has lost two volunteers since we have been sworn in. The first girl we lost 4 days after going to our permanent sites. She said that she would rather be in Indian than here. It is the wording of that that made us realize there was no way we could talk her out of it. She would rather be in INDIANA. If you ever say to yourself that you would rather be in Indiana then where ever you currently are, then leave, because you must be really unhappy. Our other girl we lost was medical. She can come back and we are all hoping and praying she gets healthy.I asked another volunteer if there would be any reason she would go home early and she replied, “Wendy’s Big Bacon Cheeseburger, Biggie Fires, and a Frosty” I started salivating… The thing is I have found lots of foods that I like here. My absolute favorite is Lagman. It is pasta with peppers, tomatoes, carrots, some green thing that I can’t remember its name. Oh, very tasty. The few times I have gone to a café it is what I order. There are also lost of different kinds of dumplings. My host mama has been making Lapsha a lot which is like chicken noodle soup. Put a little black pepper in it and you are in business. Pieroshki is always good it is fried bread with either potatoes, apples (if I’m around and helping cook), or pumpkin. If I’m rollin’ in Bishkek I might stop in and get a Gamburger. You would think it would be similar to a hamburger but it really isn’t. It is on a hamburger bun but then on top it has Gyro meat, mayo, ketchup, cucumbers, and cabbage. Overall there is lots of food to be had, although the other day we got some American Newspapers and in them were ads for Pizza Hut. I don’t even like Pizza Hut, but oh, how I pray sometimes that Kyrgyzstan will change its policies and let in American Restaurants. If they do I’m getting an Egg McMuffin, Jalapeño Poppers, and finishing with a Frosty.