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.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Women's Day

International Women’s Day. It isn’t a big holiday in America because we have mother’s day. However, in Kyrgyzstan it is a BIG holiday. And let’s just say as a woman I kicked it! It was also my counterparts birthday, and she is awesome so we had to have a big party.The 7th was when the teachers rocked out. There are no male teachers at my school so the women through their own party. First, at the school we had a concert and my students gave me cards, candy, flowers, and a little angel figurine(very me :P). After the concert the teachers thought all the students were gone and were joking around saying, “We got wine and there are no students or men are coming along! So, We are going to drink and PARTY and be loud and stay out all night!!!”(we stayed out till 4 when the pay checks came in) What they didn’t realize was to male students were still in the room taking care of audio equiptment and they were mortified.The Physical education teacher at my school also gave me a Russian Language book for beginners. She kept putting a lot of emphasis on the Beginners part. I kept nodding acknowledging that I know I don’t speak very good Russian.At the party in the café we ate so much. I was bit over joined at the abundance of cheese, which I can’t afford. I kept whispering to myself, oh, sweet, sweet calcium. Also, when I took a little bread, with a piece of kalbasa, and some cheese… having a psuedo-sandwich and getting protien and calcium at the same time. It was too good to be true.We sat around singing old Russian songs. I’m currently trying to learn two. We danced to Russian techno and there were only 3 songs on the play so we heard the songs 4 or 5 times a piece. There were some soldiers who danced with us for a while. They ended up buying us women a bottle of champagne to celebrate with. In my mind you sit around and enjoy champagne but we had to take it as shots. They also made me sing a song in English. I went with I just called to say I love you, by Stevie Wonder. It’s easy and for some reason they all know it. They also made me stand up and give a toast so that teachers who didn’t know me could get to know me a little bit. My counterpart told me I could give it in English and she could translate if need be. I didn’t want everyone thinking I couldn’t speak any Russian and also didn’t want to give a bad toast, so I might… MIGHT have spoke a little long. For some reason even though I know very little Russian I know a lot of toasts and congradulatory phrases. So, I just kept talking. Fortunately I proved that, yes I do in fact know some Russian and it is alright to talk to me in Russian, versus chopped up English.Later that night Svetlana(my counterpart) took me to a concert. It was mostly in Russian but a little bit was in Kyrgyz and Ukrainian. When the Ukrainian part came up I was like dang I don’t understand anything. Fortunately, Svetlana calmed my nerves by leaning over and telling me that it was in Ukrainian.The next day actually on the eigth we had a party at Svetlana’s it was women’s day/her birthday party. She invited another volunteer, Rick, from a near by village to rock out with us too. There was sooooooo much food. All Rick and I could keep saying was I’m so full, I’m so happy, mmmm, ahhh I guess I’ll have one more plate full. I have already written to Max after Man’s day about the dish she made for us(he is the only one that regularly asks about the food) it was Scalloped potatoes with cheese and pork. On Man’s Day I ate about half the tray this time with Rick there to compete I got a little less. But she also made us Bish Bermak, because I ahd told her that I didn’t know what it is. It is a Tradtional Kyrgyz meal that has noodles and normally Mutton(she made it with beef). It’s literal translation is five fingers. Your suppose to eat it with your hands, but since we were in a Russian home we dished it out with a spatula and ate it with forks. We also had a cake that had like Grahmam Cracker layers, it was amazing!Mixed in with the eating was a good bit of Kareoke and dancing. On Man’s day I had to sing all the songs on the English Kareoke CD by myself. It was nice because this time I could pawn off some of the songs onto Rick. I did an amazing back up to his Losing My Religion and Hotel California. However, when I tried to help with My Father’s Eyes Rick yelled(put southern drawl on it) “Carol be QUIET! I’m singing like ERIC CLAPTON RIGHT NOW!!!!” I had to reliquish myself to back up dancer. When my turn came to sing like Whitney Houston and belt out some I Will Always Love You, Rick and Sasha(Svetlana’s husband) did not settle for being backup singers. Even though I had a microphone I could not overpower them. I got my turn later when I made them sit through Hello, Dolly and they didn’t know all any of the words. Sasha and Rick were readily best friends despite the fact that Rick, though he speaks it perfectly, he only speaks Kyrgyz. Sasha being Siberian, only speaks Russian. Although they all did force Rick to sing a couple songs on the Russian CD despite, him not knowing any of the songs.Overall it was a great time. Can’t wait for women’s day next year.Spraz-nikam.