Sweating Out Fieldwork

After my last post, logistical matters kept me in Bishkek for a few more days, where I crashed with friends KR and CVM, enjoying their hospitality and homemade pizzas. I arrived in Osh three days ago and am staying at a humble and comfortable guesthouse that is part of the Kyrgyz Community Based Tourism Association, a very successful tourism project initiated by Helvetas, a Swiss development NGO.

Since arriving, my adjustment was made smoother due to both the welcome presence of a friend from Bishkek who was here for a few days working on an EU project, and a new contact, EA, that I made through other friends. The new contact is working with the UN on issues that have come to the fore in the wake of the June Events.

Last night, I met up with EA and one of his pals here who has a stall in the local bazaar selling boots. After a few beers, we drove out to the edge of town to a lively chaikhana (teahouse, cafe), and pulled the car around to back. There, we found a private sauna that one can rent by the hour. The three of us proceeded to spend the next few hours alternately sweating out all the toxins of modern Kyrgyz living and watching Russian comedy shows over bowls of green tea. It made be feel like there is more to do in Osh than appears on the surface. Tonight, we may go to a ping-pong parlor, and this week I will visit my new boot selling buddy at his bazaar and learn more about his side of the business.

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