Stuff and Things!

A Foreign Service lesson we’re learning: in this life, you cast away mostly everything you rely on, everything which gives your life comfort and regularity, then you slowly get it back.

When we got here to Kyrgyzstan (I love spelling it correctly without any effort now), it felt like being washed ashore after a shipwreck, battered and bedraggled.

We had shelter. Thanks to our kind “social sponsors,” we had a meal or two in the fridge, plates and cups, and spotty wi-fi. We had too many suitcases filled with suddenly too few comforts.

We didn’t have: transportation; knowledge of where we were in relation grocery stores, school, or work; ability to communicate with locals; or anything familiar to ground ourselves.

We’ve gradually filled in the gaps. For example, transportation went through stages like this:

  • Stage 0: no transportation
  • Stage 1: Taxi apps, the embassy motor pool, a borrowed bike
  • Stage 2: hire a local driver/translator, buy a bike
  • Stage 3: Our vehicle will arrive (est. Spring ’23)

Moving up a stage feels like a revelation, whether in transportation, or getting a local SIM card, or getting to and from the grocery store without help. Continuing the shipwreck theme, it’s like in that excellent Tom Hanks movie, Castaway, where he makes fire for the first time:

That’s just how Jen shouted when she first brought home bags of groceries from the big grocery store. “MIIIIIIILK! MIIIIIIIIILK! I! ME! HAVE BROUGHT HOME MILK! LOOK AT WHAT I HAVE DONE FOR OUR FAMILY!”

We’ve been in country for 6 weeks now, and we’ve hit a major milestone: UAB.

Those 3 letters have enormous significance for US diplomats. UAB is the stuff of dreams. UAB is STUFF.

I was raised on Doom and Doom 2, which featured UAC logos throughout.
I keep thinking UAC when I hear UAB.

Unaccompanied Air Baggage. 700 pounds of THINGS that we packed and sent along before we left. Desktop computer! Our own bedding! Winter clothes! An absurd amount of kitchen utensils, more than could ever fit in our 2 drawers! Instant pot! Shoes! Toys! Books!

I’m replaying Riven. The nostalgia is grounding. Me and the kids have also been playing through Horizon, Zero Dawn. It’s fantastic!
The tip of the iceburg… stuff everywhere 🥵
This was *not* UAB. Amazon can get stuff to us faster than the State Department can, so these were new. We let the kids choose their bathroom decor 🐠🐠🐠.

When I left Portland in advance of the family, I took 7 button-up shirts with me. I wore one almost every day for 26 weeks and they were starting to get pretty tired… I didn’t buy more because I already owned more *somewhere* in the world. How refreshing to finally be reunited with MY PENDLETON SHIRTS! Woot woot!

In fact, when we got on this crazy train, it was with the unofficial advice that we should prepare to end up in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet I am writing this from Bishkek while a gentle snow falls outside…

This isn’t even accurate, because each place calls for a different KIND of undies!

…and so immense gratitude goes to… 🥁*drumroll*🥁

My WIFE! JEN! The girl who can miraculously produce groceries, who isn’t intimidated by venturing out into this foreign city with 3 kids in tow, the engineer who can design a Leatherman multitool in the morning and make a pot roast for dinner, JEN! Months ago, when she packed everything (mostly by herself), we expected our future would be all sun and sand dunes, yet she packed winter coats and boots just in case. Where would we be without her foresight? I guess we’d still be here in Bishkek, just frozen! Our kids may be fans of belting out “the cold doesn’t bother me anyway!” in tune with Elsa, but in fact, it does. THANK YOU, JEN!

Work is ever interesting. We’ve been hiking and getting out and brunching with new friends and attending more parties. We made a small trek up the hills to find these noble beasts, which nonchalantly walked away from us every time we got close. Our oldest has attended horse camp, but still was nonplussed when “that horse just tooted at us!”

This one finally got to hike up to see some wild horses!
Sadly, they were less tame-able than Breath of the Wild had led us to believe.

❤️Love from Bishkek!

Every horizontal surface covered in spatulas. Spatulas for days.