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If it isn’t the sun it’s the bugs, and if it isn’t the bugs it’s the geese, and if it isn’t the geese its the dogs, and if it isn’t the dogs its my adorable three year-old host sister asking me to wipe her butt prompting me to run to the neighbors . Not that I don’t think that I can’t effectively accomplish the task, it’s just…that job assignment not being officially allotted to me as a young American male,  I’ll avoid the weirdness and child dukey. What I’m trying to say is that sitting down to write is not an easy task in my world at the moment, and I would pay mad money for a laptop with the same kind of screen as my kindle so I could sit outside in the sun.

After almost exactly four weeks of traveling in and out and around and about Kazakhstan, mostly accompanied by my wonderful mother and brother, I’m back home in the village making asphaltic coffee and running through the steppe. The grasses in the prairie have grown higher since I’ve left. I run andthey look like how I’d imagine heaven as the wind moves their golden tops softly back and forth mimicking the patterns of my footfalls. The thistle and other wildflowers are also in bloom, but for me, nothing tops the pungent sage, which shoots me back to Montana, my happy place. After a month of traveling, translating, lsating, med testing, organizing, washing infrequently, busing, and having the time of my life, I have this intense urge to spend a week without moving off our property except to run and find places to read in the wind and sun.

I might write a lot about the trip or I might not, leaning towards not due to the fact that this blog was initially created for my parental tag-team, one member of which being a travel partner does not need to be reaccuainted with the details of her trip, and thus eliminating the need for the other to be informed as well. I’ll list a high, low, and general impression for my own gratification.

High: The Mongolian host-family that we stayed with immediately after the fam arrived and where I worked at a fellow volunteer’s camp in a village near Almaty. They were wonderful people, wonderful hosts, and the best possible way to introduce my family to this country. Second best was hookah and iced coffee dessert at an upscale Almaty coffee shop on DrayMom’s last night in Kazakhstan.

Low: Hard to choose because although the trip was great, there were a couple rough spots. Well, I’ll start with the low for me was driving the porcelain bus (Rick Cousins phraseology) for close to 18 hours after questionable vodka intake and even more questionable karaoke singing. Yeah, add your mom and brother to that mix and it gets beyond cringe inducing and borderline nauseous just to imagine. Moral of the story is that as, unexplainably, even one beer upsets my stomach now, introducing multiple vodka shots on an empty stomach is beyond stupid.

Aaaaaaaanyways, live and learn and all experiences are good experiences right? And all quotes are contradictory, kind of like the biblekorantorahnewagebuddismhindushammanstuff, so we should just pick and choose and live and tell ourselves what we want. I dunno.Traveling on bus, train, and plain during the past few weeks has reminded me of the utter craziness, animalism, and beauty of humanity. We stand up, push each other, bend in uncomfortable positions, and act like children on buses/trains/planes, just to get out a few seconds earlier and get into another line while simultaneously avoiding empty staircases for slow congested elevators/escalators in order to avoid exercise. disgustingly wealthy seventh and eighth grade boys are loud, crazy, and stupid on a bus, reveling in being rich, young, and lacking brain cells, but they’ll also be the first ones to empty their pockets for the begging mother and her small child. Babushkas might look at you funny in your big American backpack, undershirt, and massive novel, but they’ll also buy you food and give you their sweaters when the bus gets cold and your undershirt isn’t warm enough. Rich people can get drunk and stupid and act like cavemen, and poor families can provide dignified and quiet meals that disarm you.

What I’m trying to say is life is crazy, I don’t know anything, sometimes I hate this country and sometimes I love it like my own, which is a qualification in itself, and I guess being on the crazy month-long trip across Kazakhstan reminded me that we just need to stay open to moments and take them as they come. It’s tough, because being here makes me constantly on guard for violence, anger, and staggering displays of kindness all at the same time.

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3 Responses to Home

  1. Mary McCrossan says:

    Thanks for the post, Collin! I haven’t seen your mom yet to hear the details, but it’s good to get the big picture from you. I’m eager to hear more from both of you! Glad to see that you are enjoying the natural beauty of your surroundings. I did the same today as I appreciated one of the most perfect weather days of summer so far!
    Mary

  2. jan Martland says:

    Hi Collin! I loved reading the blog…I went to dinner with the “gang of four” last night and it sounds like your mom and Drayton had an incredible journey as well! Your mom also noted that the Mongolian family and the “hooka” as being highlights…(she didn’t mention the “porcelin bus” however….and as you know, I like to ride that bus backwards sometime ;-)….It sounds like it was a great time all around. Pat is day # 19 in the big “I”…worrisome always. Nick is loving his job at Target….enjoy the beautiful summer weather as we all know what is just around the corner…uuugggghhhhh!
    XOXOX,
    Jan

    • ccousins says:

      hey jan,
      it’s really nice to hear from you. i was thinking about pat a lot lately, especially as one of the new volunteers in my region is a vet from afghanistan. if you have pat’s email, i’d love to shoot him a letter. hope all is well,
      Collin

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