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Settling into Lerik

So it’s been a while since I last updated this blog.  I hope you all forgive me, but my new town doesn’t have a real internet club… it’s just a room in a decrepit old building where boys will gather to play video games and the sign painted onto the side of the wall says “internet club.”  The “internet club” has no internet but it does have a PS3 or two!  Good to know in case I ever want to play a video game. Not.  Since I don’t have internet, and the best that I could hope for right now is dial up, I probably won’t be updating this as much as I’d like.

Anyways, I’ve been in Lerik for about 3 weeks now, and let me just say that this town is GORGEOUS.  I live up in the mountains, and my house is on top of a hill!! That means I have to walk up and down either a baj-illion stairs, or walk up ridiculously steep hills to get to and from school, and basically anywhere else I want to go… my calves are going to be so damn big at the end of two years!  I guess I really can’t complain much, since that’s about the only form of exercise I have.  I’m going to climb my way back into a size _ (that’s one of my new year’s resolutions)!! Since I’m all the way on top, the view from my house is amazing.  I’m surrounded on all sides by snow capped mountains, and when I walk to school in the morning, the sun rising up from behind the peaks casts a red-ish/pink-ish glow in the sky.  It’s SO pretty, it makes me feel a little better in the mornings when I’m walking to school.

My school is one of the new ones in town.  It was built a year or two ago… in just 3 months!! Yes, you read correctly, the entire school was built in only 3 months.  While it is a very nice looking school, chunks of the ceiling have already fallen off in some of the rooms.  I was told we occasionally get earthquakes here too.  Let’s all pray that the next two years are earthquake free.  Please.  My school’s director is an awesome lady.  She speaks great English and is really enthusiastic about having me here.  The teachers that I have to work with are all really sweet too, so I have nothing to complain about regarding school.

My host mom is such a sweet lady.  She reminds me a lot of my own mom back at home.  At night she cuts fruit for me, something my own mother did a lot back when I was home.  She even bakes bread.  FRESH BAKED BREAD IS SO HARD TO RESIST.  That’s the one thing I’ll never get tired of.  There’s nothing better than breaking off a piece of bread, fresh out of the oven, with that nice crispy outside and hot, soft inside. Say it with me, YUMMM!  I hope to be able to bake my own bread at home when I get back… but it’s such a pain in the ass.  Making the dough is so hard, so much kneading involved.  She also bakes cakes, which may or may not be a good thing.  While it tastes really good… it’s probably the last thing I ought to be eating.

With my new host family, I HAVE MY OWN BED! No more sleeping on the couch for this girl!  My room is super comfortable and is just the right size.  Although I still don’t have a closet, I don’t mind living out of my bags… that just means I have less to pack up later!  I have a wood burning stove in my room to heat up my room at night.  It’s so cozy and I love falling asleep to the sound of the fire burning and the wood crackling, it’s like my lullaby.  My host mom has a gas burning stove in her room.  It’s scary because almost every night, there’s a news story on tv saying how an entire family was wiped out by a gas stove exploding…

my gas petch.

I literally go to sleep every night praying that I don’t die in my sleep because our, or our neighbors’, gas stove exploded.  The last thing I want is to wake up in my sleep to a burning apartment.  I’m also getting used to/prefer the squat toilet, and my little outhouse is starting to grow on me.  I’ve come to realize just how lucky I am that my bathroom is just around the corner from my house, because I’ve seen how much worse it could be.  A lot of people have to actually walk a few yards from their house to go to the bathroom, or its way out of the way, and there is no light so in the dark at night you’re basically screwed.  This town and it’s people are starting to grow on me.

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New Address!

PCV Jessica Koh
Sülh Korpusu
Mərkəzi Poçt
AZ 4300
Lerik, Azerbaycan
AZERBAIJAN

For the next two years, I will be living in Lerik, which is a region all the way down in southern Azerbaijan.  My town is up in the Talish Mountains, which borders Iran.  For more information, go to http://www.mct.gov.az/?/en/cities/view/265.

Lerik is the region colored in Red!

Now, if any of you are interested in sending me a package, here is what I would like.

Sriracha Sauce

and

taco seasoning! so i can make "burritos" using taco flavored lentils as a filler since i can't afford meat.

anything else you kind people would like to send me would also be just as equally appreciated.  I would also LOVE to receive letters from you people that i call  FRIENDS (get on it folks!) back at home 😀

I miss you all and once I get to site, I’ll have a ton of more stuff to write about here.  Until then, tootles!

thanksgiving.

This thanksgiving was our first thanksgiving in Azerbaijan… it’s crazy how the AZ7’s will be spending the next 3 Thanksgivings here.  Although the comforts of an American kitchen were no longer available to us, my cluster was able to cook up a pretty damn good Thanksgiving dinner complete with a turkey (as fresh as you can get it), mashed potatoes, stuffing, veggies, macaroni and cheese, and TWO kinds of pies both apple and pumpkin.   Jason did all the cooking and bailey baked the pies with help from Jessi and myself 🙂
This Thanksgiving really made me realize all the things that I’m thankful for.  The fact that I won’t be home for the next 2 years might have a lot to do with it, but nevertheless, I’m thankful for all my family and friends – both old and new!, the opportunity to volunteer with the peace corps in a country that I might otherwise never have come to, for all my future experiences, and anything else that life decides to throw my way.

*on a side note, i had no idea that turkeys bled so damn much!! the chickens barely bled, but when i saw pictures of the blood spray that came out of the turkey we killed… good god!

Now, time for some pictures!

thanksgiving was a bad day for one of these gobble gobblers.

the turkey before.

the turkey after.

the table spread

All in all, Thanksgiving was a huge success!  I felt like my stomach was going to pop after eating all those delicious foods :] there are more photos on facebook!

my bedroom.

IMG_0866

my bed.

site visit

i know this post is long overdue, but last week was my site visit to Mingecevir (spelling?). 

Mingo is the 4th largest city in Azerbaijan.  I feel that it has a certain charm to it that Sumqayit lacks.  If I were to compare it to a place back at home, I’d have to say it feels a lot like Bayside in a way.  I also got to meet all the great volunteers living there.  The four of them showed us an awesome time while we were in their city, showing us around, making us dinner, and baking desserts like apple pie and brownies for us!!! 

I also got a small taste of what the life of a volunteer once they get placed in their permanent site is like, accompanying her to her classes and conversation club which helped in that now, I sorta know what to expect. 

I still have no idea where i’d like to be placed for my permanent site.  Would i prefer the north, south, east or west of the country?  Up in the mountains, or down south near Iran?  Warm or cold, urban or rural?  I honestly dont think i have a preference… as long as i have at LEAST one site mate withint a 20 min walking distance… i guess i’ll just have to wait and see what december brings.

so, i’ve been extremely lazy with updating my blog.  its been about 2 weeks since i’ve arrived in this country, and almost a week since i’ve been living with my PST (pre-service training) host family.  My host family’s pretty awesome, i have a dad thats a barber, a mom thats a doctor, and a 21 year old brother thats about to get married realllll soon.  they’re all really niceand live in a pretty sweet house, so i’m living the good life here so far lol. 

I have language lessons everyday mon-sat for 4 hours everyday.  azerbaijani is pretty hard, my brain is literally hurting from trying to process and string together words into a coherent sentence!  On thursday, we got locked into our classroom for a good half hour.  Our LCF had to ask a random stranger passing by the school from our second floor classroom, and when help finally arrived we had to wait for them to break open our classroom door to get us out.

Now for the food.  The food is pretty good here.  My favorite so far had to be this ground chicken mixture wrapped in this thin egg pancake thingy.  its SO good, and they have fried potatoes which i LOVE.  the only thing is, my host family keeps trying to feed me even though i tell them that i’m full.  i’m gonna get so fat here 😦

and i also miss everyone back at home.  i’ve made some great friends here, but i still get pangs of homesickness every now and then and it’ll hit me out of nowhere… and i miss spicey food.  i want a huge bottle of sriracha sauce shipped to me! and i miss korean food, i would like to also have nam oh jung (the restaurant) packed and shipped to me.

PCT Jessica Koh
Peace Corps. Azerbaijan
SUMGAYIT, şǝhǝri
Azerbaycen pr. 15
Mǝrkǝzi poçt
AZERBAIJAN