23
Aug
15

Long time, no update!

I had the best of intentions with keeping this blog, but it’s been hard to follow through. They US Consulate has kept me super busy with projects, meetings, and special presentations to both the general public and to the city government. It’s hard to put into words (or at this point to even process) this experience. I’ll start by showing you some pictures, in the order in which events have happened.

When I first arrived, there was a special reception for me at the Tengri Umai gallery. Here’s an article in Russian about it with photos. I gave a presentation about my art and work to about 40-50 people from the creative community who had come out for the occasion. There was a professional interpreter (who I’m standing next to in the photo below) who has been with me to all my speaking events and government events- he’s incredible. Everything at the event was so nice– clearly a ton of time, effort, and care had been put into everything. They had some delicious sushi and bottles of wine and orange soda. Some of my artwork had been blown up huge- screen printed onto silks and stretched onto a display. The whole experience was totally flattering and surreal–this kind of attention has continued throughout my experience.

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The day after my reception, I was thrilled to be invited to a special celebration by my American friend and his wife (who is Kazakh.) The gathering was to commemorate their son taking his first steps (and also his first birthday.) The party was in a yurt and there was an endless amount of Kazakhstani food (some of which I was able to enjoy- this is a very meat centric culture- but there were some delicious fried bread, cheese, salads, and of course dessert.) The yurt itself was a fascinating place, very cozy and colorful with blankets, rugs, and pillows filling the interior. We sat on the blanket-covered floor and ate at low tables. As the dinner began, the vodka came out and everyone started making toasts to honor the event and to celebrate family. This toasting continued throughout the meal, with everyone in attendance taking turns sharing heartfelt words-myself included. We went outside for the actual ceremony in which a rope (or more traditionally, a piece of intestines!) are wrapped around the child’s feet and are then cut with with a knife by the parents as the child then walks across as piece of fabric on the ground. Candy is thrown in the air and everyone celebrates the first steps. After the ceremony, it was back to the yurt for more food, conversation, and toasts! Many bottles of vodka later, everyone left the celebration happy and full (along with a designated driver.)

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The image above is the top part of the yurt and the criss-cross design is very special and symbolic. You can find this symbol on buildings and architectural elements all around the city, like this:

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The architecture in Almaty is a cool mix of styles- there are ultra sleek, modern skyscrapers as well as buildings left from different Soviet eras. I really love some of the funky older buildings and their odd shapes.

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The name Almaty translates to “the city of Applies” and you can find apple trees everywhere.

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I haven’t taken many pictures of the various projects I’ve been doing (too busy keeping up with giving presentations, working on murals, playing music, researching, trying to breathe!) but here are a few:

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(The initial stages of our first mural based on the fairytale Yer Tostik, the project took a bit longer than expected and we plan to wrap it up this Tuesday, while also working on our 2nd mural, also based on the fairytale.)

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Above is me with a couple musicians I got to”jam” with at a club during the daytime. It was a lot of fun. If we had more time, maybe we’d write a song together. Here’s one of Anzhelika’s videos (she’s the lady on the right): http://vk.com/video3758358_166713130

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Yesterday, I was thrilled to have my first full day off and headed into the nearby mountains! You take a series of gondolas and to reach three different elevations- the highest is around 10,000 feet. This view was from the first level. The second level had a super cute restaurant where I enjoyed some tea and a warm blanket (it was cold and rainy)

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But the highlight was seeing some wild yaks at the very top. There were about 8 of them in a pack, but this guy was clearly the alpha:

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So there’s a quick week’s worth of pictures and captions. I’ll try to update a bit more frequently. I can’t believe my trip’s about halfway through. So much has happened and so much still to come. Hope everything’s well at home with all my family and friends. I miss everyone and am looking forward to sharing more stories soon. Love, Carrie

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1 Response to “Long time, no update!”


  1. August 23, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Cool pics and great experience, Carrie! Don’t worry about keeping up a blog … I never do and when I travel I sure don’t also work! Have fun … say Khazakistan for me since it isn’t likely I’ll get there


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