KYRGYZSTAN #1: BISHKEK, LEAVING THE IMPERIAL CAPITAL

In Kyrgyzstan, apricot is one of the main fruits of the diet of the Kyrgyz, thousands of them dry in the sun to then make jam. This is eaten daily and it is spread on bread with black sesame seeds.

At our arrival at the Manas Airport in Bishkek around 5 in the morning, taxi drivers give us a warm welcome in a language similar to Russian.
We get into the taxi with two female passengers, and he drives us to our first hotel. That way is noisy, messy and normal.

As we approach the city, the imperial footprint is becoming progressively more and more present. 

Kyrgyzstan was placed under the control of the Soviet Union from 1918 (victory of The Russian Revolution) until its dissolution in 1991. As an imperial capital as it was, the city has well-developed country roads, impressive government buildings and memorials that perpetuate power.

As a result of past events, the Kyrgyz inherited the language from the Russians, which is nowadays the second official language in the country. 
As Aizada Baiushbekova says (the owner of “Baiysh yurt camp” of Song Kul lake) “Kyrgyz is being lost within generations and we have to fight to preserve it”.

In parallel, Mansur Abylaev, president of KATO (Tour operators association in Kirguistán) and CEO of “Baibol Travel” tour operator, he stated that after Soviet Union’s separation, the gap between the countryside, with more developed agriculture, and the city, more industrial, has considerably grown. Nevertheless, he says, “Russians didn’t influence us with their traditions, but they did with globalization”.

The car slows down, and we realize we are in a street market. Even though it is night now, it is possible to distinguish with clarity the van right in front of us, through the back doors we can see animal bodies hanging upside down, it is fresh meat. Women who wear colored tissues sell species, homemade food, fruits, sweets and that tasty and sophisticated bread. Men with toasted cheeks and white hats set the booth. Everything happens while they scream at each other, talk quickly and laugh.

© 2020 by Gisela Sole Marron & Laetitia Daïdé