Things I’m Thankful For

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Blessings are easily taken for granted. As we prepare to celebrate our 2nd Thanksgiving in Central Asia, here are some things that we are grateful for:

 

  1. Coffee. When we were preparing to move here, we were warned that coffee was non-existent. However, the coffee industry is growing and coffee shops are everywhere.
  2. Friends at coffee shops. We study a lot in coffee shops and this has given us a lot of opportunities to make local friends.
  3. Walking. Even though we live in a bigger city, there are a lot of places that I can easily get to by walking. I love walking for exercise but also for the things which I am able to learn on the way.
  4. Ingredients. Even though I have to import major things like vanilla and adobo chilis, a lot of ingredients can be found, even if not in the normal places you would expect.
  5. People. Everyone, strangers included, want to help. Whether that is finding a taxi, carrying something heavy or translating someone, we are never without the help that we need.
  6. Electricity. There are many places in Central Asia without regular or reliable electricity. While ours does get shut off occasionally, I can depend on having it more often than not.
  7. New Year. They celebrate New Year’s like Christmas here, so even though it is a week late, I can still enjoy the Holiday Spirit.
  8. Produce. As long as it is in season, produce is cheap!
  9. My freezer. For the times when produce isn’t in season, I love having my deep freeze.
  10. Seasons. It is hot in the summer. Leaves fall in the autumn. Rain comes in the spring, and it occasionally snows in the winter.

Lesson Learned: Be grateful for what you have and where you are. We have more than we deserve. 

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Ticket to Ride

Central Asia, for better or worse, still clings to some of its Soviet ways. One of the ways I see this is through their heavy reliance on train travel. Before coming to CA, I can remember traveling by train 2 times in my 30 years of life, but in one year in Central Asia I have easily tripled that. Train travel is cost-effective and the best part, I don’t usually get motion sickness (like I do from other modes of transportation).

This Soviet method of transportation is kept even more Soviet because they still use the same trains that were used before the Cold War. But every now and again, you get lucky and they throw a new train on the tracks. Recently, we got to ride in one of the new ones, and we were pleasantly surprised. We had a cozy cabin with its own bathroom and shower. And let me tell you, normally, the worst part of train travel is definitely the toilet. When you push a lever to flush the toilet and you can see the tracks, you know that you are using an antiquated system. But… in our cozy cabin with a comfortable and clean bathroom, we had a great time and enjoyed the ride.

Lesson Learned: Set your expectations low so that when you come across a good train, you see it for the blessing that it is.