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October 13, 2002

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Kyrgyz villagers spend their day leading the sheep, cows, and horses to pasture, collecting grass for winter, and then bringing the livestock back home. For us it's fun herd a cow on horseback from the fields to the pen. Back in our village the local English teacher avoids talking to us - not wanting to test her English it seems. We drink vodka, make a few toasts, and learn that days weren't so bad under the Soviets. Follow the lead of the Communist official - if he drank vodka then so could you.
This region supports several different ecosystems: desert, semi-desert, steppe, meadow, forest, sub-alpine, and glacial. Running in and out of these areas are Marco Polo sheep, ibex, wild boar, snow leopards, and inexperienced backpacker riders.
Our horses balk and seem to ask, why ride into the mountains?
Here a good horse will only set you back a few hundred dollars, a good felt hat, called a kolpak, costs few dollars.
We visit visit a few families in their yurts, the summer home for many Kyrgyz who bring their livestock into the mountains in search of green pastures.