The beach

Happy Birthday Cameron. Sorry I was two days late on the email. I know, results, not excuses. So I won’t say that it was just too difficult to get to the Internet. Because it wasn’t. But I didn’t. Don’t say could not, after all.

Tamchy is a small town on the shores of a big lake. Issyk-Kul. Very small, in fact. And very high. At 1,800 metres, the highest place I have ever swum. Or sunbathed.

Two streets of houses. Some quiet shops. A main road with a bus stop. And a beach. Endlessly long, about 10 feet wide. Sandy. Clean. With metal umbrellas, a volleyball court on the grass, and a few miscellaneous people enjoying the sunshine. Look north and see the range of 4,000 mountains covered in snow that define the northern edge of the lake. Look behind you and see the mirror image (okay, so not quite so impressive) that make the southern rim. Ideal.

Another great reason to get out of Bishkek is that taxi drivers are more reasonable here. Pay what the locals pay. Negotiate (as opposed to shout and demand) if that price is unclear. I like to negotiate. Smile. Reason. Come up with creative arguments. Even compliments and side-deals (how about 30 and I buy you an ice-cream) are not unheard of.

It is amazing how much energy I get from other people. Even in random (if positive) encounters. It happened just now. I was staying only a day. Now I am staying two. Just like that.

So I am sitting at a table in a cemetery (not entirely sure why there is a table here but I guess if you want to have a long talk with your loved one you are going to need to be comfortable, and maybe bring some food) writing my diary and musing on the state of the world (improving) and my place in it (undefined).

Along come two guys – shepherds without sheep by the look of them.
They approach and say hello. And ask me what I am doing. Fair enough. After all, it is not every day that one sees some nameless foreigner, new in town and sporting an extensive beard, sitting at a table in the local cemetery (where no one of any great note is buried) with a notebook.

I say I am just sitting in the sun, writing my diary. They seem perplexed. Why am I doing this? Why am I here. I am a tourist. Why would a tourist come to Tamchi? One asks if I am a spy. Why he asks is unclear, since what he will do if I say I am is no different to what he will do if I say I am not. Just for interest, I guess he asked.

He nods his head sagely when I say I am not. And nodding, they say farewell and walk on.

But then, I would say that I am not a spy of course, even if I were. Which I am not. But then, I would say that.

So positive energy, just from making me smile at the thought of not being a spy. And those two gentlemen will never know that as a result of them I will spend another 24 hours in Tamchi.