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Miguel Mateos Munoz from Spain enjoys national dishes of Kyrgyzstan

Miguel Mateos Munoz arrived in Kyrgyzstan in March 2019. He is from Spain and works as a Chief of Communication at UNICEF. Miguel told 24.kg news agency what he learned in Kyrgyzstan and why Panfilov park is his favorite place.

— What do you like the most about Kyrgyzstan? Do you ever feel homesick?

— Probably my favorite thing in Kyrgyzstan is nature. It is simply breathtaking; this is probably the most beautiful country I have ever been to in terms of landscapes.

I truly appreciate a lot how welcoming and warm people are in the country.

Miguel Mateos Munoz

I think that helps me to feel less homesick, but of course I still miss my family and friends in Spain and try to keep them present with pictures and the food I bring from Spain every time I visit.

— How are you dealing with these crazy times? What are your thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic?

— I am trying to cope with the situation as everyone else. This is something new for pretty much all of us and we are learning how to deal with it as we move ahead. I have learnt a lot by looking at my country, Spain, which has gone through one of the longest lockdowns in the world, and my main worry is how this situation may impact children.

Kyrgyzstan has done an effort on remote learning to ensure every child continues to receive education and I think it is important to continue working on this, with a special focus on vulnerable children which have no access no television or the Internet.

— What is the most surprising thing that happened to you here?

— Before moving to Kyrgyzstan, I had spent short periods of time in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, which prevented me from having big surprises when I moved to Bishkek, but I think my biggest surprise when I moved was how welcome people make you feel in Kyrgyzstan. I have moved a lot in my life, and to feel like at home from day one really helped me to hit the ground running when I arrived.

— What can you say about the Kyrgyz national cuisine?

— I love it! At the beginning it came quite as something new to me, even I had been to the region before, as many traditional dishes and products are quite different to what I am used to, for instance kumys.

But now I truly enjoy food from the region, especially kuurdak and plov. I have not managed to fully enjoy kumys yet... but I am working on it!

Miguel Mateos Munoz

— What do your friends and family think or know about Kyrgyzstan?

— When I moved here, my family and friends knew little about the country and the region, as Central Asia has little relation with Spain, but now I have become an Ambassador of this country when I am back to Europe, inviting everyone to visit and enjoy nature and hospitality of people in Kyrgyzstan.

— What is your favorite place to visit when you have time off?

— Before the pandemic started, I loved to go to discover the country on the weekends and have already visited the 7 Oblasts, finding some of my favorite spots in the country, like Burana Tower or Chon-Alai region. When I am in Bishkek, I love to go to Panfilov park. It has a beautiful vibe, and I am in love with the views from the Ferris wheel!

— Do you plan to stay in Kyrgyzstan for much longer? What are your plans for the future?

— I really enjoy contributing to the wellbeing of children in Kyrgyzstan and have no plans to leave the country for the time being. Due to the nature of our work, we are supposed to relocate after a few years, but it is hard to know where my career will be leading me next. What I know for sure is that I will get the best out of my time in Kyrgyzstan and that I have learnt a lot by looking at how this country has moved forward since independence.