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‘Lightest African’ moves to Bishkek and falls in love with Kyrgyzstan

English language teacher at one of the International Schools of Bishkek Divan Oosthuizen, having heard the stories of his girlfriend about Kyrgyzstan, decided to change his place of residence without any hesitation.

He left work, relatives and friends. He had to give up some hobbies, for example, surfing. Now the guy is missing the waves of raging ocean. And in the winter he categorically lacks the sun, because he came from the tourist city of South Africa — Cape Town.

But Divan is not going to leave Kyrgyzstan so far.

— Divan, I could not even imagine that you are from South Africa...

— I am the lightest African (laughs). I was born in Africa, this is my homeland, but my parents are Europeans. I have the Dutch, German, Irish and French ancestry, in general, almost of all European nationalities.

— Having moved to Kyrgyzstan, did not you regret that believed the girlfriend’s words?

— No, it’s a very beautiful country. At first, of course, it was hard for me: I missed friends, relatives, but now I have got friends and colleagues.

It was difficult to get used to the cold. Compared to Africa, it’s quite cold in autumn and winter here.

Together with my girlfriend we have visited almost all regions of Kyrgyzstan. I like the landscape nature, people in the regions. I think foreigners must visit the regions: the way of life and traditions of the people are preserved only in the villages.

Divan Oosthuizen

I work with children now, I teach them English. I have noticed: local children are very self-motivated, disciplined, and they have a great desire to learn the language. Teacher is not my profession, but I like working with children.

It is picture-perfect for me how the people ride horses, cook dinner over open fire. By the way, I noticed that in Kyrgyzstan pastures are used together: even in villages, on jailoo, cattle are kept outside, without any fences. For example, in Africa, if someone gets into someone’s land, people will come to him with weapons.

— You, apparently, got acquainted well with the rural life...

— Yes, I also like the national games, especially equestrian ones. In Europe, for example, goat dragging game (ulak tartysh) can not be played. There are strict laws.

— Did you try national dishes?

— Of course. There is too much meat and plov is everywhere. When I am asked over, I know that there will definitely be plov. I together with my girlfriend also cook it at home.

— What places do you like to visit in Bishkek?

— I like parks, Botanical garden, Osh bazaar.

Bishkek is unique through its mix of urbanization and history: there are modern buildings and historical architectural objects.

Divan Oosthuizen

In addition, residential single-story houses are built in the center of the city. For example, in Cape Town, it is difficult to find such houses with the yards even outside the city.

— What surprised or disappointed you in close acquaintance with the local residents?

Bishkek residents are unsmiling, impatient. For example, when people stand in line, they push each other, swear. Especially men are intolerant.

Divan Oosthuizen

— In bars, when they drink, they become aggressive, ready to fight. I have noticed that they do not approve communication of local girls with foreigners. Not all of them, of course. As I have already said, we have many hospitable friends.

— What would you change in Bishkek?

— I would like drivers to learn to observe the traffic rules. And the air is polluted because of the large number of transport.

And it would be good to clean the city’s rivers, to prohibit further water pollution. All these canals are used for irrigation, and it turns out that the townspeople eat fruits and vegetables that were watered with polluted water.