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Tylla Halley has lived in Talas region for 16 months, but still taken as tourist

Tylla Halley is Peace Corps Volunteer from Shreveport, Louisiana (USA). She came to Kyrgyzstan in June 2016. Tylla teaches English through formal lessons, clubs, camps and extracurricular activities in Kara-Buura village of Talas region.

I decided to come to Kyrgyzstan because this was a part of the world I did not know anything about. I thought it would be an adventure!

Tylla Halley

-What surprises you in Kyrgyzstan?

— It really surprises me how in summer many families pack their things and move to jailoo to live in yurts and watch over their animals. I love how Kyrgyz people honor their culture and traditions. It is also really funny to watch people in my village text on their phones while riding their horses or donkeys.

— What reminds you of your hometown in Bishkek?

— Bishkek Park and Asia Mall remind me of the shopping malls in my hometown. I think it is really cool how in both Kyrgyzstan and America malls are places where teenagers go to walk around and hang out with their friends. Sierra Coffee also reminds me of coffee shops in my hometown. It is a nice place, with a great environment, to spend the day reading a book.

— What will you miss having returned home from Kyrgyzstan?

-When I return to America I will miss my Kyrgyz families. I have lived with three different families so far. I will also miss Kyrgyzstan’s nature. I have hiked many times in every region except Batken and Naryn.

I have been on Bishkek — Osh road 20+ times and I am always amazed by the beauty of Kyrgyzstan. I don’t want to fall asleep in the car because I am afraid I will miss seeing the mountains.

Tylla Halley

-What is your favorite place in Bishkek?

-I love the whole city. When I come into Bishkek from Talas I love to walk everywhere instead of taking marshrutkas, especially in the summer. There are always new stores and cafes open in Bishkek so there is always something to do.

My favorite place in the city is the rooftop of the Ak Keme Hotel. In the summer, you can see all of Bishkek from the rooftop. You can see both the city and the mountains. It is beautiful, like seeing two worlds combine.

Tylla Halley

-What do you like in the national cuisine and what are you afraid to try?

-My favorite Kyrgyz foods are manty and oromo. My favorite time to eat them is in autumn during pumpkin season. They become both sweet and savory when you add pumpkin to the recipe. I also love to drink bozo. My neighbor gives homemade bozo to my family twice a week!

I am afraid to try sheep eyes! I feel like I have eaten every other part of the sheep except it’s eyes. Maybe I will try an eye or two in 2018.

Tylla Halley

-What has fascinated and disappointed you in close acquaintance with the local population?

— I find going to the banya really fascinating. I thought going to the banya was only about cleaning your body, but I quickly realized that it is more about socializing and relaxing.

I have lived in my village for 16 months and it still disappoints me when people call me a tourist. I consider my village my home and when people say this to me I don’t feel like it is my home anymore.

Tylla Halley