Better late than never, right? Here comes a short story about my Christmas Eve in Kyzart and a bit longer story about my New Year’s Eve in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan.
During Christmas I was still living with a local Muslim family in the mountain village called Kyzart. December 24th turned out to be sunny, the temperature was around -5 degrees [Celsius] and the so called Christmas feeling inside me was unbelievable high [0% to be exact]. According to my family’s beliefs they don’t celebrate Christmas, so we all had a nice normal day. I woke up, received some cute messages from my friends and family, had a nice long walk in the mountains and went to sleep. Oh, I also had a not-so-everyday-conversation with my host mum.
Madle: You know, today is one of the biggest holidays in Estonia. Look, my family sent me a photo of our Christmas tree!
Mira: I see… They must miss you. [keep washing dishes]
I spent my New Year’s Eve in the city called Karakol [altitude: 1770 meters], which is the fourth biggest city in Kyrgyzstan, located just 150 km from Chinese border.
During the daytime I decided to go to a cafe to have a coffee and use Internet. I took the first sip of my drink when one local guy turned to me: „Hey, you must be Madlena from Estonia, am I right?“. I felt a bit shocked as I didn’t expect that I’m already famous in the city. It turned out that he somehow recognized me because of the CouchSurfing webpage. I quickly realized he was The Living Wikipedia of Karakol – besides the knowledge of the history of the city and other facts I got to know that New Year’s fireworks starts at 10 pm [but no, it’s not gonna last 2 hours]. I soon went back to my hostel with this precious information and as we were waiting for the evening together with some travelers from England, we prepared some mulled wine.
Some minutes before 10 pm we rushed out from our hostel [I’m always late when it comes to fireworks – luckily it was Kyrgyz time] and walked to the main square. It was a bit crisp and while waiting for the show we made a lot of photos together with curious locals and a beautiful Christmas tree. Some minutes after 10 we enjoyed a bit clumsy fireworks which actually suited very well with the cool vibe surrounding us. Time passed fast and suddenly we found ourselves standing almost alone on the vast square. All the locals were gone to their homes to celebrate the holiday with their families! We then decided that well, we can go to the cafe and eat some potato salad [so Estonian, oh yeah!] until New Year takes over. We surprisingly managed to be back on the main square even some minutes before midnight but…. – we still continued to be those weird hopeful tourists, hanging around with a few little kids shooting their rockets meant under 12 years old.
After a while we decided to go to a pub to say „Cheers!“ to 2018. We did some walk here and there and after consulting with the locals [„Are there any pubs opened nearby?“ – „Eeee….Hmmm…Ummm…Yes, maybe…This way?“] we understood that all the places were closed. So instead we bought a bottle of wine and watched a movie at the hostel. I’m not joking when I say that it was one of the greatest New Year celebrations I have ever had!