Upon reaching into my backpack to pay a taxi driver last night, I discovered that my sunscreen tube had popped open and smeared white goop over everything. I don't know if you've ever tried to clean sunscreen off a leather camera case or a felted purse, but it's one of life's mundane tasks. My trusty Macpac will never be the same again.
Taxi drivers in Bishkek, by the way, are expert fleecers. Even if you negotiate a price beforehand, they will often try to extort you. For instance, on Saturday night, a driver tried to charge us an extra 100 som for our luggage, even though he hadn't helped us get it in or out of the car. He also argued (semi-convincingly) that because at one point he'd had to drive down a road that had turned into something like a river, we should pay him still more. However, I had a Swiss German speaker with me, and if you haven't heard the law laid down to a taxi driver by a Swiss German speaker, you've missed out on a deeply satisfying experience.
I'm in my new apartment now, and besides a leaking pipe in the bathroom (which may explain the irate man from downstairs who thumped tenaciously on the door yesterday) it's very comfortable indeed. I'm a bit further out from the centre of the city now, in a region called Восток пять (pronounced Vostok Pyat), or East Five. There's a nice feel about it; there's a communal basketball court (never mind the weeds, cracked concrete and rusty hoops), little magazins scattered about (a magazin is kind of like a corner shop), kids everywhere. Hopefully I can find a decent bazaar close by - will go exploring once I've finished my unpacking.
My mail still goes to the school address. In case you were wondering. Also in case you were wondering, I'm doing fine. Last week's horrid encounter seems like an age ago, and I had some helpful chats with people while I was away at the lake. However, though I haven't yet processed this, I think perhaps a longer lasting effect of it will be my attitude to Kyrgyz men, which is something that I will need to think carefully about since there are still twelve months ahead in which I will need to relate to them a fair bit.
I have a swathe of emails to cut through. I love getting emails, and I love writing replies, but I'm not feeling particularly efficient or articulate right now, so it may be a while before I get to the other side of them.