Outside Bishkek, the roads are mostly gravel, usually two lanes, sometimes one. Our Land Cruiser eats them up and we arrive at our Kochkor Village guest house to a warm greeting and hot tea. The remarkable thing I have found about these remote villages is that you cannot judge the interior of a home by the exterior. In this case a single lane paved road led to a deeply pockmarked dirt road off the main highway into a neighborhood of low houses with flat fronts and small windows. A hole in the wall of one house is plugged poorly with a pillow. Driveways are blocked by solid gates that blend with the house giving them a generic monotone somewhat fortified look. In this case the gate opened onto a courtyard with the home surrounding two sides. A vegetable garden was off to one side and flowers dotted the yard. The home was spotless, and the wooden floors and walls were covered in carpets of the nomadic and Persian styles.
Prior to dinner, we went to a nomadic felt making demonstration and were welcomed by a lovely woman. I asked her if I could video the demonstration. In response she disappeared only to reappear 15 minutes later in her full tribal regalia, grinning ear to ear. I was expecting to film a ten minute demonstration but after that amount of time had passed she turned on loud rhythmic music and began to dance the “felt making dance.” This lasted another fifteen minutes. As soon as that ended the rest of the family sauntered in wearing traditional costume. They played music known as the “sound of the steppes” and chanted from the national epic poem of Manaz. I watched as a mother taught her toddler in a stroller the hand motions to accompany the dance. The child mirrored them back. The climax of the evening came when an ornately covered box was brought before the musicians. When the cover came off there were two toy goats standing on top. Nothing prepared me for what happened next. The music started and the goats began to dance. What a joyous festival.
We returned to our guest house for a dinner of traditional nomadic food and watermelon.