WEEK 15: Ili River sing-along

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ili 4Once, in a blog post long ago, I compared life in the Foreign Service to life after the zombie apocalypse: you’re thrown headlong into an entirely new way of living, you’re expected to place extreme trust in—and reveal a great deal of vulnerability to—complete strangers, and you become intimately familiar with the basics of (and sometimes lack of) humanity’s achievements—clean water, electricity, modern medicine, etc.

But at least there aren’t zombies in the Foreign Service, right?

Something else that feels like life after the zombie apocalypse is camping in Kazakhstan. But I mean this in the toughest, proudest, most gloriously self-sufficient way possible. Camping in Kazakhstan is an exercise in survival.

No kidding.

Camping in Kazakhstan means teamwork, organization, preparation. It is understanding the necessity of the just-in-case item. It means bringing everything with you, including water and wood, garbage bags, headlamps and rain gear, rope (which can be a clothesline, a wood-draggin’ rope, or used to create a sun-shelter, among other things), aluminum foil, toilet paper, dish soap, gauze and ace bandages…I could go on. And on.

But Sam and I didn’t learn all of this overnight. In fact, it’s taken nearly our entire two years in Kazakhstan (and a well-loved REI membership) to learn to be truly self-sufficient. True survivalists. Which means we can confidently share our love for the outdoors with others. We can be the pack-leaders, the providers, the fire-builders. We can lay down the framework for a camping adventure that is perfectly embellished with country music, cornhole, whiskey, guitar-harmonica-sing-alongs—and forgetting for whole hours at a time that we’re not in America

{Above: I’ve broken my own rule to publish just one photo per blog post. There were just too many pretty spring photos of our Ili River camping trip to pick just one.}

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