The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

July 9, 2006

Local man returns from Kazakhstan


"You have to go to the bathroom in a bucket and get water from a well," he said. "I did have electricity and Internet access, figure that out. Life was very extreme."

City life was very different, though. During his time in the city, Kirby said he took advantage of all the modern conveniences.

Loneliness was the most challenging aspect for Kirby. He had a difficult time making friends in the village, the place he was the most, he said. Fyodorovka has a population of about 5,000, he said.

Kirby said everything in the village was very brick, very industrial looking and very communist.

"During Soviet times, people had things," he said. "When the Soviet Union ended, they didnt."

Kirby said everything is broken and nothing is going to be fixed. Automatic heat is probably what is missed the most, he said. Last January, the temperature did not get above -35 degrees, he said.

Culturally, Kazakhstan is very rich, he said, but very different than America.

Hitch-hiking is a main form of transportation, he said.

"People hitch-hike to work every day," Kirby said.

One of the big differences he noticed is how helpful the people of Kazakhstan are.

"If you ask someone for directions, they will bring you there themselves," he said.

Kirby said Kazaks are big into hunting, but they have to make their own ammunition by hand.

"Most people use guns from Soviet times because new ones are too expensive," he said. "Most people are conservative on ammunition because they have to make it the hard way."

Tea is drank with every meal, he said, often with sour cream in it. Kirby said another thing he had to get used to was everyone puts mayonnaise in their soup.

"I have grown to like it," he said.

Kazakhstan has a lot of camels, he said.

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