No movie theaters. No `cool’ places for students to hang out. On Saturday after our jet-lag nap, we walked to the Tarim River with Morielle’s friend Steven. Steven is an English major. His English is very good because he hangs out with foreign teachers instead of going to class! We walked a long time. I had to practice my following skills which was really hard because I was looking and looking: buildings, people, chickens on the path!. Nothing was boring, ever! It was hard for me to look AND keep up. My Mom was not much help because she was taking pictures. My Dad and Steven helped me not get lost.
Then Steven bought a lighter. He wanted to build a fire. Good idea. He must have known I was getting cold! He said Tarim University students like to go to the river, build a fire, make food, hang out, and make their own fun. Steven showed us how to do it and it was easy. Lots of dried sticks and brush along the frozen river made it easy for us to build a nice fire. It was so fun! Steven told stories: Chinese stories and Morielle told Bible stories around the fire. Morielle wants us to send marshmallows, graham crackers and Hershey’s chocolate bars in her Birthday package so that she can make s’mores with her students. Fun!
After the stories, we used the sand to put out the fire and then walked home. Morielle’s apartment was nice and warm. It gets very cold at night in Ala’er because it is in the desert. While we waited for supper Steven, mom and I played The Cat and Dog game! It was easy because we had only three players; I knew Steven very well because of our nice long walk; and his English is very good.
The next time we played The Cat and Dog game my Mom thought I had completely forgotten how to play. It was not that I did not know how to play the game but I did not know the new friends: Morwangul, Amina, Zunabu. I thought they all looked the same; I did not know their names; and they were always talking Uyghur helping each other with their English vocabulary: dog, running, newspaper, mouth. I was enjoying getting to know Uyghur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz friends that I was completely confused about the game.
My Mom asked them to write down their names. They asked us to write down our names too: so many new people! I heard Zunabu ask for the card with the dog and the newspaper but when it was my turn I asked Morwangul for that card because her name was first on the list. Fortunately Zunabu was confused too so when it was her turn, she forgot to ask me for the card. I had another chance. This time I asked Amina for it: No, she did not have it. Then Zunabu asked me for it and she got it! We all laughed it was very funny.