In 1997 I undertook an expedition to collect walnut seeds from the wild walnut-fruit forests of Kyrgyzstan.

Journal entry: Saturday 3rd October 1997

Just as we thought things were going very well – last night we were told that our hosts needed to make a phone call.  Ordinarily this would not be a major event but here at Gava, this means a round trip to the nearest phone that will take at least six hours!  Peter and I asked if we could work alone in the forest but our hosts are nervous of us being unaccompanied, so we stayed at the farmstead.

Rahmonali asleep on the soro
Rahmonali asleep on the soro. The bucket is full of freshly-picked apples from the orchard.

At least this gave me time to catch up with some more data entry, and I wrote a good part of my report for the Royal Forestry Society (one of my sponsors).  I had plenty of ‘help’ from Mamajan’s grandson Rahmonali, who seems to have taken a liking to me today.   We sat on the soro [an outside area used for eating, resting and sleeping outside in the summer] and I read all my books with pictures for him until he fell asleep at my feet.  The complete language barrier didn’t stop us having a good time together.

We were fed fried potatoes and an egg each for lunch; a real treat.  Apparently I have been referring constantly to food over the last few days.  For some reason, coffee and jam doughnuts seem especially appealing.  I think that our eggs today were as a result of a casual remark I made a few days ago, about whether they eat eggs and that I liked them.  Our hosts try really hard to look after us.

We have one more day collecting seed here before we leave Gava for Sary-Chelek.  Apparently all arrangements have been made for our transport to Bishkek on the 8th October.  Other news: we were told today that in fact the clocks have not change afterall (see  previous post)- so we’ve just lost an hour!  I was just beginning to get used to waking naturally at the right hour.

Gabriel Hemery

Read more from my Kyrgyzstan walnut journal

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