Of The Lake, The Sheep, And The Shepherd

This is a story that has been percolating for the past year.

On the left is lake Issyk Kul. On the right flock of sheep graze amongst the sparse grasses. Separating the two is a, faded, two lane blacktop. Faded not by age but by a pervasive layer of dust. The asphalt itself was, actually, laid down around ten years previous, but the dirt makes it look older. In fact the road looks not unlike a discarded snake skin. One that the surrounding land has slowly began to reclaim.
The sheep, meanwhile do not cross the road to drink the water. From the pavement a man, seating on a horse, can be seen. He is the flock’s shepherd. The man looks to be wearing a Kow-Pok -a type of traditional Kyrgyz hat, which is designed to be reminiscent of a dome shaped yurt roof- that has been dirtied by the nature of the shepherd’s work.
While the man, horse, and sheep attend to their respective tasks the waves lap against the pebbly shore. Driven by a chilly, early spring, breeze their impact, against the shore, is more forceful than usual. On this day no fisherman can be seen within site of the shore. Instead there is simply the waves; the wind; as well as the swirling eddies of dust running along the edge of the beach.
If one continues along the road an individual will reach one of two possible destinations. In one direction there lays the capital, Bishkek. If continuing along the lake one will soon began to encounter a series of, increasingly swanky resorts and guesthouses (many of which cater to a steady stream of visitors from Bishkek). In the middle, along this small road there exists, still, a more traditional way of life, which now continues as, almost, as a strange sort of anachronism. On one side of the blacktop stand the shepherd and sheep who live off the land. While on the other, the lake, serves up a watery subsistence. Meanwhile the road sits between the two. An artery in one sense, of the word, yet a wall in another.


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