Sunday, 26 June 2011
On Sunday we went to the beach at Lake Borovoe. The weather was hot and sunny, perfect for the beach. The beach is narrow but long, and it was very crowded. The path to the beach is through a woodsy area, full of mud due to the recent rains.
My friend and I rested and read our books while the girls played. They spent three hours there, perfectly happy and rather upset when we finally said it was time to leave.
I observed the people around us—Kazakh and Russian, old and young, families and friends. Most women wore bikinis, regardless of their body type, the men wore tiny Speedo's or other tight-fitting swimsuits. And very few people were skinny.
Some people smoked. People walked by, selling fish or shashlyk (Kazakh kebab) or other food. The pathway was crowded with walkers and bike riders. In the lake, people swam close to the shore; further out, people were in boats. Borovoe's majestic mountains outlined the lake.
The mountains are most likely just large, steep hills, but still magnificent, and rocky, covered mostly with pine trees but with rocky tops, quite a sight.
Finally we dragged the girls out of the water and went home. After a rest and dinner we went out again. This time we took a taxi into the park, to the monument—a tall pillar with an eagle on top of it. This seems to be a central location in the park.
There were two eagles there, one even had head armor on it. For 300 Tenge we could hold the eagle. We chose the shorter line, with the smaller eagle with no head armor. I think the bird's species is related to the eagle, perhaps not an actual eagle. It was not too big nor too heavy, as I've heard the real Kazakh hunting eagles are.
A boy about Sophia's age put on a large, thick black mitt and picked up the eagle, and then transferred the mitt and eagle over to Sophia. The mitt is needed to protect your skin from its claws. Sophia was quite happy for the few minutes she spent with an eagle on her arm, having her picture taken and passers-by pause and stare.
We walked towards the hilly woods and started to go up. It's a forest of tall, skinny pine trees, golden in the light of the setting sun. They are spaced apart, allowing much room for roaming and wandering. The girls ran ahead and had to be warned to stay within sight.
Soon the way got steeper and rockier. We found ourselves scrambling up rocks, out of breath, attempting to keep up with Sophia's friend, who has the energy and agility of a monkey.
Finally, we stopped for pictures and to take a breath. We could see the lake below us through the trees. We convinced the girls to head down carefully.
Sophia's friend didn't listen and ran so fast that she tripped and flipped over a fallen-down log. I don't think she even came out with a scrape, she was perfectly fine.
At the bottom we looked up at the hill we had tried to climb—we had wanted to reach the top. Near the top the trees slowly die out, leaving a rocky cliff face. We had to laugh—no way could we climb that!
The next morning we would leave Borovoe to return home. It had been a marvelous few days and we are already making plans to return. There's so much we haven't done—more hiking, a pedal-boat ride, mud baths, a nearby lake called “Swan Lake”, animal sight-seeing.