June 6 – Naryn police department

I arrived at the local military post around 11:00 on the 6th, still keeping my emotions in check – I was completely alone in a very foreign country, not being able to speak the language and no one to help. I kept telling them “embassy, embassy” and pointing to the phone. After some convincing, I made it through to the embassy operator and she put me in touch with someone who told me there wasn’t much he could do until I came to Bishkek (about 5 hours away). He said he knew some Kyrgyz and broken Russian and would try to communicate to the military officer that was helping me. This conversation lasted about 1 minute until the officer started yelling into the phone and abruptly hung up. My heart sank – this guy just hung up on the Embassy. Now I’m really screwed – there was no American Calvary coming to save the day and or to get me out of there.

No one at the department spoke English, so I did my best to mime out the evening happenings, mixed in with a little translation. They had no interest or patience in using the translator app and would just pass it back to me. I dug in my pack and pulled out the burlap sack the men tried to get over my head and the rope they tried to choke me with. I believe it became crystal clear to the officers at this point and they clearly knew they were going to need a translator. The officers called in a young woman who could speak pretty good English to start translating – she didn’t work for the department, but was a sister to one of the officers.

It didn’t take long before there were 5 of us stuffed into little military Lada, headed out to the campsite. What a crazy day this was shaping up to be; we stopped and searched a “random” farm; ate dinner with some people who where having a family picnic up in the mountains (apparently I wasn’t the only one who was hungry); had to push the Lada out of the mountains because it didn’t have enough power to get up the hills; pulled over a drunk driver by swerving the Lada in front of them, and all of this while I was still quite a mess inside and wondering what was going on. The police even had checkpoints set up around town, pulling over every white car that came through. It appeared to be a full-blown effort with all hands on deck.

It wasn’t until 11:00 that they took me to a shitty hotel and told me they would be back in the morning. The officer in charge was heading back into the mountains to sleep with the motorcycle and see if anyone came back. After a failed attempt at a shower (there was no water in my room), I hit the sack with my head still spinning from the past 24 hrs.

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