Karatau

Karatau, Kazakhstan (Black Mountain)

Welcome to Karatau , Kazakhstan, in the Karatau Mountains

Karatau, which means Black Mountain in the Kazakh language, was my Peace Corps site for two years. It’s a small Kazakh town with a population of roughly 30,000 people (No one is quite sure what the real population is. When I arrived in Karatau in August, 1997, there may have been up to 35,000-45,000 people. When I left in June, 1999, the population may have ranged from 15,000-25,000). It’s one of the dying towns in Kazakhstan. Many people have left for better jobs in the bigger cities. This in turn has left many vacant buildings. During my two years in Karatau, I watched over 20 of these buildings be demolished around my school and apartment.

Here are also some miscellaneous pictures from Karatau from early Summer, 1998. I just recently found these pictures. This was probably one of the most beautiful times to be in Karatau. Spring came late after a long cold winter. When it did come, things became green immediately. It was during this time that I met some Russian students. They made me some pictures to take back to the states. I was the first American many had seen. A couple of these students became my computer students the next year. I have also included a copy of my speech to the people of Karatau I “had” to give in June, 1999. It was done entirely in Kazakh. I wrote 90 percent of the speech myself. Aizhan, my host sister, helped me with the rest.

Akim Government building in Karatau
Akim Government building in Karatau
Palace of Culture in Karatau
Palace of Culture in Karatau
Unfinished mosque in Karatau, Kazakhstan
Unfinished mosque in Karatau, Kazakhstan
Karatau, Kazakhstan
Karatau, Kazakhstan
Karatau Lyceum, Karatau, Kazakhstan
Karatau Lyceum, Karatau, Kazakhstan
My school behind the apartment building (the apartment building was torn down a couple of months later)

Karatau Mountains, Karatau, Kazakhstan
Karatau Mountains, Karatau, Kazakhstan
A view of the Karatau Hills (foothills of the Karatau Mountains)

Karatau, Kazakhstan
Karatau, Kazakhstan
Largest building in Karatau

Karatau, Kazakhstan
Karatau, Kazakhstan
View of the unfinished Turkish mosque

Karatau, Kazakhstan
Karatau, Kazakhstan
Winter, 1997, in Karatau.

Main road to Taraz
Main road to Taraz
One of the main streets in Karatau
One of the main streets in Karatau
Victory Memorial (Zhengnis means Victory in Kazakh)
Victory Memorial (Zhengnis means Victory in Kazakh)
Demolished apartments next to my school
Demolished apartments next to my school
More demolish apartment buildings
More demolish apartment buildings
Most of the materials are sold to make new homes in the bigger cities
Most of the materials are sold to make new homes in the bigger cities
My Kazakh student, Karatau, Kazakhstan
My student, Gulnara (blue coat) selling bread in frigid temperatures

My students cleaning the streets in Karatau
My students cleaning the streets in Karatau
Gulnara and Ainura
Gulnara and Ainura
Spring thunderstorm (view of my school)
Spring thunderstorm (view of my school)
My students marching in the town square for Victory Day
My students marching in the town square for Victory Day
Outskirts of Karatau (most of the population lives here)
Outskirts of Karatau (most of the population lives here)
Outskirts of Karatau
Outskirts of Karatau
Another view of the Karatau Hills
Another view of the Karatau Hills
Lake Zhartas (Zhartas means cliff in Kazakh)
Lake Zhartas (Zhartas means cliff in Kazakh)
Lake Zhartas
Lake Zhartas
A stream on the outskirts of Karatau
A stream on the outskirts of Karatau
Zhana Zhilman means "Happy New Year" in Kazakh (the post office gave it to me)
Zhana Zhilman means “Happy New Year” in Kazakh (the post office gave it to me)
Kazakhstan emblem
Kazakhstan emblem
One of my Russian students drew the picture of the Kazakhstani emblem for me

Another picture drawn by another Russian student (Lev is Russian for lion)
Another picture drawn by another Russian student (Lev is Russian for lion)
Russian student drawing, Karatau, Kazakhstan
Russian student drawing, Karatau, Kazakhstan
My farewell speech to the people of Karatau
My farewell speech to the people of Karatau