Here Starts Central Asia: Turkestan, Kazakhstan
After Almaty I headed southwest to the small city of Turkestan, much closer to Uzbekistan. The main draw here is the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yassawi, a poet and mystic who greatly influenced the development of Sufism in Central Asia.
Other than the mausoleum, Turkestan was a small Central Asian town with a lively bazaar, and a mix of mostly Uzbek and Kazakh inhabitants.
This is where my tour of the Peace Corps volunteers of Southern Kazakhstan began, as I had been given the contact info for a volunteer living in Turkestan.
He was staying with a local Kazakh family with three rowdy, bratty kids who had great fun talking with me in Kazakh. It was a good intellectual match. I found I could sustain a conversation with them much longer than I could with adults, particularly if the 2-year old was running the show.
At a certain level, kids can really be great language teachers.