Thursday, June 15, 2006

Greetings from Astana, Kazakhstan!

It is Thursday evening and Bryan and I have just returned from dinner.  More about that later. 

I must start out my post today wishing my Mom and Dad a wonderful and happy anniversary.  They have been married 43 years today and I think that is worth celebrating.  We have been thinking about you today Mom and Dad and love you very much.

Bryan and I started out our day like all the others.  Sleeping in until 9:30, eating a healthy nutritious breakfast of Nestle Chocolate Puffs Cereal with some kind of funky milk-let's just pretend it's cows milk (but I have my doubts) and taking 2 hours to get ready for our big outing of the day; the great Baby House adventure! I don't know how I'm ever going to get my hair done in under 2 hours again when I have to go back to work.  The biggest thing we have to worry about is what we are going to eat for lunch and maybe an occasional load of laundry.  Each load takes about 2-1/2 hours to wash so we have to plan accordingly.  Our brains are becoming numb and mine... full of hairspray.  

We arrived at the Baby House in our usual driver escorted style(frankly, I'm ready to be in charge of my own destiny on the roadway in case that wasn't evident from yesterdays post).  Dina wasn't with us today because she was busy trying to get things in order to file our court documents so we were left playing charades with the ladies of the Baby House-none of which speak a lick of English, which of course isn't there problem, afterall I'm in their country.  Anyway, we are getting really good at Charades and would be willing to take anyone on when we get home.  I have mastered a few words, most notably and most importantly "Spasiba" which means thank you.  Bryan on the other hand can't get that one to soak in and keeps saying "Placeba" which is NOT thank you.  It makes me laugh everytime--sometimes harder than others depending upon when and where he attempts to say it, but, back to Charades-once we finally got down to business we figured out that they were going to bring Jonathan to us today down in the entry way and that we would only get 30 minutes with him.  Apparently, there was some special medical conference with all of the Dr.s in Astana and they were touring the Baby House this afternoon.  We were bummed but managed to get in plenty of hugs and kisses to last Jonathan until tomorrow.  We do get to continue visiting Jonathan each day as normal until we go to court and then head home. 

Due to our short visit we had a lot more time to kill so we decided we would go back to our apartment and make our plans.  Before we got out of the car, Dina began reading one of our court documents to me and we discovered we had two key bits of information that were incorrect.  She had us sign anyway and said if the we needed to change it we would do so later.  We left the car wishing there was a way to get it right the first time because we aren't interested in any delays if we can avoid them.  She must have had the same feeling after she left us because she caught us just as we were walking out the door to tell us to stay put until 4:00 when Boshjan could deliver and have us resign the documents.  We were relieved that she caught us first of all and secondly that she decided to make the corrections before filing the paperwork.  The judges can get kind of fiesty.  One family's agency didn't know the ropes and tried submitting their paperwork before Day 15 and that made the court very, very unhappy.  They had to send a letter of apology and they were delayed several extra days just to prove a point.  Point well taken. 

Soooooooooooo, we waited for Boshjan to arrive and at about 4:10 started getting a little nervous.  Why??? Because we knew he had to be across town to pick Dina up so she could catch a train to Kostinai for some preliminary work she had to do for two other families coming in July.  We selfishly wanted our paperwork filed before she left town tonight because she isn't coming back until Sunday not to mention the clock starts ticking again once we get regisetered.  He finally arrived at about 4:15 and we signed the papers and then asked if we could hitch a ride to the Italian Mall which is right where he had to pick up Dina....That was the beginning of the rats in a maze.  What we didn't know is that we had to re-notorize the documents we had done earlier after the corrections were made which was the opposite way through the city, traffic, accidents, road closings, more accidents....you get the picture.  I kid you not every way the poor man tried to turn there was a sea of traffic, police tending to an yet another accident, a road closed when he thought he had found a short cut and on and on and on.....Remember we were just hitching a ride because we were too lazy to walk and so when Boshjan tried to drop us off at our destination we said "forget about us just get to the court house, we'll ride along."  The court house only accepts registrations until 5:00 or they push it to the next day.  Boshjan has two cell phones, both were ringing at the same time as he's trying to maneuver throught the traffic jams at every turn while talking and trying to shift a manual transmission.  (and we were there all because we were too lazy to walk) -Oh and remember, Dina is waiting to be picked up at the court house so she can catch the train.  It was like the great chase.  Are you getting the idea.  It was so crazy it was funny.  Even Boshjan was a little stressed today.  I'm happy to say the court house registrar was very nice-thanks to Dina and her negotiation skills-he told her he would wait for us to arrive AND she made it to the train station with 10 minutes to spare.  All is good in the land of Kaz and we think our papers were filed today?????  I guess we'll know for sure on Monday. 

We capped off the evening at a restaurant called Ali Baba.  It is an outdoor place, with an English menu(very important)and great costumes.  We felt like we were in Egypt because of the way the waiters/waitresses were dressed.  They also had tables with a raised floor where you take off your shoes and you can lay down to eat, drink and be merry I guess.  We opted for a table but had fun watching one lady throughout our entire meal enjoying her drink and tobacco lamp where she hung on to the hose like it was a lifeline.  I have to attach a picture of that one just so you can see it for yourself.  Truly memorable.  I'm not sure how many cigarettes that would equal but it had to be a lot.  The tobacco lamp looks like a genie in a bottle and I'm sure it is called something else but I'll leave that for you to come up with.  It is tall base with several chambers that hold water in the base and then the tobacco is at the top.  The hose is attached and I guess you suck on the hose and smoke through it.  It looks rather pathetic if you asked me but I guess it is all the rage.  For some reason they think it is better for them because of the water mixing with the tobacco-frankly, as long as she was sucking on it, I'm surprised she wasn't dead.  We won't be bringing any of those home as souveniers needless to say.  Oh-for you smokers out there-just so you know how much it is costing you to smoke in America, cigarettes here are roughly 35 cents a pack.  Phillip Morris has no worries in Central Asia.  Everyone here smokes-a lot. 

Well, Bryan bought a movie in Russian but it will play 3 times in English so we are going to attempt that tonight. 

We remain glad that you are still reading.....thanks for humoring us and thanks for your emails.  We love each and everyone.  You have no idea what an incredible support system you have been.  Thanks from the bottom of our hearts. 

Now for what you've been waiting for....the photos.

 

 Jonathan with his special "I Love You" bear from his sister Rachael. 

Jonathan and his little roommate and buddy Alaina.  Aren't they cute!

 

 

 The lady and her smoking lamp.  What a site to see.