Thursday, May 29, 2008

Daisy the Duck

Good morning Canada!

Today was our fourth day of visits to the baby house to bond with M. Both visits were good and we saw many changes with each visit. Today M started to play with the toys we brought. He also appears to appreciate fine literature, especially the soothing quality of Daisy the Duck. He started to look through the book at the bright colours, but since he has two new teeth coming through, he soon had other priorities in mind and Daisy the Duck was repurposed to a teething toy. Most days we spend a lot of time walking with M. There is a driveway that surrounds the baby house and many small play areas that we can use. He likes to cuddle, which is good, but with the temperatures in the low 30’s it is like carrying a small furnace! We were thankful today to find a patch of shade and a cool breeze.

On the other front, we now have one TV channel in English. We almost have the news feeds of CNN memorized, but it is good to have a bit of a connection to what is happening in the rest of the world.

Usually we aren’t ones to praise marketing and advertisements, but quite honestly, here it is a life saver for us. We are determined to become independent in terms of shopping, and that could not happen if it weren’t for the picture clues on food. Here’s a bit of an idea of the cost of some items we’ve bought so far:
1L of juice - 195 tenge (or about $1.63 CDN),
a loaf of unsliced bread - 53 tenge ($0.41 CDN),
5L of water – 166 tenge ($1.38 CDN),
10 hot dogs – 163 tenge ($1.36 CDN)
10 eggs – 195 tenge ($1.63 CDN)
0.5L Heinz ketchup – 670 tenge ($5.58) – Rod insisted.

Oh, and if we decide not to come home, it will only be because of the yogurt here, it is absolutely amazing! The milk on the other hand may take some getting used to.

Some other interesting things to note about life in Kaz:

Driving - Streets here are like a daily Indy 500. Lane markings appear to be only a general suggestion with the number of lanes of each street more commonly determined by the size of vehicles and spatial awareness of drivers. A general rule of thumb is to take the number of marked lanes and add one more. That’s usually how many cars will drive abreast. If there is an opening, two or three vehicles go for it. Car horns are multi-purpose. They are used to greet people, give them a piece of your mind when they eek into your space, to warn people you are coming, and to let them know you plan to stop to let them cross. Our driver honks his horn more times in a day than we have the entire time we’ve owned our car!

Walking - Apparently pedestrians have a higher point value here that at home. The downtown area has some marked crosswalks, but locals seem to prefer a more direct route, much like Saskatchewan’s gopher population. We are thankful that we live in an area with low traffic, else we would be limited to wander aimlessly around our block, longing to explore, but never braving to cross the street! Our general strategy in busy areas is to find someone that looks like they’ve been around awhile and cross when they do – hey if they’ve lasted this long, they must have a good strategy!

But seriously, Kazakhstan is a beautiful country with many interesting things to learn. Our driver pointed out some sites of interest within walking distance that we hope to explore sometime soon. Hopefully we’ll be able to post some pictures of these adventures.


Tracey said...

Thanks for the update.
The big question: How much is a litre of gas?

Catherine & Larry said...

Dear Tammy, Rod and little M
Nice to hear that M warming up to you more each day, in addition to keeping you nice and warm. Like Tracey ask's how much is the gas, it went up to 1.35 a liter here yesterday, so Rod we may have to soon siphon some out of your tank.

Until next time.

Julian and Sara Yeomans said...

Glad to hear things are going well. We did the same thing when crossing streets - wait for some locals and follow them. It took a long while to get used to the traffic patterns!

We enjoy your updates.