Saturday, May 31, 2008

H-O-T Spells Hot

So how would we describe Kazakhstan today? In a word – HOT! In case you hadn’t noticed in our recent posts, it has been hot all week, with temperatures in the mid 30’s. There is little to no wind and few places have air conditioners. The cars all seem to have AC, but nobody uses it. Generally they prefer the 4 by 60 method of climate control (4 windows down, 60mph). Needless to say, there’s practically no point in doing your hair in the morning, it won’t look like you did a few blocks later.

Life at Club Baby House (a term coined by another adoptive family) continues to go well. It is kind of like a mini United Nations. So far we have met four families from the USA, and one each from London, Spain and Germany. There is also another couple from Canada who is using the same agency as we are. Each morning just before 10 am, a caravan of vehicles pulls onto the Baby House grounds. We, along with the other families hop out of vehicles and file into the various rooms to retrieve our children for our morning visit. Around 11:30, the same families slowly trickle back in to deposit their children into the waiting arms of the loving caregivers and then assemble themselves outside to be ferried back off to their respective living quarters. And so the story goes morning and afternoon. It has only been 6 days, but we already dread seeing the hands on the clock tick away, moving toward the time we must depart from our children.

Today had some variety for us. We started our day with a stop at the notary to sign papers allowing our coordinator to proceed with filing our paperwork. We will file these papers with the courts on June 9th (the day after our 15 days of bonding) to petition the adoption of M. Hopefully on the 10th we will be given our court date, which we expect to be 20 to 25 days later. We were only allowed one visit today, as the Baby House is short staffed on weekends, so we decided to do a little exploring of this fine city.

Our first destination was Park Kirova in the centre of down town Ust. It is only about a 15 minute walk from our apartment. The park is about two city blocks in area and appears to be a dedication to General Kirova, but that’s as far as we figured out so far. It is a beautiful area with many trees, flowers and winding brick paths that are scattered with various statues and iron garden figures. The picture above is a statue that caught our attention and seemed fitting to our time here.

There is also a Russian pioneer village in the park that we visited. It is reminiscent of the pioneer museums at home, consisting of a variety of traditional buildings, including stores, houses, cabins, and tack sheds. After the village we got up enough courage to purchase some ice cream treats from one of the vendors in the park. This may not seem like a huge accomplishment, but for us, it was the first time we bought something where the price wasn’t listed so we had to ask – and understand what we heard. It went well, the ice cream was delicious, and we discovered that Canada has many different pronunciations. Here, it sounds a lot more like “Kuh-nah-da”. After the park, we decided to take a different route home so that we would end up passing by the grocery store on the way to our apartment. To our surprise, we ended up finding one of the bazaars we had heard so much about. We thought it would only be a few stalls, so decided to venture in so we could get an idea of what types of goods were sold in a bazaar. As it turns out, this was no little bazaar. Our best guess would be that it had around 100 vendors in it, selling everything from shoes to clothes to fabric to household goods. The bazaar was a maze of stalls and paths, and the best thing we can compare it to would be a trade show, but far less fancy and far more crowded. In places the roof only consisted of a tarp, while other areas had sheets of tin. Of the prices we saw or asked about, most things seemed fairly cheap. Brand names, especially those from the west, were comparable to prices back home, but I would suspect the quality is considerably less.

We've also included a picture of the view from our apartment. We are fortunate to be along the river because we can get a cool breeze in the evening which helps to make sleep possible.


Jamey & Catherine said...

Its great to hear how you are doing in Ust. We are counting down the days ourselves until we travel. It sounds like you are sure meeting a lot of different prople! Have a great time, we are reading everyday!
Jamey and Catherine

Karen & Glenn said...

It is great to catch up on your blog, although it makes us totally homesick -- for Ust!!! :-) We are sure our paths will cross when we return to Club BH in mid-June, so we hope to track you down then. We are so excited to be following your journey, and we are so happy that you have met your little boy. Enjoy the city and your adventure!!!

Barb & Stu said...

Hey guys. This all seems so surreal to us - it's so amazing! Thanks for all the updates. Enjoy this special time - can't wait to meet m!
Barb, Stu, & crew

Jill (& Bob) said...

Glad to have found your blog (via a comment on Matt & Suz's). We are submitting our dossier tomorrow and are enjoying following families that are in country so we know what to expect! said...

So glad to hear things are going so great for your new little family! can hardly wait to meet the little fella-take care and hopefully hear from you soon!
Pat & Gerald