Thursday, January 11, 2007

Almaty Meetings

It's seems we've been doing a lot of sleeping but are still tired! ;-) It's going to take a while to beat this jet lag stuff. Right now we keep waking up in the middle of the night and end up being awake for a couple of hours before being able to get back to sleep.

Last night Tom went to bed around 7 because he was tired. I stayed up later thinking it would help me get adjusted so I would be more tired and sleep through the night. Let me go on the record to say this is the first time I've ever been wrong. Tom slept through most of the night and I awake from 12:30-6! There's a lot of really weird stuff on Kazakh TV that late at night (or early in the morning) and several channels that made me blush as I flipped through the selection.

We had an appointment at the office with the sisters at noon. Sasha picked us up and away we went. We got there right on time and in less than 10 minutes we had the legal paperwork signed and ready to go. Gulbanu got held up in some other meetings and didn't make it to meet with us until nearly an hour later. The office staff took very good care of us and made sure we knew what our next steps were. We found out that our flight to Uralsk was tomorrow morning and we would be leaving the apartment for the airport around 4:45am.

After our meeting, we had Sasha drop us off at Mad Murphy's Irish Pub... it's the main American-style restaurant that we've heard the other adoptive families rave about... and I am thrilled to say we enjoyed it as well. The waitresses spoke english and the menus were in english. Tom ordered a chili cheeseburger with fries and I had macaroni and cheese (!) that also came with fries... just can't get enough carbs! The food was great and it was nice to hear some people speaking english again.

After lunch, we stopped back at the office to pick up a package that Gulbanu had prepared for us to take with us to Uralsk and give to Olga. It was a quick stop and I simply ran in and came right back out with it. While we were waiting for Sasha to come back to the car we decided to stand outside for a bit since the weather was pretty nice. It wasn't but a few minutes and a family approached us begging for money for food. There were 2 men in their 30's and a woman that was slightly older. One of the men was carrying a sleeping toddler that was under 2 and there were 2 other little boys walking with them that were probably around 3 years old. It was an awkward situation... The guy holding the child came to me first and was asking for money and kept motioning to his child and then to his mouth.

Unfortunately, we aren't in a position to help people like this especially when the driver or interpreter weren't around. The man finally walked away from me and over to Tom who was coming over to see what was going on... then the woman (with a mouth full of gold teeth) came up and kept motioning the same way, and then the other man. We were very near the car and simply opened the doors and hopped in the car and locked the doors. But they continued trying to plea for help... tapping on the windows, walking to the other side and tapping on the other windows. I never felt my safety was in danger, but it was just very uncomfortable and awkward. They finally realized that we weren't giving in and continued walking down the street doing the same thing to others they came across.

After the quick pitstop, it was back in the car with Sasha for another quick trip to the Ramstore (it's a mall with a grocery store). We had planned on going to the internet cafe there, but after getting there Sasha informed us it had closed a while ago and was no longer there.

We explored the Ramstore and picked up some batteries and watched some of the kids ice skating on the indoor rink in the Ramstore. We still needed an internet connection so we could touch base with home so we had Sasha stop by another place on the way home.

I believe the place was called Venetia (or something like that) and had 16 new PCs with flat panel screens. It was basically dial-up connection speed. The lady that ran the internet cafe was not excited to work with Americans... until we were ready to leave... then she was more than happy to take our money! She wasn't mean or anything, just didn't want to try to hard to communicate with us.

From there, our night was done and we headed back to the apartment for some much needed rest. This whole trip has been pretty surreal so far as I feel like I'm finally living all the blogs and journals that I've been reading for the past couple of years. My stomach was in knots tonight as I realized this is becoming a reality and we might finally get to meet our daughter very soon. I fell asleep on the couch around 5:30pm or so and ended up sleeping on the couch the rest of the night. I was up several times throughout the night but didn't have any trouble falling back to sleep this time!

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