November 20, 2008
Emilia and I had our bags packed and in the car when Aliya got a call that our flight was delayed by four hours. Technically, I had already checked out of the hotel, but since the official checkout time was noon, the receptionist let us go back to our room. Emilia had fallen asleep in my carrier, so I simply took her out and put her back into her crib. Both Mommy and baby slept for over an hour!
I had not watched any TV when I was at the Pushkin, but since I had packed up most of Em’s toys, and they were in Velodya’s car, I turned on the tube. I connected to British TV and Emilia and I watched toddler programs (yes, a bit advanced, but she’s a smarty). It’s always so fascinating to see what other cultures do to entertain children. To be honest, the British program wasn’t much different from what we have in America.
Since we had to be truly out of our room by noon, we took refuge in Kati’s room. She was so very sweet to let Emilia roll around on her bed. Being with Kati made the time fly by. She’s been a wonderful friend to Emilia and me, and I’ll miss our time together. I so hope that she’s matched with a child soon. She is so deserving.
At 1 p.m. Aliya and Vladimir reappeared, and we were off to the airport. The one good thing about the plane’s delay was that Aliya was able to give me Emilia’s birth certificate and other documents in person. We got to the airport in plenty of time, and I was able to feed Em her afternoon meal. Then it was suddenly time to go.
I was excited to be finally leaving, but at the same time, I was sad to say good bye. I will always have such happy memories of my time in Uralsk, and I will always hold a special place for Aliya in my heart. She’s such a wonderful person, and I wish so many good things for her.
One of the ladies at security was particularly nice to Emilia and me. We didn’t have any security issues (they allow you to travel with liquids in country!), and she came over and doted over Emilia. When we were finally heading for the plane (we had to get on a bus to go to the plane, which was in the middle of the air field), she came over to us again and wished us a happy life together. It really lifted my spirits after our sad departure with Aliya, Velodya and Kati (who also came along for the farewell ride).
Two very kind men helped me with my carry-on bag and stroller, and when I got on line to go up the stairs to the plane, a woman pushed me ahead to the front. Basically, she told everyone to get out of the way, a mother and child were coming through, and I couldn’t have the baby out in the cold. Wow! Nice special treatment.
Due to everyone’s help, I was able to get Emilia into her seat without any trouble. I thought that she might be frightened by the plane or get antsy, but she took everything in stride, even the mini seatbelt I put on her. She was awake for the majority of the trip, and behaved so well that the flight attendant commented that she might go into the airline business one day. It was only upon our descent that she fussed a little due to the pressure in her ears, but I’m not complaining. She was a perfect travel companion! I just hope she is as easy going on our long flights to Frankfurt and NY.
I was struggling getting everything together after the flight, so I let everyone disembark before us. A very kind couple sitting behind us (Em gave the man big smiles over my headrest during the trip) volunteered to help me, and I was grateful for their assistance. The entire plane was waiting for us to go on the bus to the terminal.
Sonya, who I met when I first flew into Almaty five weeks ago, was there to greet us at the gate. It was a big relief to have her there and to be whisked off to our hotel, the Alma-Ata in the center of Almaty. I have to say that Almaty, though I haven’t seen much and it was dark out, is worlds away from Uralsk. It’s a very modern city, and I was amazed by all the recognizable signage for stores. I think Almaty is to Kaz what NYC is to the U.S.
Emilia was getting tired and hungry, so we checked in quickly. I am surprised by our new space, as it’s quite large. We have three rooms and a bathroom. It’s the size of an apartment, but it lacks a kitchen. It’s not the most modern suite – particularly the outdated bathroom – but it will be just fine for us. Our room even has a lovely view of the Opera House across the way. The only real downer is that wireless is completely down in the city, so I must rely on a dial-up connection, which can be sketchy at best.
It’s late here in Almaty – I’m now in a different time zone again and 11 hours ahead of NY – so I’m off to bed. Emilia and I are meeting Sonya in the morning, so that Emilia can have her required medical exam before leaving Kaz (a U.S. requirement). I certainly don’t want to oversleep, as this is an important step in our continuing process.