November 21, 2008
This morning when I looked out the window I couldn’t tell what the weather was doing. There was an incredible fog, and I couldn’t even see if it had snowed, which it hadn’t. The fog just gave that impression. I learned later that Siberian clouds have rolled into town the past few days and that has caused a heavy fog that even in sunlight looks like haze. The fog is gone now, but I have to say it was rather peculiar.
Sonya picked Emilia and me up at 9:30 and took us to the photo store because Em needed a picture for her visa. Then we went to the SOS clinic, where Emilia had her medical appointment. She now weighs slightly over 17 pounds, is 27 inches long and is in good health. Thank God! My little girl is growing – and my sore lower back can attest to this fact!
When I was at the clinic, Sonya went to the embassy with my paperwork, which was due before noon. It turned out that Emilia was wearing colors that were too light in the photo – go figure, she was wearing pink and purple – so we had to redo it. I had to wrap her up in my dark green scarf, and she was not too happy. Still, we had to do what was asked. I’ll stand on my head if it will get us home in time for Thanksgiving. (Then I’ll do a jig!)
Em had a very long nap this afternoon, and then we met up with Lena, who works for my adoption agency, Wide Horizons for Children. Lena and I met in person in NY this past summer, and it was so nice to see her again. It was a beautiful afternoon, though hats and gloves were needed, and we went for a stroll down to the old square and the Silk Road, which is like Kaz’s Fifth Avenue. I’d like to go back there again tomorrow or Sunday to take more pictures.
Almaty is a much more modern city than Uralsk and has some lovely architecture. They have done a great job blending the old and the new, and I enjoyed looking at the many buildings.
Although people here complain about the traffic, I really don’t think it’s bad at all. Then again, I haven’t been stuck in it. One thing I noticed which was strange is that some people have steering wheels on the right, even though people here drive on the right side of the road. Apparently, these cars are less expensive to purchase, but it’s illegal to drive them. Still, so many people have them that there hasn’t been a crackdown.
Lena suggested that we stop for refreshments, so we headed to a café that had a symbol that was almost identical to Starbuck’s. It was lovely to warm up over a pot of hot tea and a nice piece of honey layer cake…the best dessert I’ve had in Kaz to date! I do think it’s amusing that there are many restaurant chains in Kaz that are American knockoffs (e.g., McJohn’s, Pizza Hot, the coffee joint, etc.). There must be some business reason, though who knows what it is.
I really enjoyed catching up with Lena, but it wasn’t the most focused conversation. When Emilia is feeling that she’s being excluded from the conversation, she makes it known. She wants to sit at the table and get involved in the conversation. Of course, we can’t understand what she’s saying, but I’m sure she enjoys putting in her two cents.
Em and I had a quiet night tonight. Tomorrow afternoon we are going to do some more sightseeing with Lena. I’m so glad she is here to show us around. Once again, Em and I are blessed with having a friend to share with us the wonders of this beautiful country.