November 22, 2008
I realized last week that it was going to be a very close call regarding finalizing Emilia’s paperwork before our scheduled departure date. Unfortunately, there has been a delay in Astana – an official who needed to sign a document wasn’t in yesterday – so my process is delayed by 24 hours. This means that I need to change our plane tickets, but it might be tricky getting an open flight early on Wednesday morning. I have contacted the travel agency, but due to the 11 hour time difference, I haven’t heard back yet. I’m concerned, as Wednesday will be one of the biggest travel days of the year in the U.S.
I’m disappointed there has been a delay, but I don’t feel I should complain. I have had relatively smooth sailing throughout this trip, and I’m already officially Emilia’s Mom. If we’re together, wherever we are, we’ll be O.K. I haven’t forgotten for a moment how blessed I am.
When I woke up this morning, I had quite a surprise. The fog had lifted, and I actually saw a magnificent chain of snow-covered mountains from my bedroom window. What I see is the northern fringe of the Tien-Shan Mountains, which extend into Kyrgystan, Turkestan, and Uzbekistan. I should have taken a photo because as the day wore on the fog rolled in, and I couldn’t even see the outlines of the mountains. Tien-Shan means celestial mountains in Chinese; I think they should be called the Peek-a-Boo Mountains, at least in Almaty.
Since Lena had to work today unexpectedly, Emilia and I ventured out on our own. We visited the parks on either side of the Opera House, which were quite nice. The only problem was that I had to carry Em’s stroller up and down the stairs. Access to these parks isn’t terribly kid-friendly.
One of the things that I noticed right away about Almaty is its canals. I asked Sonya about them yesterday, and she said that they are for the water that pours down from the mountains when the snow melts in the spring. They must get a ton of snow here because you can spot these channels around town, and they are wide. Sonya also pointed out that the water in the city is good to drink (unlike Uralsk) as it is pure from the mountains. It’s a nice change of pace to be able to drink water from the tap.
Emilia and I also ventured into the local grocery store. This store was much more like the ones we have back home, but it had much narrower isles, and it was packed with people. I bought a few essentials – baby food for Emilia and chocolate for me (Cadbury, which is almost gone already) – but we didn’t stay long. I would have liked to browse, but it just wasn’t possible with the swarms of people.
Early in the evening Lena dropped by our room. After feeding Emilia, we decided to feed ourselves and headed to the American Bar and Grille, which reminded me of an Applebee’s back home. Although I have been longing for a cheeseburger, I decided to wait until I get home to have one. Instead I opted for pork kabobs and fries. This was the first time on this trip that I had ketchup, and I really enjoyed it. It’s funny the things you miss.
It was a good meal, but Emilia woke up just as we were being served. As I’ve mentioned before, she does not want to remain in her stroller when you are at the table because she feels she’s being excluded. Lena had to cut my food, so I could navigate my fork with one hand and hold my squirmy Emilia in the other. Once my plate was cleared, Em was enthralled with my colorful placemat, which she tried to wave like a flag.
I’m glad to see that Emilia is interested in so many things. I can put a pile of toys in front of her, but she will often be drawn to something else, such as the lace on my pajama top or the tag on my luggage. If it passes the chewability barometer, it’s of interest to Emilia.
If the weather is as nice as it was today (in the 40’s), Emilia and I plan to take a walk in the morning and then meet up with Lena in the afternoon. The city is a grid, so it’s easy to find your way to various destinations that are in walking distance. Since I like to walk, and Em likes to be pushed in her stroller, we’re good to go.