November 9, 2008
Countdown to Court, Day 2
Today Emilia is seven months old! I looked back at the pictures that I took when I first met her, and I see that she has already changed. She is slightly bigger, has more hair (though still not much) and is more animated and vocal. It’s truly wonderful to see my little girl getting stronger and more active. I can only imagine how she is going to be when I have her with me all the time. Can’t wait!
Today I introduced bubbles into our repertoire of activities. Emilia was mesmerized. She didn’t smile or reach for them; she simply stared. I wonder what she was thinking, particularly as the bubbles got bigger and then popped. From the look on her face, the popping part was a bit of a surprise!
Since today was a bit warmer than yesterday and the snow didn’t amount to much (thank goodness), Kati and I headed into town. On the way we each took a photo of the firehouse, which operates a bit differently than those in the U.S. You see, Uralsk doesn’t have any fire hydrants. The firemen simply bring their own water to the fire. I find this shocking and asked Aliya what happens if there’s a big fire. She said there really aren’t big fires, except car fires. I’m thinking I may be missing something here.
Since Kati had not been to the Russian Orthodox Church, we went in for a visit. Kati had the same reaction I had originally…WOW! A security guard and a young boy approached us, and we had a pretty amusing time trying to chat with them. This is the story of Americans’ lives here in Uralsk. Sometimes people simply approach us and try to talk to us in Russian or Kazakh. At other times, they say whatever American words they know. Most often, they just look at us when they hear us chatting. Little children in particular love to stare at us, eyes wide open. We always say hello, but the eyes just get bigger.
I find that people really appreciate it when you try to communicate in their language, particularly when you attempt Kazakh. I learned how to say thank you in Kaz – it sounds like “rock-met” with a bit of a gutteral “r” – and I always get a happy, surprised reaction when I say it. Most foreigners say thank you in Russian, which is “spasibo.”
Of course, I have had many amusing sign language conversations with fingers pointing and calculators being pulled out and shown. It doesn’t always work, but it’s amazing how far you can get when you try.
After visiting the church, Kati and I headed to Pizza Hot, where we enjoyed pizza and diet Cokes (I know…how American of us). Diet soda is not a big thing here, so it’s really hard to find. Apparently people have been told since childhood that diet soda is bad for them, and this has stuck in adults’ minds. Since it’s not purchased often, it’s not sold. Pizza Hot was a jackpot of sorts for diet soda, so we bought extras to bring back to the hotel.
Pizza Hot is not far from the Atrium, the local mall, or the bazaar, so we headed there next. I bought a few items, but the store I really wanted to visit was closed, as it’s Sunday. I’m feeling as though I’m running out of time when it comes to browsing through the stores. It won’t be so easy to shop with Emilia, as I only have a small umbrella stroller, and the sidewalks here are treacherous. Every other minute you are falling into a hole or trying to avoid a giant mud puddle. I’m not sure the umbrella stroller will be able to handle this rough terrain! Too bad I don’t have my mega stroller, which is waiting for Em at home. It was just too massive to bring on the plane with all my other luggage.
I find that after a few hours outdoors, I turn into a complete popsicle and need to head back to the Pushkin…and it isn’t even cold by Kaz standards. Yikes! Can you imagine what it’s like in the dead of winter? I would certainly hibernate and not come out until Spring thaw!
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