This blog chronicles our journey to adopt a baby girl from Kazakhstan and some random thoughts along the way.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Almaty at Last!
[from Scott who is in Almaty with Alia & Jean, his mom]
Well, we all landed safely in Almaty Sunday night and got to the apartment fine, thanks to our driver, Vitalii. Alia was a real trooper. We started the day with a four hour car ride from Kokshetau to Astana on some roads that were in serious disrepair. They are doing some major construction on the main road from Astana to Kokshetau, and in a couple of years, it will be at least three lanes in each direction of brand new smooth highway. But, for now, you make do. Alia did well on the flight, but she hadn't had much sleep in the car and that caught up with her, and made for an unhappy baby for a bit, but she was able to sleep for a while on the plane. In all, I'm amazed at how well she handled everything - the long car ride, being around so many people in public, the flight, and not getting to bed until almost ten o'clock that night. She's resilient, that's for sure.
We are staying in a very nice two bedroom apartment in a high rise apartment complex (complete with elevator - thank you Altynbyaev Sisters!) about a two blocks South of the Children's Palace and only a few blocks from the Sisters' office. Vitalii took us straight to Janara's home last night to give her our paperwork so that she could get started on it. Then, after he dropped us off at the apartment, he took me to the Ram Store to buy groceries. It is right next to the sister's office and well within walking distance if we need to restock before we leave.
Today, Vitalii picked us up and we went to a photo shop and had Alia’s picture taken for her Visa, and then went over to the Sisters’ office to complete some paperwork. I have to admit that it was a little difficult to work with all of the women coming into the conference room to fawn over Alia. She’s a tough sell though. She is still very skeptical of anyone new getting too close to her, and will scowl at anyone trying to get her to smile or laugh. That’s still reserved for Mom and Dad.
This afternoon, while mom and Alia napped, Vitalii took me to the Tsum store. It doesn’t seem right to think of it as a single store. It’s like lots of little vendors in a big department store sized building. The first floor is all electronics and home appliances. Today was a holiday, so it may have been more crowded than normal, but it was amazing to watch all the people buying cell phones. There were cases and counters like you might find at a jewelers, packed with cell phones. And each of those counters was crowded with people clamoring to buy one.
The second floor is mostly clothes, and it was significantly less crowded. I headed up to the third floor, where you can buy everything from a crystal chandelier to hand woven wool rug, to a fermented milk container made from horse hide. I spent A LOT of time on the third floor buying souvenirs. I think I’m going to go back tomorrow!
This evening, we got adventurous and went out to the street corner and hailed a taxi to take us to dinner. I read that you can just stand on a street corner in Almaty and within a minute or two a cab will stop and take you anywhere you want to go in town for a couple of bucks. Well, I put my hand up, and some nice couple in a Mercedes pulled over, because they thought I was in some kind of distress, I suppose. After realizing that they were indeed not a taxi service, and I was not in need of assistance, they went on. We did finally hail a taxi and went to Mad Murphy’s Irish Pub, for a little familiar atmosphere and food. We had a very nice time, and it is reminiscent of pubs you would see back in the States, but you pay for that atmosphere. I had shared some of mom’s fries (very good), and had probably the most odd (imaginative?) vegetarian lasagna anywhere. After it was reheated (frozen solid in the middle), it wasn’t too bad, but it definitely would take some getting used to. Alia sat in the booth next to me and chewed on her bath book version of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and responded not at all to the women at nearby tables who were trying to get her attention.
Tomorrow, we take Alia for her medical visit and shots, and then the Embassy on Wednesday afternoon. Our flight leaves Almaty at 2:30 in the morning on Thursday. We’ll try to take the tram up to Kok Tube, and I’ll probably do some walking around town in the next couple of days. Hope to update you soon.
Scroll down to the "blog archive" on the right. We were in Kazakhstan from August 28, 2008-October 30, 2008.
Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same. — Flavia Weedn
Meaning of Alia
Alia (עלייה, Hebrew for "ascent", "ascension", "rising"; علياء, Arabic for "sublime", "highest of the high", "Zenith"). Refers to Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel. It is also a common female name, but can be used by some families in Senegal to name their sons. - Wikipedia