*This post was updated with photos and additional info after adoption
Everything is still going peachy on the adoption front so I'd like to take a minute to tell you about where we are. The city that we are in right now is called Karaganda. In Russian it is Караганда.
I'd have to say that this city reminds me of Salt Lake in some ways. There are large concrete apartment structures that people stay in just like that hotel at Snowbird. There is snow on the ground. There are people. They walk, too. That's really about it.
The buildings are small city-sized with few reaching over ten stories. The cars are really cool - a mix of late-model Asian and European cars and then a few Soviet-era boxy-type cars. People drive much differently than in the US, means a mix of aggressive and courteous. Cars stop for jaywalkers, then zoom away to get back up to speed. Our driver is great. His name is Vladim and he takes us about in his beautifully kept Mercedes with deft skill. His car is much nicer than the one in the photo posted. There are times when he gets that car moving in the snow and I think there is no way this rear wheel drive car will get through it. No sweat though. It does. I did notice beefy snow tires on a lot of cars here. I suppose that since the snow is around for all but a few months it's worth the money for good snow tires.
The cold here really does shape this place and the people. Your perspective is different when it is -15 C (5 F) outside in the "heat" of the afternoon. It is a widely held belief that drinking something cold from a fridge will make your throat sore. We've had cold bottles of Coke at lunch and dinner yesterday and now my throat does tickle a little bit. Coincidence? I hope so.
There are some definite Soviet overtones throughout. The men walking down the street look like they are right out of Spy Game. It's like the cold makes them scowl this defiant face that says "You can't break me!" This perception may also come from a long held belief of mine that anyone speaking Russian is talking about rockets, missiles, and microfilm. It seems so secretive and exciting that way. All I hear in my head is "Tell me vhere da zecret rocket planz are!" when really all he said was "I'd like a beef stroganoff plate with rice, please." And never before have had I wanted to take up smoking so badly. Everybody cool's doing it! The thought of having something warm fill my lungs seems luxurious in this cold. It would certainly make the long walk to the Internet café seem to go quicker. Then again, I guess diminished lung capacity would make it longer still. Oh and the walk to the café is maybe 200 to 300 steps from the front door of our hotel. How's that for a distorted perspective, huh?
Notes and Thoughts:
In the evening, we enjoyed the company of our travel partners. They invited us over to their apartment for dinner, card games, and a few loads of laundry. It was nice to sit around the table with them and trade cute stories about our beautiful children. Also our clothes are much cleaner feeling coming from a washing machine than from all the sink washing we've done.
It was Sunday today and the baby house has a different schedule. Instead of visiting twice, we just visited once today. Our poor little girl has a case of the sniffles and wasn't feeling like her chipper self. While it isn't fun to see her feel bad, it is nice to hold her and enjoy some quiet time. Most of her time with us has been so activity driven that the change of pace today was welcome. Toward the middle of our visit, she melted into Mommy's arms for a little snooze, and all three of us just relished in the cuddle time.
Since we had a free afternoon, we took advantage of an offer to travel to where our daughter was born. Temirtau is a smaller town in Karaganda region (Karaganda is the state and city we are staying in) where the industry is dominated by one of the largest steel plants in Kazakhstan. It was neat to see the place where she was born and take a few minutes to walk around the town snapping pictures.
Well, its getting to be time to go back to the hotel. Anyone have a cigarette?
Prayer requests: Slowly but surely we're feeling better and enjoying more energy in the evenings, which is wonderful. Both of us even fell back to sleep this morning after our usual 5 am wake up! Hooray!
We still ask for your prayers for both Sasha and Jamie's health, and please join us in prayer now that we are granted a court date very soon after our bonding period is over (still 8 days away). There's a new judge in the region and dates have been a little slower coming than "usual" (if you can use that word), so please pray for favor in the processing of our paperwork, granting of court dates, and in the judge's eyes as we make Sasha an official Morningstar!