Leaving Kostanai and Reaching Almaty

November 9, 2008 at 4:13 am 6 comments

Posts are going in a day or so late due to Internet connections and lack of baby naps. (-:

Sunday, November 9, 2008: Day 1 in Almaty and Day 68 in Kazakhstan

Before leaving we had some firsts:

dinnerbathKairat had his first time eating in a restaurant where I learned to not bring bananas as finger food. Bread is much less messy.

He also loves taking a bath which means splashing endlessly until the last of the water disappears down the drain.

My last few days in Kostanai were busy ones. It snowed a couple days ago and, as I said quickly in my previous post, once in snows it stays. In fact, on our way to the airport this morning my coordinator said that it snows almost every day once it begins.

court_snowWe managed to hit three seasons in Kostanai: the end of summer, fall, and now winter. I think winter is my favorite, although I only get to experience the very beginning and not the bitter cold that comes as the season lengthens. Why is it my favorite? Because it is the most quiet. As soon as the snow came, our apartment courtyard and the Kostanai streets were silent. Ahhh…two peaceful nights of sleep before Kairat and I left.

As we ran errands for the past few days to get ready for our trip home, Kairat attracted much attention. There are a few things that catch someone’s eye as we pass by. First, I am carrying him around in an Ergo baby carrier. Baby carriers are not a typical mode for transporting a child. If a Kostanai baby isn’t in a carriage they are being carried and lugged around by one parent or the other.

walking_clothesSecondly, Kairat has been wearing this goofy hat that I bought on sale last winter. He looks like a jester preparing to perform and attracts smiles and looks as we walk through town. The third attention grabber is, I think, the fact that he is just so darn cute and that he stares a person down the second they make eye contact with him.

We were stopped on our walk the other day by city workers scraping ice from the walkways, two elderly gentlemen with a lot of gold teeth and kind words, and our neighbor who was excited to be meeting Kairat for the first time. The day was so beautiful: clear and crisp with blue skies and just the right temperature. “A perfect ski day,” was the most prevalent thought I had as we strolled around the park and square.
big_ben ferris_wheel 41642

Leaving Kostanai is bitter sweet. Part of me hates to go while another part is dying to get home. I could easily live here for awhile and may return at some point if there is still a need for teachers who are native speakers of English to teach the language or, as I was asked, science in English. (Have I told you about my job offer in this Blog? I guess that will have to wait.)

Packing seemed crazy and I’m amazed that I fit everything into the bags that I had. Even though I thought our baggage was only slightly heavy, I accrued more overweight luggage fees than Doug. I don’t see how that is possible as I couldn’t even lift his two bags, unless the true test of cost comes down to the mood of those in charge. If this is the case, the people in front of me that spent ten minutes arguing with the officials because they didn’t want to pay a fee (and they weren’t Americans) must have cost me a few extra tenge.

fake_cryRising at 5 a.m. to take a shower before Prince Charming awoke, we were ready to go and left the apartment just after 8 a.m. We arrived at the airport just in time to check in and, with some help and extra fees; Kairat and I were relaxing in the airport terminal by 9 a.m. [The picture at the right is Kairat’s fake cry look.]

The people on our flight were very kind. A woman and two men chatted with Kairat and I while we waited for the plane (in both English and Russian) and many other passengers offered to help us with our carry-on bags, seats in the trolley heading out to the plane, and more. Very helpful and nice!

Because Kairat was the youngest child on the flight, we were the first to board the plane and had our choice of seats. I made the mistake of moving to the front of the plane to the bulkhead seat where we would have the most legroom. Little did I realize, until the plane began to taxi to the runway, that the propellers were right beside our window. Absolutely deafening is how I would describe the noise and I spent the first hour of the flight trying to calculate how much hearing loss would occur from this experience while pressing my fingers over my sleeping baby’s ears. Like many things in life, “live and learn”.

I will say that after Kairat woke up the noise didn’t seem quite so bad and we did have a lot of room so maybe space was a just trade for my ringing ears this evening. Kairat faired the 4-hour trip well and actually took a second nap after his lunch and slept right through the landing.

Our assigned Almaty driver met us at the gate and brought us to our hotel that I thought was the Hotel Kazzhol, but is actually a different hotel that is in the same building but using a separate entrance. I don’t quite understand this yet but hope to find out more tomorrow.

Our beginnings here were a bit frustrating as I didn’t quite understand all of what our driver was telling me (his English is good, but not good enough to explain adoption details), no one at the hotel spoke English, Kairat was incredibly fussy (starving, as I found out later), the hotel cost more than I was expecting and I couldn’t figure out how I was suppose to connect to the Internet. (Come to find out, the Internet connection is 1,000 tenge per hour, or a little over $8 at the current exchange rate.) As a result of my receiving unclear information in relation to our adoption process (I could handle the other stuff on my own), I sent out SOS emails to our coordinators in Kazakhstan and the U.S. in reference to adoption stuff and received two very helpful phone calls tonight. THANK YOU!!

After finally settling in and figuring out how to get on-line, I emailed Doug and felt much better. As Kairat and I were getting used to our hotel room, a very pleasant employee came in and made up Kairat’s crib and tried talking with me a little bit. Once I told her Kairat’s name, she was very pleased and introduced us to everyone at the desk when we went downstairs to the lobby a bit later. (Doug, I’ve been telling everyone that he looks like “Pa-pa” when they ask. And they do ask!)

Initially, upon our arrival, I was very tense with the front desk people. Not because they weren’t trying to be helpful but because I was trying to process too much information in regards to the hotel stay, was attempting to understand our driver and his instructions, and was simultaneously trying to keep Kairat from screaming (he was already crying). I felt sorry afterwards because they have all been incredibly nice. It is kind of homey here in a way.

Unfortunately, in my haste in leaving Kostanai I forgot to purchase a “hot-pot” to use to heat Kairat’s food. Part of his frustration today was that he was served cold formula, something he will not drink. It doesn’t help that his first tooth is just about through his gums making him less patient than usual. I am now on a quest to find this implement that was once common to all college students. A Sunday evening search just after dusk was not successful so I will venture out tomorrow.

Kairat’s late nap and cold food seem to put him in a terrible mood this evening and he didn’t go to sleep until almost 9 p.m. Poor little guy. In only two weeks he’s moved from the baby house to an apartment and now a hotel room. With all of that considered, I think he is doing fairly well. I have a feeling that I’m going to have to wake him early in the morning to get him back into his routine and so we don’t miss breakfast! (I did bring his evening bottle downstairs to the front desk and they heated it in the employee break room for me.)

It looks as though I’ll have plenty of time to catch up on journaling although not as much time to be playing on-line. While Kairat is sleeping I will probably by typing or reading, which is a good thing. Right now, I’m finishing my dinner of little bagel like treats that are slightly sweet but more similar to bread and a piva (I needed one) and then I am heading to bed. It is just after 10:30 p.m. and I don’t really know what is in store for us tomorrow, so I want to be ready.


Entry filed under: Kazakhstan Adoption.

New Pictures… Acclimating to Almaty

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Susan  |  November 11, 2008 at 11:41 am

    hey hey-glad you made it and are getting things figured out.
    Our apt had a super cool hot pot-I had never seen one of those before-I was impressed. we didn’t use it for Leeza-since she is off formula-but we used it for our coffee. 🙂

    you are going home in 3 days!!!
    I, for one, and so grateful we were gone by the time winter hit-while you love it-me-and leeza-not so much
    she is very happy to go sockless and wear her bathing suit and go in the pool and to the beach. 🙂

    I wish you an uneventful trip home and i’m sure people will be so nice to you.
    having a cute baby certainly helps-Leeza also attracts much attn wherever we go-people tell her how pretty she is and she blows them kisses. 🙂

    you are ALMOST HOME!
    I bawled my eyes out as our plane took off from Kostanai-Joe said PAKA PAKA kosttanai and my eyes filled with tears.

    I am so happy to be home but i will say i do miss it-I miss tatiana and ivan and eugene and the food!!

    I hope that Kairat’s tooth comes in so he is a happier camper and that he will crash on the flights for you-Leeza was more interested in charming everyone around her-which made it hard-but the Ergo was a LIFESAVER (WE STILL use it ALL THE TIME!!) SO mom could pass out and she could paint my face with magic marker. 🙂

    Much Love and safe trips home and no more frustrations.
    soon everynoe will speak english-and it’s SO WEIRD AT FIRST.


  • 2. Tricia  |  November 11, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Kelly, You are doing so well there on your own! That first day in Almaty was disorienting to me as well. You will get into a grove before you know it and piva sure does help, too 🙂 You are coming home soon. So exciting! I am wishing you the best for the flights home and will pray that K snoozes away. A job opportunity? I can’t wait to hear about that! Good luck with your travels home and your final days in Almaty. Hugs, Tricia

  • 3. Tricia  |  November 11, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Oh, I forgot to tell you that BA and Greg came over last night and I got to see the photos and video that you sent them with the three kids together. That was precious!

  • 4. ellen  |  November 11, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Job offer ?? NOOOOOO, we want you back HERE!
    Good luck on the rest of your journey, this is so exciting.
    Thanks for posting all the pictures, Mark and I have enjoyed looking at them.
    See you soon, I hope !!
    Just think, you’ll be home for a New England Thanksgiving, and what a thanksgiving it will be. Perfect.

  • 5. karen  |  November 11, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    oh my gosh—your little boy is the cutest. no wonder everyone has to stop and stare.

  • 6. Jennifer M  |  November 13, 2008 at 2:12 am

    He is just so incredibly adorable!! I”m glad you made it to Almaty safely. One step closer to home!


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