Acclimating to Almaty

November 10, 2008 at 1:14 am 1 comment

Although this occurred almost a year ago, I am just posting this from my Kazakhstan journal. I wasn’t able to post it then due to poor Internet connection. Today’s date is 11-7-09.

Monday, November 10, 2008: Day 2 in Almaty and Day 69 in Kazakhstan

IMG_1895I’m not going to pretend that staying in a hotel alone with a 9 month old for a week with nothing to do except a couple scattered appointments is easy because it is not. I’ve dealt with more difficult circumstances but I’ll be happy when this stay is over. Maybe it is because I am incredibly anxious to get home or perhaps it is the boredom. Either way, these next few days are going to seem like an eternity.

It’s funny how waiting to go to Kazakhstan seemed to take forever and now the day we are to leave for home feels further and further away. (Tricia, wasn’t it you that shared the same sentiments not too long ago?)

IMG_1909Trying to keep some sort of baby routine is proving difficult as our only appointment today was right in the middle of Kairat’s afternoon nap time. That wouldn’t seem so bad except that he doesn’t fall asleep as easily when we are confined to the same room, so a late nap time becomes no nap time. One thing I love about this kid is that he likes to take his naps and he typically quickly falls asleep. Not this week.

Despite my moaning above, the day went by fairly quickly (until the evening). The unheated baby formula this morning wasn’t well received but breakfast went much better. The hotel offers a morning meal with the stay so Kairat and I went downstairs at 8 a.m. and proceeded to drag out our dining experience as long as possible.

The buffet had a nice selection of hot cereal along with various meats, yogurts, sausages, and other delicacies that looked as though they belonged on a dinner plate. The item I was most excited for was their instant coffee. Kairat and I had been up for at least two hours and I hadn’t had a drop of caffeine. Ahh…it was wonderful!

I had planned on serving Kairat some of the prepared cereals but after tasting them decided against it. Their flavors were fine but, like most things in Kazakhstan, they were laced with sugar. It is amazing how sweet the sweets are as well as many other foods you wouldn’t expect to be sugary. Instead, Kairat sufficed on bread and a jar of fruit (typical baby food) I brought along.

The waitresses were certain to greet Kairat, as did many of the other guests who dined aside us. It is hard to not interact with a baby who typically stares, smiles, talks to, and claps his hands at anyone within his view. He demands attention and I’m glad he accepts it from others once he warms up to them.

Upon returning to the room, Kairat was ready for a morning nap (around 10 a.m.). Lasting only 45 minutes, he awoke with smiles when he saw me sitting beside his crib. After some quick baby stuff, we headed out to find a hot pot, a Kairat soccer team jersey, and maybe even the large TSUM (mall) we had heard so much about from others who have journeyed here.

IMG_1918Success was found by walking two or three blocks from the hotel where we happened upon the TSUM. Reputed to have the best souvenirs in all of Kazakhstan, Kairat and I headed to the third floor to see what new treasures we could discover. I have to say that all reports are true. There is quite a selection of high quality items throughout this third floor. Some are very expensive and found much cheaper in Kostanai, while others are quite reasonable. Unfortunately, my bags are already overflowing with just our clothes and baby necessities, however I might sneak back before the end of the week to look for a couple small items.

When I asked a question of a retailer in one of the more reasonably priced shops another Kazakh woman, who was also shopping, asked in English if she could be of some help translating what I was looking for. As we began to talk, she asked why I was in Kazakhstan and I told her the actual reason; to adopt Kairat. (She’s the first person that I have revealed my true purpose of visiting Kazakhstan and she was very supportive.) Once finding out his origins, she graciously offered her email in case I was in need of anything during our stay. A resident of Almaty, she is married to an American and travels to the U.S. periodically to visit his family. She also offered to keep in contact with us so that Kairat can have a chance to interact with someone from Kazakhstan, she and her two children. I’ll look forward to that visit someday and a chance to get to know her and her family.

Our time at the TSUM was cut short by the fact that we needed to eat and get ready to leave for Kairat’s medical IMG_1899appointment. On our walk Sunday evening I had noticed a Kafe, or deli, near the hotel so before returning to our room we stopped in to see what was available. I ended up purchasing two mini pizzas about 5” in diameter and two items that looked like giant spring rolls (about the size of the pizzas) that were stuffed with sautéed carrots, onions, and maybe something else. Upon sampling them, I found that the outer covering was actually pasta and the filling, delicious. These things are great!

I didn’t buy all of this food for one meal. It was meant to suffice me for a few meals as I don’t always know when I am going to get a chance to eat. This deli is extremely convenient and the food is fantastic so I have a feeling that it will become my primary means of sustenance during my stay in Almaty.

IMG_1892The doctor’s visit went well and Kairat is in all expected ranges and has incredible balance while sitting. (The doctor gently tried to push him over but did not succeed.) Unfortunately, this appointment took place during Kairat’s typical nap time and it was well after 4 p.m. by the time we returned to the hotel. As a result, the only nap the little guy got was in the car on the drive back.

He did go to bed fairly early, but this stay has been tough on him. Nap times are interrupted, he dislikes store bought “baby food” immensely, his bottles are being served to him at a cooler temperature than he is used to, and now he’s come down with a little cold which I think is a result from lack of sleep. (Trust me. He is certainly dressed warmly enough. I wouldn’t dare not to as everyone that comes in contact with him is tucking in his shirt, straightening his hat, closing windows on his appearance, and generally making sure that cold air does not touch him.)

I have been incredibly impressed by the hotel staff here. They have been absolutely amazing in their help and IMG_1913kindness towards Kairat and I. (I’m not actually sure how to write the name of the hotel in English. I think it is the Hotel Aul or Hotel Uyut. I’m not sure on the Russian translation and the Internet fees are too darn expensive to just pop on-line and look it up.) Either way, most of the employees make a fuss over Kairat every time we pass by and they’ve all been a great help in trying to understand what I was asking for and also trying to get me what I need. It really is a nice, clean, homey place. Doug and I had stayed at the Hotel Kazakhstan on our way to Kostanai. It has a higher rating but I actually like this place much better. It feels kind of “homey” in a way and my room is much nicer than the one we had at the more expensive hotel.

Anyway…Kairat and I are finding our way around and will make do for the next few days. I’m sure we’ll keep ourselves busy, one way or another.


Entry filed under: Kazakhstan Adoption.

Leaving Kostanai and Reaching Almaty Another Day, Another Adventure

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