Tuesday, June 07, 2005

June 7th

After 23 hours of travel we arrived safely in Almaty Kazakhstan (6:00am local time). The trip was relatively uneventful but extremely long. We were well fed on both flights. Not much sleep on either. We found a "quite lounge" at the Heathrow Airport which featured uncomfortable lounge style chairs and caught a quick cat nap. Bob and Beth and Pat and I took turns watching the luggage while the others strolled around the airport. The flight from London to Almaty was a little "lumpy" as the pilot had warned. We stopped in Ekatrinburg Russia to refuel. We spent the hour wait chatting with the stewardess. We met a woman on the plane name Amanda who was adopting a little boy from Almaty. She was traveling with her mother Janis. She will most likely still be in Almaty when we return. We exchanged contact information and will try and get in touch with her when we get back. Going through customs was not bad at all. Several security guards assisted us with several forms which needed to be filled out (all this and no English spoken). We collected our bags, had the forms stamped and we were done. Two men holding an Adoptions From the Heart sign. They introduced themselves as Oleg and Nikolai. The agency had given us these names so as best we could tell these were our men. Oleg is the Almaty coordinator. Our bags were loaded in a van and we were driven to our hotel. Oleg informed us that he was having difficulty booking our flight to Kostanai and that we would not be leaving that evening. He got us settled in our rooms and told us that he would call later with an update on our flight. It was 7:00am and we were exhausted so we hopped into bed for some much needed rest (two tiny singles and yes my feet did hang over the end). We slept until 3:00pm when Oleg phoned to say that we would be flying out the next day at 12:55. This was happy news because we had been told earlier that the next available flight was Friday. After Oleg's call we got up, took a shower (plenty of hot water), and headed out to explore. Exchanging Dollars for Tenge was the first order of business. Money changing booths were readily available. We handed over $200 and received 26,300 TT (Kazakh Tenge). The rate is about 133 tenge to the dollar. We walked around town and took in the sights. The weather was beautiful. Sunny and warm. It was nice to be outside after beeing cooped up for the past two days. We ate at an outdoor cafe. We dined on a delicous meal of Kazakh rice (rice with beef, carrots and garlic), tomato and cucumber salad and chicken kabobs. We tried a local beer which was also good. More walking around after dinner. We stopped to watch a man singing and playing guitar. By that time it was 9:00pm and we decided to call it a night. We headed back to the hotel feeling good about our outing and proud that weren't flattened trying to cross the street. We got back to the hotel and Oleg called to confirm our flight. We'll be picked up at 11:00am. We fly from Almaty to Astana (1.5 hours) and from Astana to Kostanai with an 1 1/2 layover in between. We're not sure if we will see the kids upon our arrival since it will be later in the day but we'll see them on Thursday for sure. That's all for now.

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