Off to the gym at 8. We're ping-ponging by 9 and it's clear in the early going today is my day. Our plan is to play 13 games - Bob's "lucky number" - but the game tally is 3-0 in my favor after just ten minutes and at 6-1 in games, we revise from 13 to 11. Final game tally: Pat 9 and Bob 2. Summer series scoreboard: Pat 30 and Bob 25. Order has been restored to the cosmos.
After the gym, Alli and I head for the park to do a little reading. Moments after we arrive, we hear what sounds like marching band music. We wander over to the plaza near the statue of
"The Smart Guy" to find what appears to be a high school band playing while similarly young people wearing matching t-shirts and caps and carrying signs, banners and flags gather. On a small stage behind a bank of five or six microphones, a young man (no older than 18-19) leads the gathering crowd in several cheers and songs. The band plays - including the movie theme from The Godfather (more on that later) - and several numbers feature audience participation.
The band applauds the audience, who respond in kind with the "We Are Good" cheer we heard
at the soccer game the other night. It's beautifully sunny and very warm: Signs and banners are soon used for shade. At 11:15, a contingent of government officials arrives - including the head of the Kostanai Region, the leader (mayor) of Kostanai town and several others (a similar group to that which we saw at the graduation ceremony a few weeks back). Speeches ensue and we leave around 11:30 so we can eat a quick brunch - yogurt and cereal - and get ready for our walk to the baby home, which today will include videotaping....
The attempt to capture the sights and sounds we experience every day on our walk to and from the baby home makes the walk seem to fly by. It's interesting to decide what to film, what to try to convey in terms of some flavor for this country and its people. On the way, Alli and I decide we will take the kids for a walk in their Snugglis and videotape the exterior of the baby home, too.
Alli grabs Molly and I get Aidan. It was VERY warm on the walk over and I cringe as the care- giver dresses Aidan in a long-sleeve/long-pants one piece sleeper with socks. There's no fight- ing city hall in any language here, though, so we quietly sweat our way to the marble room for a brief period of play before heading outside. The kids enjoy the ride and, with the sun peeking in and out of the gathering clouds, Mom and Dad enjoy it too. Molly helps with the narration in a couple of places on the video, which includes footage of the kids' outdoor living quarters and the various gardens around the grounds.
After our visit, we return on the bus with Olesya: She and Bob head off for the open air market (the one with the better selection of foods), while Beth, Alli and I go to the internet cafe. Beth finishes early and returns to the hotel. Alli is done with her Blog entry (June 30) and a quick check of e-mail @ 4:30 and hurries back to the hotel for her 5 PM full-body massage appoint- ment. She's nervous as she heads off: She's never had a massage like this before and the woman will likely not speak any English. I'm anxious for her full report later....
I finish my Blog entry (June 29) and reply to a couple of e-mails. As I'm wrapping up, I notice the woman next to me is reading MSN's website in English! Not sure of the protocol concerning eavesdropping on one's neighbor's monitor, I take a shot and ask if she's American. She is, her name is Tanya ("... fits right in here.." she tells me), she is from Colorado and is in Kostanai with the Peace Corps. She's been here for more than a year, inquires about how our process is going and expresses her relief that things are going well for us, as she has heard more than one story about things not going very well for others. She's nearing decision time on whether to go home or re-up for another year. I hope we'll see her again whatever she decides.
Back at the hotel, the door to our room is closed and Alli is not in Bob and Beth's room. Olesya had told Alli the massage could take up to ninety minutes, and not wanting to interrupt, I hand out with Bob and Beth. At 6:30 I hear what I think is our door closing and call the phone in our room. Alli answers: The masseusse just left and Alli feels wonderful. She comes next door to fill us in: Beginning with her scalp, the woman - who also works at the baby home (yes, the babies get massage therapy!) and from whom Olesya gets her massages - massaged every limb, joint and muscle from head to toe. Alli's apprehension melted away, replaced by relaxation and rejeuvenation. The fee for a ninety minute full-body massage? 2000 tenghe including tip (or about $15)!!!!
Dinner at The Dom: pork shishkabob! Dana stops by @ 6:50 breathless with news: Bob had wanted to have a photo of Nicholas reproduced in a drawing, and Dana noticed an artist in the park on her way to the hotel. On our walk to the restaurant, we stop by to see the artist - he tells Bob (through Dana) he'll need 15-20 minutes. We go across the street to the restaurant and place our order. Bob and Dana go back to the park and return moments later with the drawing (charcoal, I think) just as our food begins to arrive at the table.
Following dinner, we walk Dana 1/2-way home and return to the hotel. While Alli's napping, I slip out at 10 PM to film the phenomenon of bright daylight at that late hour. Back in the room at 10:30, I get Alli her nightly bedtime snack - ice cream bar tonight - and continue reading The Da Vinci Code. We're having our room cleaned tomorrow morning at 9 and Dana is coming to take us to the open air market (the one known better for its clothing and other wares) at 10. Lights out at midnight with the alrm set for 8....
Almost forgot: the Godfather music.... You might recall that on the very first day we arrived in Kostanai, after we were met at the airport and whisked to the baby home, we were introduced to Dr. Irina, head doctor of the home and, as alluded to previously, quite an imposing woman. The four of us were seated on one side of a table with Olesya and Dr. Irina and a woman from the Ministry of Social Work (or something like that) were seated on the other. Dr. Irina was asking us some fairly basic questions about ourselves and our decision to adopt, including whether we thought we would recognize our children when they were brought into the room. As we were working hard to answer her questions coherently following thirty hours of travel and very little sleep, and fearing a wrong answer might somehow jeopardize the process in some way, the radio audible behind the doctor began to play the theme music from The Godfather. Bob and I looked at each other like "What offer won't we be able to refuse...?" and to this day we laugh when we remember that moment.