Russian Word of the Day

  • present = padarak

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring is Here!

Day 19

It's official. Spring has come to Kazakhstan. Though there is still nary a blade of green grass to be seen, the occurance of two sunny days in a row has wrought a change on the people of Kokshetau. Everyone is outside today. Grown women walk arm and arm in slightly thinner leather coats that usual. The last of the snow, sprayed brown from the sludge of passing cars, is being shoveled into the streets to melt. Families are tidying up the yards and walkways outside their homes, picking up bottles and wrappers that were left there all winter long. Kids are playing. Young mothers sit quietly on benches holding babies so heavily swaddled that they look like pastel bundles of laundry.

While the scenary is not alive with growth, there is a definate thawing in the people of Kazakhstan. The Kazakhs are soaking up the sun and I'm with them. It feels great!

As further evidence of spring, there are new fruit and vegis at the local market. Last week heralded the arrival of cucumbers, which we have consumed daily with the same moans of satisfaction typically reserved for decadent pieces of chocolate cake. Then yesterday, you could have blown me over with a feather, because Calvin greeted me at the door with... green grapes! I think I might actually have danced for joy. Today we found lettuce and parsley and bananas and were so proud that we actually took a picture of the bounty. This is what a couple weeks of late winter in Kazakhstan will do to you. Never again will I take Safeway for granted. I might even hug the clerk who is stocking peaches!
Oh, fun story... We were asking our driver Nursultan how he likes the van he just bought last week. He said that he liked it, but that the smell of the previous owner's smoking bothered him. At this our translator, Makhabbat, laughed and said that at least this car didn't smell like sheep. "Sheep?" we asked. Nursultan wouldn't explain, but Makhabbat was happy to. It seems that a couple months ago Nursultan offered to do a friend a favor by driving his sheep from one farm to another. At the time Nursultan only owned a 1994 Audi sedan. Makhabbat said that for weeks after chauffering the sheep, Nursultan's car smelled wretched. But, she added, at least he had transported it in the trunk of the car. Only in Kazakhstan would someone drive around with a live sheep in the trunk of an old audi! Classic.

I got some good pictures on the way to the babyhouse this morning. Nursultan agreed to stop at a WWII memorial in the little town that we pass through everyday. Here is what I saw-
A very moving farewell to fallen soliders.

A woman draws water up from a well and pours it into a large metal can. Her son sits on a fence and waits. Another local is on his way to the well with his bucket for pulling the water up and his large metal jug. There are lots of wells in this town and we see about a dozen people getting their water each day.

Tim got a picture that he's been wanting too. A mustang sign in Schuchinsk!
In other news, we have a very cute baby! Did you know? He was pretty cranky today because none of the babies would take their morning nap. All the same, he gave us a huge smile when we came in today, as if to say: "My Mommy and Daddy are here!"

We played for a little bit before he got super sleepy.

This is what Garrett looks like when he wants to take a nap and you won't let him. Poor little bumpkin!

When we were leaving for the day, the caregivers told us that Garrett (Ruslan as they call him) is a real American baby now because he has become more demanding. They say that we have spoiled him. I offered to take him off of there hands right now... but no luck!




Jodi said...


We are a fellow WPA family, home from Kokshetau for two years now (soooo hard to believe!) with our son Owen.

Just wanted to let you know I'm so enjoying following your journey, all the great pics (Viola got a face lift!), your descriptions of Kokshetau, etc.

Both your kids are super adorable, and I love that you are all really embracing the adventure!!

Continued blessings to you and enjoy every minute of your time in Kaz, because believe me, as rough as it sometimes is, you will miss it when you are back home! : )


Dean and Janie said...

Hi Becca,
We follow your blog each day. So glad your are doing such a fine job describing your experience in Kaz. It means so much. What a reality check (drawing water from well, pipes everywhere, lack of fresh veggies at certain times, and the reminder that Americans are "spoiled")And then of course, the reason for your journey. Thank you for helping to make life so real for us and for giving us a glimpse of what awaits.


The Ryan's said...

I so remember the sunny day that lifted my spirits! Life is so different when the sun comes out. I love the sweet baby pics and look forward to catching up on your blog each day. Enjoy!

Holly said...

Too precious - I am in love with Garrett's cheeks!

Love to you all and THANK YOU for "taking us with you" with this blog.