Russian Word of the Day

  • present = padarak

Thursday, March 12, 2009

We're Here!

We’re here! We’re here! We’re here!
The flights couldn’t have been smoother. We actually got bulkhead seating on the longest leg of the journey, so Tim was able to cross his legs. Ohhh! The luxury. And, Luftansa was fancy. Even in our econo-seats, the flight attendents kept coming around offering free wine and beer. In those moments when Calvin was happily entertained (thank you leapfrog), it was sort of like a party in the plane!

Did I mention that Calvin did great! He didn’t sleep, mind you. Let me repeat that, even without a nap, he was too excited to close his eyes on our first 12 hour flight! He finally fell asleep at the airport in Frankfurt between our two flights. It was 3:30am California time before he finally succumbed to exhaustion. Mommy, Daddy, and Nana were ready a little before then! But, all and all, he did great. He was so happy playing with his toys and watching his movies and eating snacks. He kept turning to me and saying: “Mommy, this plane is FUN!”
So, after a 12 hour flight from SFO, we laid over in Frankfurt (home of the crankiest airport staff and the most thorough security checks) for 3 hours. Then we hopped a 7 hour flight from Frankfurt to Almaty, KZ. When we got off the plane, Calvin had finally reached the end of his rope and, with baggage and snow jackets, and a thrashing 3 year-old, the passport check line was one of the more exhausting moments of my life.
We had a brief moment of panic when we didn’t see any drivers waiting in the baggage claim area. Our agency had told us that the driver would be there, but it was 1am local time and we wouldn’t even know where to begin if we had somehow been forgotten. Anyway, that worry was forgotten, when the first passenger claimed his bag and walked to the opaque sliding door at the end of the room. Even at 1am, that door opened up to reveal a veritable sea of taxi drivers… and there standing cool as a cucumber in the back of the room with a sign that said SNYDER was our Sasha.
Let me take a moment to describe Sasha to you all, because trust me, it’s worth it to get a mental picture of the guy. He’s about 32 years old, Russian features, about 6’2”, average build. In the four times that he has picked us up, so far, we have never seen him without the black leather hair scarf (think Harley Davidson) and knock-off Oakley reflective sunglasses. He’s got a shoulder length pony tail and a carefully groomed stubble beard. He is constantly talking in rapid Russian on his cell phone and he has a TV glowing in the dashboard of his car (while driving). Mostly, though, I think it’s the attitude that makes Sasha the man he is. Sasha exudes an air of barely veiled frustration with his lot in life. He has, after all, been saddled with a group of very annoying Americanskis. We are forever asking him questions about our itinerary or his hometown, when it should be very obvious that he simply wants to talk on his phone and listen to 1970s classic rock in peace. It is all the poor guy can do grunt an almost-contemptuous three word answer at us and turn up Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust in time for the chorus. Everything we do annoys Sasha, in fact, our mere presence annoys Sasha, but being the tough guy that he is, he soldiers on anyway.
Sasha attitude aside, everything has been going just perfectly. Our apartment is clean and comfortable. It even has a little playground covered in snow just outside, perfect for a very restless 3-year-old I know.

The grocery shopping is amazing! Honesty, I might just decide to live at the local Ramstore. I’ve heard about these stores on other blogs for years, but nothing quite prepared me for the wonder of the mall/high-end boutique/ arcade/costco/grocery store in one. It even has an ice-skating rink. This place has a whole wall of cheeses and strange stubby carrots as this as my wrist. I want to try it all! Tim and I, as tired as we are, were like kids in a candy store. In fact, as I type, Tim is whipping up a tasty meal in our little kitchen.

While, Nana tried to keep Calvin from eating the snow in the little playground (a definite ambition of his), Tim and I hitched a ride with Sasha to our first meeting with the famous “sisters” who run the Kazakhstan side of the adoption. Can I just say how incredibly relieved I feel after an hour with Gulzhan. We are in such good hands here! They are taking care of everything just as promised and I am utterly confident that they have got it all taken care of. After all this time of planning and pushing, I think I finally get to put myself in their capable hands and simply enjoy this amazing moment with my new little family.
Tomorrow we are back on a plane. Sasha is picking us up, one final time, at 4:00am, and putting us on a plane to Astana. Our new driver, Nursultan, will pick us up at the airport and drive us all to the babyhouse for our first really big day… when we meet our baby! After our first visit, we’ll drive the hour to our cottage in Kokshetau… where we’ll collapse.
Collapsing sounds pretty good right now! I’m beat.



Jennifer M said...

I loved, loved, loved the description of Sasha! I'm still laughing about it. So right on!

Same goes with Gulzhan. Once we met her, we knew all was going to be good.

Glad you made it there safely!

Anonymous said...

Dear Rebecca, Tim, Kathy and Calvin,

We are delighted to hear that you made it safe and sound.

Rebecca, fantastic description of your first "daze" in the country. As tired as you must be you painted such a clear picture of your amazing experience.

We loved all of the pictures especially those of Garrett and his new family. (:-)

Take good care.
Love you,
Aunt Patrice and Uncle Makel