Sunday, April 6, 2008

Almaty, Kazakhstan

We made it to Almaty without incident. Our flight arrived at 5:00a.m. local time and we made it through customs, retrieved luggage, exchanged money and checked into our hotel all by 6:00 a.m., that’s fast! We’re staying at Hotel Kazzhol. Our room is tiny but clean, and it’s hard to say what to compare it to in the States. We stayed awake long enough to have breakfast and then took a 4 hour nap. We forced ourselves to wake up and shower around one o’clock. We then headed out for a walk and to find the Kazakh restaurant the hotel receptionist recommended.

The city streets of Almaty were very quiet. Not many people out and about for such a warm and beautiful day. We had a traditional Kazakh meal – but I admit I can’t quite figure out what “Kazakh” food really entails. We both had a salad called “Kazakhstan Salad” (imagine that) which was delicious. I ordered a chicken dish that had an Asian flare to it and Jesse had “beef and potatoes”. He cleaned his plate! Maybe if I’m ever brave enough to order lamb (head included, so the menu said) or horse stew I’ll be better able to describe Kazakhstan food.

It’s amusing to me to watch the communications between two people who don’t speak the same language. Both parties get this little nervous laugh and shake their heads yes but have no idea what they’re laughing about or agreeing to. Jesse wanted a small Sprite at the restaurant, but we both ended up with 1 liter bottles---could have been worse. Most people we’ve encountered so far speak English, just not the restaurant staff.

Upon returning to the hotel we stopped in the lobby to talk with two other adoptive families. One family was returning home with their adorable son and the other just arrived today to start the process.

Tonight it’s off to bed early because we’re being picked up at 5:30 a.m. for our flight to Shymkent. Tomorrow should be a big day!