Friday, April 25, 2008

Court Date

Our court date has been set!

We go to court on Monday at noon. (7 days exactly from our last bonding day). I think Nurshia had to pull a few strings to get us to court so quickly. She ask for copies of our plane tickets to show the courts.

We'll go to court Monday, then flight from Shymkent to Almaty on Tuesday, then fly home on Wednesday. We leave Wednesday morning here, travel for 23 hours, but still get home Wednesday night there. I'm sure our heads will be spinning for a few days.

English Class

It’s Thursday night here in Shymkent and we’ve had a long but fulfilling day. We started the day with a visit to the baby house. Griffin’s new health issue is being addressed and seems to be getting better. The Baby House doctor requested we go buy him medicine and bring it to them. We set our driver right away to purchase an antibiotic and cream. We also practiced walking today. With Jesse holding one hand and me the other he walked the length of the room and back. It’s a huge improvement from day one when he couldn’t / wouldn’t take a step. The cute thing is how he gets excited about his accomplishment. His smile is infectious.

After the baby house visit we had to grab a quick lunch. We go to the mall and walk up to the “pizza” place. The girl that works there starts entering our order without us saying anything. We’ve only eaten there three times and she knows exactly what we like. Doesn’t she know we like struggling through the ordering process?  Don’t take away our fun!

Later in the afternoon we were invited to The English Center to work with students learning to speak English. The students sign up for the free class to help them learn to speak 'conversational' English. It’s not often they get to practice speaking English with people other than their teacher, Frances, who is from Texas, so they were eager to talk. The class was divided into 4 groups and we Americans rotated through the groups. (Michael and Graham Dickey were with us. They’ve been there before).

It was a great experience. The language barrier has really hampered our ability to learn about the true Kazakhstan culture. So far our only source of knowledge has been from a select few, which are primarily Zhenia, Ulia, and John Paul.  Remember, we can’t read the papers or understand the local news stations on TV. Today we had the ability to ask questions to about 20 students who were willing and able to communicate with us. They in turn asked us questions about our lives or American culture.

I was asked very basic questions like… “Do you like your husband?” I had to answer yes since Jesse was sitting at the next table. “Are you a tourist in our city?” I didn’t realize Shymkent was a hot spot for tourism. “Do you like our food?” Let me set the record straight, in America we do not eat horses.

Q&A from me to them.
Q: Age to get married? A: 18 – 24. Usually the bride goes to live with his parents, which they help to support.  Don't get any ideas Maw-Maw and Papa...

Q: Places you’d like to see in America? A: Florida, California, and New York.

Q: Do you watch American movies? A: Yes, they watch all American movies, translated into Russian.

Q: Do you like American music? A: Yes. (By the way, they play American music everywhere and a lot of “raw” rap music. Obviously they don’t understand the words).  Beyonce was a favorite among one of the 'guy' tables.

When finished the evening by going to dinner with the Dickey's, their translator Erera and our shared driver Kostra. Kostra is a blast to be around. He speaks Russian but talks to us directly like we understand him. Erera spends a lot of time translating and is usually laughing as she does so. It's really amusing. We went to an Uzbek restaurant where we sat on pillows around a ground level table. We ordered a bunch of food and shared it. An evening that will surely be one of our best in Kazakhstan.  We'll soon have pictures posted to view.

Quick story about our old driver. We had scheduled for him to pick us up at 6:00 in the evening to take us to a Chinese restaurant on Wednesday. We usually walk everywhere, so it was a special request. He did not show up to get us. The next day Nurshai (our coordinator) apologized to us. She said, "we had an agreement, he broke the agreement, you have a new driver". Alrightly then... nothing more to be said.

Jesse here -- one quick addition.  After Nurshai has made her impassioned apology and is satisfied that she has adequately dealt with the problem, she proudly asks that we follow her to our new car and driver to head off to our daily baby house visit. As we get to the corner of the road where we typically meet the car, she slowly starts to look around, then stops. A grin emerges on her face. Then she busts out laughing. Our new driver is nowhere to be found! Her moment of redemption appears to be slipping by, but fortunately Kostra arrives a minute later, all smiles and personality (unlike our prior driver). At least everyone has been able to keep their sense of humor throughout this ordeal!