Sorry, but I still can't send pictures.
Well, what do you say on the last full day of your stay in Kazakhstan? When we first arrived, the days stretched off into the future, into a dark abyss with no bottom. The thought of endless weeks in a tiny apartment in a strange country with hot water only a possibility, with my children mourning my absence at home, was daunting and depressing. However, I compartmentalized my fear and my sadness, and put it away for later. On the conscious level, I went through each early day as a robot, performing the mundane tasks to get ready for the day and driving to the Baby House. It was only when I saw Karina/Melanie that I would let my emotions out, to embrace her, to bond with her, and to allow her to bond with us. Then it was time to close emotional shop again, and back at the apartment, I would, in a sort of self-preservation, "check out", or sleep to while away the hours. Every morning I would find myself doing what I had done the day before, time after time. And before I knew it, I was beginning to enjoy myself! The sights I would see on the route to the Baby House became familiar: the "avtomoyka" or car wash, "magazin" or store (dyken in Kazakh) and the little kafe where you turned left towards the Baby House. Every day became something to look forward to! Our relationship with Aida became closer by the day, and we joked and laughed together like old friends. We recognized her trademark knock on the door ... usually followed by coughing, since she was so sick that one week. We made friends with Corey & Christie, and enjoyed sampling many of the restaurants in TaldyKorgan. We learned about the local culture and history and learned to love our home away from home.
Now it is the day before we fly home! The early days here may have been difficult, but now I feel sad to be leaving. I don't know when I'll be back.
Melanie decided to do the "newborn" routine last night .. she was up every two hours, starting at 1 a.m. So much for my plan to put her naptime back on track. We finally got up for the day at 7, and waited for Charlotte to call. Mom and I started packing our stuff ... and generally relaxed around the apartment all morning. I put Melanie down for a nap at 1 and she went right down. At 3:00 Vitallik arrived and we went to the Sisters' office. We had a final chat with Gulzhan, and then, with three other families, the Gaffneys, the Allens, and the Balmasedas, we walkedacross the street to where the consular section of the US Embassy is. It is in a tall office building, but we had to go through pretty significant security before we were allowed inside. They took out my USAirways headphones, my Ibuprofen, my Purell hand sanitizer, and my drivers' license. Hmmm. A security guard who looked like every Russian stereotypical "comrade" took us up in the elevator. We paid our fees, then were called up to a window to have a little chat with an American consular officer. Then, we were done! We were the only ones there, unlike three years ago when we were adopting Lisa. We had to go through Moscow back then, and there were about 30 people crammed into a small room that day. Overall, this has been a pretty smooth experience.
We took pictures with Gulzhan and Gulnara ... and with Gulbanu. We have known Gulbanu for over three years, and she is practically family. We had brought her some duct tape (I think it's a running gag now) and got a big laugh out of that!
Mom and I decided to celebrate by going to the Hyatt Regency Hotel to have a drink at the bar. Talk about luxury! We listened to an American (Canadian?) businessman negotiating (through an interpreter) with a table of Kazakh men behind us as we sipped on our martini (mom) and Tien Shan beer (me). We enjoyed the atmosphere, complete with brass fixtures and marble fountains. I guess it was worth paying 600 tenge for the International Herald Tribune, just to be there! The best part was when we stepped back outside to leave, and our limo driver, Vitallik, roared up in the van to meet us! We felt quite posh!
Now we are hunkering down having a dinner of roasted chicken and stir-fried potatoes. We're doing one more sweep of TSUM to see if we missed anything, then home to pack for our 12:15 pickup. <groan> Let the torture begin!