Spending the day with the kids (I’ve forgotten how many days we’ve been here!)

This whole thing has been so surreal! Deana had a great day bonding with the children, who now know she will be their mama. It was so wonderful to watch. I will leave the details to Deana to write on her blog, but it has been truly a blessing to see everything occur!

Some other comments about Russia:

Imagine the worst road, with bumps, potholes, maybe a few speed bumps, etc. Now imagine driving that for three hours! (Part of it might be the effects of the snow, but still.)

Pedestrians do not have the right of way. Like other European countries, pedestrians better move or be killed.

I have not seen a Russian eat yet so far on this trip!

Gas costs up to .73 cents per liter.

Everyone walks everywhere, no matter that it’s 10 degrees outside.

We have seen several families with the babies in sleds, not strollers.

Deana and I seem to be a novelty at the hotel, as the only Americans here.

Russians exchange gifts on New Years Day just like we do on Christmas. Christmas is 1/7, but there are no traditions because they stopped celebrating Christmas under Soviet rule. It is not a national holiday even now. Then, on 1/14, they celebrate the “old year”, or the year passed. This coming year is the “Year of the Pig” – he is shown all over the place with Santa.

I was amazed that records are all kept in hand written form (one such record was in a book that looked like a comic book!). The histories of the children, the legal records, etc. are all hand written out on paper. No sign of computers or databases, etc. (Zack’s orphanage had one computer using Windows 2000 and floppy disks, but didn’t look heavily used.)

The clerks at the market (not Super….) sit at the registers, they don’t stand. The carts are about ¼ the size of American carts.

That’s all I can think of now. More later!

Sorry Rona, couldn’t think of any nerd-type items today! Maybe I am becoming less nerdy? Oh wait, I DID say database and floppy disk……

Russia Day Two – The Adoption Begins

Deana just got done with the interview with the MOE and all went well. It wasn’t hard at all and it seems she freaked out for nothing! Yes! I was able to go into the office with her so that was cool. We are now driving in a van to the two orphanages where the children are – three hours away! Deana will not meet them together but they are in the same region. It is a bumpy road so a bit hard to type so I will just capture some thoughts:

Lanes are subject to driver interpretation, much like in Italy and France.

Seatbelts are not used in Russia, at least that we’ve seen.

Today it is snowing huge flakes and right now it is about 12 degrees F.

Toilet paper here I believe is a hold over of KGB torture devices! It might as well be sand paper.

Spiceyva (not sure of spelling) means Thank You in Russian.

It doesn’t matter how nice your car is here, it will be trashed by the weather.

I am dying for a regular cup of black coffee, PLEASE!!!!

Russians seem like “regular people”. Not that they ever weren’t regular people, but growing up during the Cold War it seems they were demonized for me at a certain level. I have known several Russians, including Irina, so it’s not like I thought badly of them per se. But being here I realize they are very much like Americans in their looks, etc. I have enjoyed being exposed to their culture.

I wonder what the keyboard on Russian laptops look like?

Deana is very excited to have accomplished the interview and ready to meet the kids. I think the 3 hour drive is gonna kill her.

I am currently sitting in the car as we stopped to get water for the trip. Please God, I pray that Deana is getting some junk food too. LOL (She didn’t, maybe I prayed too late?)

I just now saw the first Toyota since arriving! I am not sure what model – looks to be early to mid 90’s.

When we arrived at the airport in Russia, there was no tunnel to get off the plane. Instead, we walked down stairs from the plane – yes, in the snow – hopped on a tram about 10 feet away, and were driven about 30 feet to the terminal, which was very, very small.

Did I mention it is cold here? Thank God for fleece and Cuddle Duds!

Thanks to everyone who is praying for Deana, sending text messages, leaving comments on her blog and MySpace page.

Deana just bought a liter of water for 17 rubles which amounts to about 50 cents!

Please see Deana’s blog for the update on her kids! http://russiawithlove-deana.blogspot.com/

Our First Day in Russia


The City Wall
Taking a Walk

As I begin writing this, it is about 5:40 pm Russia time, so that would mean it’s about 6:40 am California time. Good morning!

We had an interesting day today. Before I go on, I have a few key memories to log:

Russia dubbing – they don’t take out the English, they actual talk over the English so at times you can understand what’s going on. We watched Chuck Norris this morning!

The weather – PDC (pretty darn cold) although our jackets et al seem to work just fine.
The food – so far it has been excellent! I have really enjoyed the food, especially the Asparagus in cheese sauce! Butter is unsalted here just like in Italy.
Everywhere we go they seem to be playing American music – going from Frank Sinatra to Journey to The Doors to Pink. Its quite amazing.
This city does not seem like much of a tourist town – not many souvenirs and they looked at us taking pictures a bit strangely.
Women dress very fashionably here.
Deana looks hilarious when she wraps her scarf around her face; her glasses fog up and then freeze that way…..

We arrived in Russia close to midnight – immigration was a bit intimidating because they really check you out!!! The guy I had didn’t speak much English so it was a bit difficult at times, but it worked out. Customs went very smoothly and we then met our translator Olga and our driver Sergei. We got into a small Subaru and headed for our hotel, which took a bit longer than I had anticipated. During the drive, we were told it was 14 degrees Fahrenheit! Brrrrrrr. Today it was -10 degrees Celsius – not sure of the conversion, will check it out after I log onto the internet.

Anyway, the hotel room is nice – not as big as American standards, but bigger than some of the rooms we have had in Europe. The shower is full sized so no cramped space like in Italy! Yes! And it is very warm once you get inside – VERY warm! Deana would tell you it is still freezing, but she is always cold. So far, most of the hotel staff speak English – some better than others – and I find that very impressive!

Today we had “the day off”, which meant we had free time and would not have any activities involving the adoption agency. We walked to downtown Nizhky Navgorod and did some window shopping and bum freezing!! The people we encountered seemed overall very nice, although not overtly friendly. But if you smiled or said hi, they responded nicely. I am glad to be sitting in our hotel room relaxing though! Even though it took us 24 hours to get here, I am still feeling the effect of the jet lag! It is also taking forever to download the pics to my laptop due to old pics on the card…..

Tomorrow we will be meeting Olga and Sergei at 8:30 am. Deana will go to the Ministry of Education (MOE) to be interviewed and then we head to the orphanage to meet her children!!! She is pretty nervous – she hasn’t talked much about it today and kind of steered away from that conversation. They are DEFINITELY not like the French! LOL

Sorry this is so random and inarticulate!

Here are a few shots from our walk today in the city.