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Wednesday In Astrakhan

by bill - 2007-10-09 06:34:16 ( in family, adoption, holmes, travel) [php version] rebuild

We just got back from today's first visit with the child (we're not supposed to mention her name online). We'll be going back this afternoon. In the meantime, Tara's trying to catch up on her sleep. She had woken up around 5 this morning. I was able to sleep until almost 8.

The girl (hopefully soon to be known as "our daughter") is great. We discovered she likes it a lot when we put her on the plastic "motorcycle," Tara pushes from behind, and I "run" ahead of them as they try to run me down. Typical Russian driver. :) She likes to blow bubbles a lot, and spill half of it on the floor, though she finally did go looking for the cap at one point to put it back on and stop spilling. She likes to roll and kick the ball; and climb on things. The toys she wants the most are the ones hardest to reach. I got good at saying "be careful" in Russian, though at the moment I can't recall the phrase. That's how it is with me and languages. I can remember words and phrases for MINUTES at a time, only to completely forget 20 minutes later until I check my cheat sheet again. She likes to color, but thinks all colors are green. She can probably differentiate colors, but doesn't know the different word for each one.

She's still a little bit less comfortable with Tara than she is with me, for some reason. And I hate that, but what can you do? Chicks just naturally dig me, you know? The girl can't help it. :) If she only knew, it's been Tara's hard work and determination that got us this far in the first place! But that figures. The one who works the hardest almost never gets the credit.

I took some video again today. Just some neighborhood "scenery" shots from the back of the van/taxi they drive us around in. I was asked by our hosts to explain that the reason so many police and military are out on the streets today is because the country's new Prime Minister is visiting. Up until today, I hadn't seen many "authorities" on the street. Security guards in every store at every exit, yes, but not out on the street. I don't have the connections to upload it here. It'll have to wait until we get home.

I also tried to get some video "for the guys" for research purposes only, of all the beautiful women we see everywhere. Unfortunately, the air is suddenly 10-15 degrees cooler, so the women are fully dressed. They're funny here. It gets just a little bit cool, and they act like winter has set in, shivering and putting on sweaters. You would think that, given the infamously freezing winters they have here, this Fall weather would not phase them at all. They tell me and Tara to put on sweaters, and we just have to explain that we like the cool weather.

We were able to figure out the international calling card last night. Our interpreter, Vika, translated the Russian instructions on the back for us, but I couldn't seem to get an outside line in the hotel room. That, plus the fact that I had never used (never needed to use) a calling card before, made it difficult. I was forced to call down to the front desk for help, which we both try and avoid. There's a tall blond woman down there who, I'm pretty sure, does not dig me. I think she is the one I spoke to. I don't know. Maybe they just all hate me. Actually, most of them are very nice, but whoever she was, she was fairly snotty. "Do you know how to use it [the calling card]?" she asked, after making that expulsion-of-breathe sound that signifies disgust.

"Yes, I have instructions," I said, "but it's not working. I just need to know how to get an outside line." Silence on the other end. So I try to speak clearly and slowly and not use contractions. "Usually, in hotels you have to dial a certain number to get an outside line." I'm not being sarcastic with her. I'm actually impressed when anyone can speak a language foreign to them. She gave a derisive snort, then more silence. "... when you use the phone," I added, in case I hadn't made that part clear.

"You give us your card," she finally said. "We will make call for you."I said, "Yeah, okay," but never followed up. After hanging up with her, I said "screw it" and just started trying numbers to get an outside line. I'd already tried 8 and 9. The one that works, at least in this hotel this week, is 0.


Here's a screenshot of the entrance

UPDATE: Recently discovered this map showing the entrance of the orphanage on

astrakhan-courthouse-another -- astrakhanairport -- astrakhan-station -- astrakhan-pier -- astrakhan-kremlin -- astrakhan-hotel -- astrakhan-kremlin1

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Here is the complete blog of the adoption experience in paperback form, Russian Adoption: From Nashville to Astrakhan and Back (PDF). And here is the fictionalized, future "homeland tour" (action adventure) version in various forms: on Kindle, various electronic formats, and in paperback.

This Time Next Week -- Preparation for Our First Trip to Russia -- Travel Day -- The Day Before -- Tuesday (10/2/2007) -- In the Air -- We're in Moscow -- Adoption Videos -- -- First Time in Moscow -- It's Only Monday? -- Check-Out Time -- We're in Astrakhan -- What a Day -- It's a Girl It's a Girl -- Great Visit -- Sights of Astrakhan -- Wednesday in Astrakhan -- Last Visit for a While -- Thursday in Astrakhan -- Another Great Visit -- We're Home -- Back in Atlanta -- Round Two -- Skora Mweh Tam Boojum -- Elizabeth's Room -- Internet Access -- Back in Moscow (11/26/2007) -- Tuesday (11/27/2007) -- Mweh Yeddum V Aeroport Eta Ootra -- In the Air Again -- Back in Astrakhan -- Comments Welcome -- Russian Adoption Consultant -- Russian Bureaucracy -- It's Showtime -- And the Judge Says -- Success -- Went for a Walk -- Much Better Visit Today -- The Day After -- Beet Salad -- Saturday Morning -- It's Going to Be a Good Week -- She's Warming Up to Us -- Light at the End of the Tunnel -- Picture of Us Before Court -- She's Ours -- The First Hours of Parenthood -- More Pictures (12-09-2007) -- Bowel Movement -- Nothing Much to Update About -- Sleep, What a Concept -- Here's Your Update -- 51-1/2 Hours -- Back in Moscow (12/18/2007) -- Pictures of Our Life in Astrakhan -- Just Another Week to Go -- Riding the Metro, Part Deux -- Update to the Update's Update -- Moscow Update Continued -- Can't Leave Early -- To the Embassy -- Still in Moscow -- Riding the Metro -- We're Home! (For Good, this Time) -- A Few Pictures -- Stay Tuned -- Summary of Our Russian Adoption Experience -- Baby Shower -- Doctors Say She's Normal -- Recent Photos of Elizabeth -- Holmes Russian Adoption Videos -- Elizabeth's First Video -- A Few More Videos -- Adoption Videos Updated -- Our Russian Adoption Story -- Our Adoption Story -- Gotcha Day and Merry Christmas

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