Sunday, January 16, 2005

After a day to recuperate in the apartment, we were ready to venture out a little. We called the drivers and asked if he could take us to the mountains today. We left the house about 10:30 (they said this was the best time). We ran by Keely and Jason's apartment so we could follow each other. There apartment is a little ways from ours, so we don't see each other like we did in Uralsk. We miss having them as neighbors (sharing morning coffee, etc.).

We headed to the mountains. The kids actually fell asleep in the car for a bit (which ended up being one of the naps for the day). Once we entered the resort area, there was a police officer who made everyone pull over to the side of the road. We found out that the President of Kazakhstan decided to go skiing today so the road was blocked off until the entourage went past. It's funny - their entourage consisted of 3 Suburban-type vehicles compared to the army of people that escort our President.

Once we were able to get back on the road, we got stopped in another place and we were stuck there with no end in site. Our luck hasn't been the best for having arrangements run smoothly. We asked Vitale if it would be ok if we walked up ahead (we were not far from the big ice skating rink) while he waited in the traffic jam. He was fine with this. We made it up to the top of the mountain (at least the "top" where the ice skating rink was) and walked around a bit. Sierra fell asleep on Carla, but Kai hung in there the entire time. Almaty isn't as bad as Uralsk in terms of people staring. However, we did have some people that gave us "the look." Now in their defense, maybe it was our big American boots instead of the babies we had bundled up... but who knows?

There was no place indoors to sit down and we didn't want to keep the children out in the cold too long, so we headed back to the car. Fortunately, the car was warm and the police let a few more cars go through, which opened up a space for us to get down the mountain. We headed back for the apartment to feed the babies and put them down for a nap (so we thought). Les went back out with Vitale to get a few more things from the store.

Apparently Vitale is a real "hoot" in the store. Les would tell him what he wanted (Vitale speaks OK English, but there is still quite a communication gap) and Vitale would take him to that respective aisle. He would even tell him what to buy. For instance, Carla asked Les to get some more diaper wipes. Les picked up a package and Vitale told him "No, get another one" - and motioned that his recommended wipes had a good seal on the top, and Les' would get all dried up. Carla was thankful. We knew he was a winner when he recommended Heinz ketchup!

While Les was at the store, Jim and Carla got the kids down for a nap - for about 30 minutes. They were screaming their heads off - though dry and fed. We didn't want to reinforce the crying, pick me up thing, so we let them cry a little hoping they would go back to sleep. After Les got home and they were still crying we finally got them up. They were happy to be up and wanted to play.

We tried a nap a little later in the day and had about the same success so we just kept them up. They were in a fine mood - maybe they're getting too much sleep at night. We'll just have to figure it out as we go. Dinner and baths were a big hit again. This is a favorite for the kids (as is the nightly bottle).

They have been down now for about 2 hours and Sierra only woke up once with a wet diaper. After changing her, she went right back down and never woke up Kai. Keep you fingers crossed for another quiet night.

Here are some pictures from the day:


Wake up time. The kids slept 12 hours again - Yeah! They got up and sat with Mom and Dad this morning before breakfast.



Ready for the mountains.


One of the city's electric buses.



Local billboard on the way to the mountains.


Carla and Sierra on the way to our morning mountain outing.



Kai fell asleep on the way there.


This is the Kazakhstan President on his way to go skiing. They shut the road down so we had to wait until he and his entourage went by.



The Higgins in Almaty mountains.


The big skating rink in the mountains.



Higgins' and Richardson's with the 4 babies. You can see why folks stare... can't you?


Resting up for the ride back home.



We saw this Olympic symbol but can't find anywhere on the Internet that any games were played here -- Anyone else have any info?


A police officer that Les took a picture of.



They were giving horse rides on the mountain.


The ice skating rink was getting a lot of action today.



Sierra fell asleep on Carla.


A Kazakh man riding his horse up the mountain.



The traffic we were stuck in (many lanes were blocked off since the President decided to go skiing).


Our drivers - Marot and Vitale (Vitale is our driver).



Some new apartments that are being built. There is some modern construction here that looks similar to the US. However, many of the building still look "old Russia."


Old KGB headquarters.



The Kazakhstan White House.


The Almaty Mayor's building (the local government)


One of the 2030 signs you see around town (the President's message is that Kazakhstan will prosper by 2030).


The US Embassy.


Kai is learning to clap his hands.


Having fun with Daddy.



"Can I help you?"


Daddy is helping Kai with his walking.



Daddy helping Sierra with her walking (but she won't take her fingers out of her mouth).


Beautiful view from our bedroom - this is a typical apartment building here.


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  A Jim & Carla Creation - 2004