Sunday, May 20, 2007

day of rest

Today is Sunday, so we don’t get to visit kola. Our translator has left for a few days and will be back on Friday. Although I’ve realized it’s an anemic description to call him a translator because he’s so much more. (he’s pictured here with sig, I hope.) he manages our long and deep daisy chain of paperwork required from local inspectors, the orphanage, the sda, the Ukraine government, and the u.s. embassy. Much of which is stamped by each authority with a colorful seal, pushed down with two hands with an authoritative ‘ka-chunk.’ He also helps us navigate here, like with yesterday’s shopping, getting the driver, securing transport back to kiev, what to bring kola, our visitation hours, helped get our independent dr. to the orphanage location, etc etc. yesterday during dinner we were reviewing our timeline here and I added to it, then roman flies to Chicago for a one month transition period. He laughed and said we weren’t the first couple to propose that.

Throughout Ukraine, it’s actually pretty easy to find just about anything we need. We find coke (not pepsi, which is our 2nd choice anyway), sprite, fanta, lots of bottled water, pantene, dove lotion, kit kats. Food like yogurt, butter, milk are all national brands, but it’s clear what it all is. I’m sure I could list 50 stores I recognize, all designer types and boutiques, since stores here tend to be specialized and small sized in typical European fashion (anyone remember the SNL scotch tape store skit?) we see reebok, addidas, laura Ashley, louis vuitton, chicco (baby toys), benetton, but no larger stores like gap or any super stores.

Cell phones are pretty much an appendage and there are cell phone kiosks and stores everywhere. Our facilitator gave us a phone to use while we’re here and we buy $10 phone cards which we use for minutes. Incoming calls are free. Around the corner from our current apt., they’re airing the new shrek and pirates of the caribbean with Russian or Ukrainian over dubbing. These two languages are very similar, with a few letters changed here and there but both using the Cyrillic alphabet. Roman confirmed that Ukrainian (esp. the further west you go) sounds softer, not as staccato and heavy as Russian. Two nights ago, I watched planet of the apes (the 90’s follow up movie) with roman in the apt. it was overdubbed in Russian but every now and then I could hear a peek of English. Lots of u.s. music is here too, and roman tells me that’s a pretty recent thing. We talked about 80’s music – he asked if we were listening to a lot of Italian music in the u.s. then, when we saw an 80’s program with Italian ballads. I said the foreign pop music I heard at that time was german (eg kraftwerk) or ABBA. He said until their independence from Russia, in1991 I think, American music wasn’t easy to find here and was considered a bad influence.

Driving here feels like an Olympic sport and luckily for everyone, we’ve only been passengers. Our driver from kiev to the orphanage would put any Chicago taxi driver to shame. Passing can be done in any lane or shoulder. A Ѕ hour out of kiev, sig mouthed to me “maybe we should have taken the train.” Outside of kiev police standing on the side of the road waved us over. Our driver handed them his license with a 10HRV (2.50USD) under it and we were off to the races again. And our driver in our current town can maneuver within a toothpick’s distance of the next car…all without the benefit of side mirrors.

The weather here seems similar to Chicago’s with one big difference we noticed in kiev: for three of the 10 days we were there, it would rain for 10 minutes then become completely clear for 2 hours, then cloud up, the temp would drop 10 degrees, rain for 10 minutes and clear up again. We were caught off guard the first day when we ventured out in blue skies with short sleeved shirts and no umbrellas. Kiev is not near a sea or mountains, so I’ll have to consult tommy skilling on that one.

We’ve found most people here to be friendly and helpful, and unlike our experiences in other countries, seem to have a pretty positive view of America/ns. We thought is was funny tho when we met with the local inspector before heading to the orphanage and she asked us some questions about what we did, where we were from. She asked if we had a flag outside our house (here flags are only flown on gov. bldgs) and we mentioned sports flags, season flags, and bill’s Scottish flag! Then we heard here say Chicago – al capone!

People on our team have been incredibly hard-working and totally accommodating. On an upcoming, entry, I’ll have to do a dedication to all the people who’s efforts have helped make this happen – it’s really staggering. Thanks for spending time with us! Xo b/s.


mare said...

We are so excited for you! Love the journal and photos-Kola is adorable!
Can't wait for the next update...

Mike Moran said...

hey beth-

thanks for more great posts. what an adventure! your training for your next career as travel writer/adoption trainer seems to be going well.

i'm not reading any books right now, so i can't wait till the next chapters... (no pressure)

jackie pernot said...

I finally caught up and read all of your entries yesterday (chocolate cake is NOT an acceptable lunch, Beth!)--Kola is adorable! I am so excited for all of you and hope everything continues to go smoothly. Have a safe trip back and we can't wait to see you and meet the newest member of the family.


cara said...

Glad you like the cofee, Make sure you try the candy bars. The ones I liked are Milka and have a picture of what looked like raisons but are actually bits of toffee. Yummy!
Matthew was always dressed in several layers of clothes too, Even now it is hard to get him into a t-shirt and shorts. He thinks he should be completely covered with clothes and we've been home for 18 months now. Cara

cara said...

It's me again! We thought our Matthew had crossed-eyes when we adopted him in Dec 05. But the eye dr said it was a turned eye possibly from trauma at birth or poor nutrition. He was supposed to wear a patch for several hours a day for a year, but we couldn't keep it on him. The eye has corrected itself now that Matthew has good nutrition. Hopefully it will be the same with Kola. We have an appointment on Friday with the eye dr for a follow up. Cara

Barry said...

Its a quiet day here as well. Can't wait to have you guys back home with the newest Burdin. The pictures are wonderful and Sig looks right at home with a glass in hand. What an incredible experience you're having. The retelling will fill many nights over the years and rekindle warm memories.

kcflemming said...

we can relate to the socks with sandals & warm, layered clothing style... as was favored by barbara. i would bet that kola has never had a bath in the morning & then gone outside during the day as well. (he could catch a cold!)
we look forward to welcoming kola to his home in oak park- block parties, slip 'n slides & all!
we're thinking of you all...
-the flemmings