Adopting from Russia (2003)
Thursday August 14, Ekaterinburg
Today we visited the orphanage again around 10am, and had our 1 1/4 hour visit with Bailey Venera. We spent it outside as usual. We had a short 1 hour stop back at our hotel for lunch before heading out on our tour of the city. We went to the restaurant in the basement and it was very busy but we finally got a seat, and had a decent meal for 168 rubles ($5.60 US). Maureen had a very good soup and tomato and cucumber salad, and I had a meat patty (they called it a cutlet) and a garnish (side dish) of spaghetti (with a dab of ketchup in place of tomato sauce) and 2 orange pops. No time for desert today, our driver awaited!!!
After this visit, Slava and Sergei and Lena gave us a whirlwind tour of Ekaterinburg...Cityhall, The Dam, the Afghan Memorial, the All Saints Church. It was a good tour in a short amount of time. AND it was hot. The temperature seemed a lot higher today. It has been around 30 Celsius, but cramming 5 people in a Lada in the sun, made for a hot ride.
This year is the celebration of the 280th anniversary of the founding of Ekaterinburg, and the celebrations start in earnest tomorrow (Friday). SO many of the sites are being cleaned up, and the flowers are gorgeous.
The All Saints church, which was only opened in July, is gorgeous. It is built on the site of the house where the Czar and his family were assassinated. The house was torn down in 1977, but the site had continued to be marked by first a cross, then a chapel, and now finally this church. There are statues and many icons representing the Romanoff family, and markers dedicated to each family member in the lower level of the church. There are museum like displays of photos of the family and the house and artifacts from the house along the walls in the lower level.
It was good to see some of the nicer parts of Ekaterinburg. Up till now, our impression of Ekaterinburg was the 12 minutes drive from the Hotel to the orphanage!. Construction, abandoned construction, gypsy houses, big trucks, traffic police, traffic, trolleys etc. so this tour showed us some of the nicer architecture and sights.
During our afternoon visit today, we were to take Bailey Venera to get her Passport photo taken. The orphanage had her dressed in her good pink dress, and required that an orphanage worker accompany us to the photo studio. Our 2 car convoy headed to the photo studio about 2 blocks away, with Bailey sitting on Maureen's lap in the back of the car (car seat? What car seat!) It was a very short trip, with a visit to the 3rd floor studio. I held Bailey, so as to remain out of sight, and after 2 pictures, the photographer was satisfied he had a keeper, and we were back down the flights of stairs and back to the orphanage.
We gave our gifts which we brought from Canada to the orphanage director (rattles, clothes and tricycle). She seemed very appreciative, and when asked what we could bring next time, it was suggested that proper footwear, boots included would be appreciated. (items like clothes, would be much cheaper to buy in Russia, than to lug from home.
Our treat tonight was to go to Bailey's room to see it, and to feed her supper. The rooms are clean, with numerous playpens to keep the children contained. I think I counted 12 cribs in her room (#7) and about 8 of her companions were waiting to be fed supper.
I guess because we were there, Bailey got sent to the head of the line, and Maureen got to feed her her tumbler of formula first. No bottle, no sippy cup, just a big tumbler raised to her lips and she was drinking and lapping up her dinner. We then went from the "play area" to the "sleeping room" where 12 metal cribs are set up, and we found Venera's with her name on it. We lay her down, said our goodbyes, and headed for the door.
On our way back to the hotel, Slava stopped and picked up an Internet access card for me, for 100 rubles. This was in response to my constant requests to visit an Internet Café. (The one I knew about apparently had a bad reputation, and was in or beside a gay club. I think Slava was hesitant to send me there, thus the Internet card (click for instructions) .He said, had he known I had my laptop, that he would have gotten an Internet card for me a lot earlier. C'est la vie. I guess I should have spoken up!.
It took about 5 minutes to set up my laptop to dial out., and then I was surfing at 19k. Slow, but decent for sending mail, but a little slow for downloading mail and sending photos. BUT during the evening, I succeeded in doing both, and I felt like I was back in touch with the world! It was great.
Another meal in our room of ham sandwiches for which we had bought the ingredients from the grocery store, using 300 of the remaining 340 rubles we had, from the initial exchange we did at the airport in Moscow. Slava promised to take us to change money on Friday.
A quiet evening ensued, with me on the net, and Maureen surfing the 12 or so cable channels we had, all of which were in Russian. Euronews being the best channel for news, because every now and then you could hear the English voices before the Russian broadcaster would start translating. That was a bit of a thrill, along with "E.R" that was dubbed into Russian. Most of the channels though had Russian programming, which seemed to consist of Russian game shows (some nudity involved!) and variations of "Reality TV". In one, couples performed tasks/games while all the while building a log cabin (the winner getting to keep their cabin I think) and another show had 3 Russian women having dates and choosing between about 8 Russian men, while staying at a resort in Africa! Interesting, but when you don't understand the language, you soon surf on to yet another Russian show you can't understand, until you are back at the beginning and start yet again!
Have I mentioned that the first 2 days, our room had no hot water for showers, so we asked Slava to work on that for us. Hot water arrived in the afternoon of the 2nd day, but was not present for our morning showers, but by Thursday, the hot water was there to stay, and the shower was good. We couldn't find our luggage/home/car keys from day 2 onwards. We know we unlocked the suitcases with them, but they promptly disappeared after a brief Tuesday morning conversation where Maureen said "Are you going to take the keys with you?" to which I replied "No!" and then they vanished. We also noticed missing, a roll of toonies that we had brought to give out as souvenirs, but our memories of packing and unpacking were so unsure, that we couldn't really point any fingers! I was pretty sure I had packed the toonies, and my Swiss army "nail clipper" knife, but I never saw them once we arrived in the room!. Oh Well... The room also had no air conditioner, so the warm weather, made for a very warm room, and very uncomfortable sleeping. The hotel, though asked, found no fan for us and we had to rely on the open window (with screen) but had to shut the balcony door (no screen) because it was a shared balcony! At least the closed door kept the mosquitoes, that didn't seem to be too bothersome, out!
...to Ekat Final Day