Sunday, September 18, 2005
Amy: So we're back in KZ and back into school. Trying to fit back into old rhythms in the midst of new students and increased traffic is proving difficult. I have such a great group of students and parents this year, but I didn't realize how used I had gotten to last year's group and how unprepared I was for a transition to a new class. It just takes some readjusting, and I feel it coming. It's going to be a good year. But the traffic...maybe I just got used to Indiana traffic over the summer, but it seems worse this year...probably because of all the construction on the roads around the school...rumor has it that the local golf course is holding a European PGA tournament. That's why all the road maintenance. One night we left the school at 8pm and normally a drive home that takes us only 10-15 minutes took us two hours. We were detoured South towards the mountains, however when you're detoured in Almaty, there are no bright orange and black signs telling you which way to go every few feet. You just have to follow the traffic and hope everyone else knows where they are going. It just so happened that we were in front this time, and by the number of cars that were following us, we gathered that nobody really knew where they were going. So we wound through dirty, heavily cratered roads for the next two hours, frantically trying to use the type and size of the potholes as landmarks for the roads we already went down. For the first 15 minutes or so it was funny, we actually led a few locals into a deadend, I'm not sure why they all decided to follow the foreigners. But after awhile, it just wasn't funny anymore. We finally ended up back at the school, and found our way home by a different route. Travis, my hero, seems to have taken to the spirit of the roads here rather quickly. Me, I've driven maybe twice since we've been back. I'm in no rush. Anyway, we're settling in, enjoying the neighbor kids again (they often help us carry our things up to our apartment some evenings when we come home in exchange for cookies) and making progress with our Russian. And here it is only September.
Monday, May 09, 2005
Friday, October 29, 2004
On Wednesday we went with Russ and Cassie to Mad Murphy's Irish Pub, a local expat favorite. All of my (Amy) nine-year olds were shocked to learn I had not been there, and strongly urged me to go. So we did. A bit pricey, but we actually got thick-crusted pizza, rather than the dry, paper-thin stuff everywhere else in town that we've been to.
On Tuesday we spent more time in the city and then went up into the mountains to a spa/sauna. Bath houses/saunas are commonly frequented by the locals here. The spa was incredible, boasting Finnish, Russian and Turkish baths, complete with two salt water pools, indoor/outdoor hot tubs, steam room, sauna and ice pool. I got a massage (Amy) and then Travis and I and friends soaked in the pools, ate a fine dinner, and then soaked some more for the rest of the night.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Today we walked along a street named Zhibek Zholy (I think) where there were many vendors selling art and food. Today was a national holiday, so they were having a big program on the street. Lots of people were out. We had a great day...walking and watching people, eating, and spending time together.
Monday, October 25, 2004
Monday, October 18, 2004
Last weekend I went with some friends to the Big Almaty Lake up in the mountains while Travis had time with the boys. We drove up the mountain to about 10,000 feet. It's a popular get-away spot, but as with any developing country, the mountain roads are the last to be cared for. The road up was treacherous and snowy, with no guard rails, and I spent most of the ride praying that I would see Travis again. And people follow the same rules of the road up in the mountains as they do in the city. It's no matter that you both meet on a narrow bridge that drops off on either side into icy waters below, you must play chicken in order to beat him to the bridge and across, and naturally he will do the same. Here are some pictures (not of chicken on the bridge unfortunately, just of other stuff).