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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Where are we?

Writing from: Swiss Air Seat 14C
Local time at writing: sometime really early Tuesday morning September 19, not sure what time zone I am in right now.
Posting from: Zurich airport
Local time at posting: 10:05 am Tuesday September 19th, 2006

So many things to write about.

As we were departing from Khabarovsk, Lena was chatting with the children, asking if they had any questions about their new life in America. Juliana did. She wanted to know if we could have an elephant. “No.” “Not even a baby elephant?” “No” “A rhino then?”

When Jamie and I are going crazy because the children seem to have forgotten basic rules of good behavior – behavior that we know they know as we saw it during our many orphanage visits – I just tell myself “baby elephant.” In their fantasies of their new life, anything is possible, and of course life without tiresome rules would be at the top of their wish list.

The children do fairly well on the flights. Andy had the window seat across Russia and was delighted to see all the malinky machina (little cars) and then the clouds below us. Juliana couldn’t see out the window – too short – so she really didn’t have as much fun.

Flying in to Moscow we flew over the outlying areas. The clusters of homes we could see were charming, often two-story with barn style roofs, and brightly painted. The surrounding areas were under cultivation and it was all very pretty.

Moscow is also very pretty. I had heard horror stories of the Moscow airport, but we found it to be clean with good signage and free carts (what is with the US Airports that charge for carts? So unhospitable!). We easily found our traveling companions, as well as our facilitator. We were loaded into cars and whizzed off to the city. The roads are wide and in good repair and the drivers have nerves of steel. Our hotel was located very near the heart of the city so our drive into town gave us a good peek at Moscow.

Our free day in Moscow, Sunday, was a real treat. We took a tram (#44) from our hotel straight to the Kremlin. Easy and cheap. The Kremlin sits on Red Square, as does St Basil’s as well as many other lovely buildings. We walked through the complex, around the complex, and through the complex from the other side. We got to see a real live Communist Party rally as we walked and walked and walked. Lunchtime arrived and found us smack dab in front of McDonalds. All that yummy food in Moscow, and we ate burgers. Sad, isn’t it?

After lunch we walked down to the Moscow River which flows right through town and took a boat ride. This kept the children awake and did not require us to walk. We were afraid to go to our room, as the kids would fall asleep and be up all night again. They loved the boat ride as did we. I highly recommend it if you tucker out while sightseeing Moscow.

So, I think that fills in the details and takes us up to the glorious night of ten hours of sleep. Ten Hours. You can’t imagine how delicious that was. Monday morning we had open, but we were too tired to sightsee, too tired even to visit a LUSH store. We were very happy to find that the Ukraine offered a free buffet breakfast. Andy ate and ate and ate. He loves raw veggies: cucs, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers. Yum yum. We are still astonished at his capacity.

We then took turns amusing the children on the lawn and shopping for souveniers in the gift store. Contrary to expectations, the prices in the snazzy hotel were as good as, or better than what we found Khabarovsk.

At 1:30 Andrie picked us all up in his compact car. All. That is Jamie and I and Andy and Juliana and Y and A and their 7 yr old and their infant. We were nine in a car that seats four. To relieve us of our discomfort as soon as possible, Andrei drove double speed. Somehow this did not help us relax.

The embassy process was relatively quick and painless. We arrived, took numbers, paid our fees (they take credit cards, btw), and were sworn in en masse. There were about ten families there. Each family was called up to the window to confirm all the documents and spelling. We then waited while the visas were printed and affixed to the children’s passports, which were promptly returned to us along with the sacred “DO NOT OPEN” packet that we hand to immigration when we arrive in Chicago. If it is opened, the whole family has to return to Moscow. We will not open it.

After the embassy we doodled about and then ate dinner at the hotel buffet. It was not as good as the breakfast buffet, but kids were free and adults were cheap, so it worked for us. Then we bribed the children with the promise of bath and a movie which allowed us to pack in relative peace.

I was so worried that we would fail to wake up on time for our flight that I didn't sleep. Everyone else woke up at 3:45 a.m. and at 4:17 we in the car; Jamie and I even got showers.

The Zurich flight on Swiss Air was wonderful. Clean. Short. Free Chocolate. Good Food. On arrival here we found the children's play area of which my cousin Jenny had told me. More on that in the next post.

Thank you to those who reminded me that the Russia Passports are keepers. Of course. I am so focused on getting home that I spoke of no longer needing them in those terms.

Blog stuff – Suz I can’t post on your blog as I updated and you are set to receive Blogger IDs only. If you set to accept others I can put in my two cents worth again. I had a nice borschty post for you and it wouldn’t go through.

Everyone on my Families in Waiting blogroll got a Zurich click.

edited to add this pic of Juliana's preferred sleeping position since Swiss Air would not let us make beds for the children at our feet.


Anonymous said...

Wow Suzanne, sounds like you guys had a nice stay in Moscow and how wonderful to get the famous St Basil's pic. Home sweet home is waiting for you guys. Congratulations!

Deb said...

Sounds like you had a busy 2 days.
I will be praying for you all day that you make it home safe and of a sound mind. I'm sure you can't wait to get home in your own bed.

Carolina Mama said...

Slowly but surely you are getting back to civilization. (That other flight sounded horrible!) The pics are adorable. They are so CUTE!! Safe travels! Zurich click - cool! It's beautiful there - that was my 'pre click' days! :)

6blessings said...

Almost home! I guess you are probably on your flight back to the U.S. I can't wait to hear that there are 2 more American citizens- very cute ones at that!

Suz said...

Oh, I'm sad you couldn't post on my blog. I'll go see if I can fix it.

Here's wishing you to have a safe and sane trip home!!

Laura said...

Have a safe flight!!

A Room to Grow said...

wow, you are almost home! all of the sudden those days in khab seem like a distant memory!

Melissa said...

I bet you can't wait to sleep in your own bed. You have to get pics of the childrens' first views of their new home. I know it will be a thrilling time.

Anonymous said...

You need to get the video called "Workout With Mommy and Me" because it has a really cute sing along song about the kids asking for an elephant.
"Please mama daddy please..
...Just a little elephant!..."

Anyway, it is cute. Plus the rest of the video is fun too.

It sounds like you had a nice time in Moscow! It looks like it has really gotten cold (cute hats!)Give us more info. about the boat ride. Congrats on making it home!

sandy said...

its wednesday afternoon and you are hopefully home now. rest and rest and get ready for the ride of your life--parenting. truly has ups and downs as you have experienced already. yeah!

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog through happymom4 (Hope Anne) and wasn't going to comment, even though I am sure enjoying your blog...but what makes me comment is the coincidence that my husband, daughter, and I were at the Ukraina Hotel in Moscow at the very same time that you were, (!!!) and were having a wonderful day of sightseeing in Moscow on that very same Sunday, if you are talking about September 17, 2006. We were in Russia for a heritage trip for our daughter, whom we adopted in 1998 and who is now 9 y.o. She (and we) had a wonderful trip, taking in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Sochi, and her birth city, Krasnodar. Blessings to you and yours!