Link to 11/18 Photos
11-18-2004 Journal
Link to 11/17 Journal
Link to 11/19 Journal
We are heeeeeer-eeeeer...we got into Almaty at about midnight and were picked up by our driver Sasha and local
administrator Dilnoza.  Sasha is a real young hipster who hates hip-hop and likes the blues (it was very refreshing to
meet a young person with rational musical taste).  Dilnoza is a very pretty and young Kazakh woman who was very
polite but sharp.  I asked her what she thought of Americans coming to Kazakhstan to adopt their children and she
obviously supported it.  I then asked her about a more traditional faction of Kazakhs who felt international adoption
was wrong...that their country should take care of their own children.  Dilnoza replied, "There are many people who do
feel that way, but all they do is talk, not actually do anything for the children (I love a person who can call a spade a
spade).

We made it to our apartment at about 1 A.M. and were a bit concerned as they led us from a dirty dark alley into an
old building with a worn out and dusty stairway.  We were then led through a thick metal doorway into a bright clean
apartment with maple coloured hard wood floors, built in mill work and attractive track lighting appointments.  Mom and
I quickly took a shower and crashed hard setting our alarm to wake us in 7 hours to make our appointment with the
main adoption administrator here in Almaty.

We met with the main coordinator Gulbanu at 10 A.M.  We were basically there to sign a bunch of documents for our
custody hearing and your naturalization stuff.  We also had to fork a sizable sum of cash in the form of brand new
sequential $100 bills (by the way, your mom wanted me to notate that she did not think it was appropriate to mention
anything about the money).  

In spite of the mundane tasks at hand the visit did have a highlight which was the opportunity to visit with Gulbanu.  
Gulbanu and her two sisters (the three of them are affectionately know as the three fairies) operate a renown  
adoption placement service in Kazakhstan.  Golbanu (the eldest) is a physician, one sister is an attorney and the
other is an accountant.  We where able to while away about a 1/2 hour with Golbanu's undivided attention.  Golbanu is
a classic eurasian beauty (like your mom), in her mid to late 40s, with a quiet confident demeanor.  It really was terrific
meeting her.

After our meeting we went out to lunch with our travel partners Tim and Jenn.  We went to a place called the American
Cafe (I knew there was a reason why we traveled half way around the globe).  We then did a little shopping and
headed up to the
mountains for a little sight seeing and skiing (actually got about 4 long runs in).  After that we hit the
baths...we went to the largest bath house in Almaty and rented a private bath parlor equipped with a sauna and a
small pool.  We both got massages as well, which was quite an experience...Dad's masseuse looked like a samurai
soldier, stripped down to his underware, wearing a headban and actually praying before he got started.  The massage
itself was rather painful but the language barrier diffused my ability to admonish the Samurai to go a little
easier...Mom's masseuse was an elder Russian looking woman who also stripped down to her underware to ply her
trade (Mom actually did not realize her massage therapist was 1/2 naked till she turned over and beheld the scantily
veiled mellons that hung so low they covered the woman's belley button).

That evening we retired early to our apartment with a couple of pizzas...we had to pack and get up early the next day
because we were getting on a plane to come meet the two of your for the first time!