Link to 11/24 Photos
11-24-2004 Journal
Link to 11/25 Journal
Link to 11/23 Journal
Today was busy!  We started off with our morning visit which was immediately followed with our first interview with
officials at the Ministry of Education in Uralsk.  We then went shopping and ran errands, had a quick lunch, did our
afternoon visit and then went to dinner with our travel partners Tim and Jenn along with 4 peace corp volunteers.

We were told the interview at the Ministry of Education was a formality, the only thing we needed to specifically be
careful of was to not let on that we had come to Uralsk on a referral.  In other words, as far as the officials were
concerned, we had not known you two (Iris and Rose) existed until we got here and picked you out.  The purpose of
the interview was to qualify our suitability as parents.  In spite of the interview being a formality, everybody was
pretending the fate of our adoption hung on its outcome.  The officials themselves were a middle aged gentleman
sitting behind a desk and two younger woman flanking him on either side.  Your Dad started off talking about why we
were adopting, why Kazakhstan, where we lived, our occupations, hobbies, etc.  Your Mother had prepared a photo
album of our house, San Francisco and our family and friends for them to peruse.  One of the things the photo album
had was pictures of 4 or 5 vacations your Mom and Dad had taken which, elicited a question (which was really an
admonishment) from the older gentlemen where he commented and asked, "It looks like you like to take a lot of
vacations, are you planning on giving up your vacations for a while?".  We just smiled and answered, "definitely,
definitely".  There were more questions all of a somewhat patronizing nature.  We kept smiling and answering the
questions as humbly as possible (a foreign concept for your father).  Eventually they ran out of questions and we
were done.

We then went shopping at the Atrium which was an approximately 20K square foot, brand new supermarket with
brightly lit aisles and neatly displayed items for sale.  We bought bottled water, Diet Pepsi, Pampers, chips, salami,
cheese, and a bulk tub of individual chocolates (to give away).  The bill came to about 7000 tenge or about $40.

We then grabbed a quick bite at a bakery with our interpreter Assia and our driver.  We gorged on meat filled
piroshkis and diet coke.  We picked up the whole tab and it set us back about 700 tenge ($4) for everything.

After lunch we had our afternoon visit with the two of you and on our way back to the hotel picked up our laundry (a
fairly large load for about $4) and some prints we will need for court that we had made from our digital camera (about
$.35 per print).

That evening we hooked up with Jen and Tim who had arranged a dinner with 4 American Peace Corp. workers, Terry
(male), John, Sue and Jackie.  Also joining was an intense young local named Yuri who worked with Terry and John.  
We ate at a great place called the Dixie Cafe which was an American themed restaurant with a very eclectic menu
(everything from Burritos to Spaghetti to nice large salads).  It was a nice treat to have a nice large salad as lettuce is
not a popular product here.  The conversation was very lively and interesting.  Terry is a 32 year old advertising
executive who is taking a two year break to help incubate businesses.  John is a 39 year old MBA doing the same
thing as Terry...John joined the Peace Corp. because he was embarassed over the U.S. hawkish foriegn policy
(specifically the war in Iraq) and wanted to show that not all Americans were so imperialistic and conservative.  Jackie
and Sue were lively soldiers of peace in their early 20s working with Women organizations.

One very interesting thing we learned in our conversation was how Kazakhstan's President is one of the richest men
in the world owning virtually every utility and media company in the country.  He is in fact a multi billionaire.  
Apparently in the last election he scored 93% of the popular vote...imagine that?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and your Mom is planning a special photo for your website.