It has been 2 1/2 months, and I have finally hit a wall. I am done, I want to go home, and I am on the edge of losing it about every half hour when we are out in public. I am not proud of this fact at all, and am ashamed to admit it. I am so profoundly grateful to live in America where everything works right, where life is not so stinking hard to get anything accomplished.
Part of it is not anyone's fault. There is no great set up here to live with a family of 7 and not have things a little more complicated. We have to have 2 cars for everything we do, which means 2 taxis sometimes or a taxi and a prepaid driver. We don't speak the language which is our own darned fault but it makes it terribly frustrating to accomplish the simplest task.
But I don't know how to explain it well other than to say so much here is archaic and set up to make things harder rather than easier. I am not the only one who thinks so, everyone who lives here says the same thing but they can't escape it so they just do whatever is required.
For example, yesterday we had a 15 minute argument with a coat check dude at Babylon because Kenny didn't get a tag for his coat when he dropped it off. They didn't want to give it to us. Never mind that his two brothers were standing there in the exact same coat, or that the tag was obviously in English or that his name was written on the tag. So we stood there and stared at this chick who seemed to take great pleasure in ignoring us after telling us with gestures we were not getting Kenny's coat without the tag. We call over a supervisor who has a walkie talkie and calls someone else who appears by gestures to be eating, then walks away indicating someone would show up eventually who could maybe help us. We stand there some more, we argue some more, I begin to get a little hot under the collar at the stupidity of the situation and my own personal boiling point almost being reached had me feeling like I wanted to walk behind the counter in all my American arrogance and totally deck this power hungry coat check chick. We called over the supervisor, Mr. Walkie Talkie, and again he basically waved us off...then Dominick raised his voice and the guy decided Dominick was not someone he wanted to tick off and finally had the girl fling the jacket over the counter at us.
Stupid. Totally stupid.
I am tired of taking cameras to museums and being charged to take photos so why bother to take it. Then on top of it all, Dominick dropped our expensive Canon Rebel camera today and broke the auto focus lens which will cost a couple hundred bucks to replace. It works, sort of, in a grinding, sticking sort of way. It was an accident but a costly one and one we can't afford to replace anytime soon. I just hope we don't find the camera itself was damaged too or I will be totally sunk.
Then I fell again today, after having fallen a couple days ago. That one didn't hurt, this one has ached all day long and was on my bad hip which I hate saying because it makes me sound so darned old but I have arthritis badly in one hip and I slipped on the 5" of ice that is everywhere in the stinking world and slammed that hip onto a curb. My shoulder hurts too. There is virtually no where in this entire country that is not covered in thick ice and walking is perilous.
I am frustrated to no end trying to find a simple item but not having a regular store with departments to go to and find it. You have to wander the acres and acres of 15x15 inch indoor stalls to find what you want as nothing is categorized or organized and if you want to find...say...a spoon...you have to look through hundreds of vendors to find a spoon.
I want to throw my curling iron and hair dryer through the wall every single day because we have to use adapters that make everything fall out of the wall and not remain plugged in...and then when you go to unplug it the outlet comes out of the wall and dangles there, wires exposed. Every outlet. Everywhere.
I am extremely fed up with being charged more for every single thing because we are walking American targets with a big "We are from America, that means you think we are rich" sign on my forehead. Then the Kazakh person walks up next to you and gets charged half the price you were just charged for the same item. It also makes you angry to get charged for things you should never be charged for at all...like taking your kids ice skating but you get charged $10 yourself just to enter the arena and watch your kid from a seat on the sidelines.
It makes no sense to me at all that every single restaurant has a menu that seems to be arbitrary and you have to make at least 5 selections in order to get one of them, as it seems that whatever is listed on the menu falls more into the category of "we'd love to have this every day, and once in awhile we just might have it but we think it is a lot of fun to watch you order a bunch of different things and we get to hide our laughter as we say we are out of that today".
There are no real sized trash bags in this country. For 2 months with a family of 5 and now 7 we are using tiny Walmart sized plastic bags for our trash, which is not all that bad I supposed until you realize that many of them are made of far worse material and won't hold anything without it spilling out the bottom on your feet.
No one is on time, ever. And not off by a little, but by hours. You hurry up only to wait an hour or two for them to call you and tell you they will be by in another hour. Central Asian time is it's own Twilight Zone of time.
Laundry for 7, 10" deep washer and no dryer. Need I say more? And yes, we are wearing things more than one day. There isn't an open space in the apartment without someone's scivies hanging there and the washer has never stopped other than when we have left the apartment, and we still can not catch up enough to have clothes for the few remaining days of our trip so we don't get overcharged at the hotel laundry to do up a set for everyone/
I like to wear my shoes in the house. I hate taking them off at the door and tripping over them. Multiply that by 7 pairs of shoes, plus 7 pairs of snow boots in a tiny apartment hallway. Then trip over them every single stinking time you walk by.
We have yet to have a bedroom or bathroom door that shuts. Clothes washers are in the bathroom, but guess what, no outlet is in there so the extremely short cord is run through the doorway and is so tight you can't really easily undo it for fear you will never get it hooked back up. And our bedroom doors either are not plumb and can't close or have no real door handle hardware and the thingie that sticks out to go into the door jamb so no one has any real privacy as they are changing clothes or showering.
I am so, so, so, so tired of being cold. I am tired of waiting outside for taxis for 20 minutes when it is 20 below. I am tired of my body aching because it is so cold. I am tired of snow gear for every exit of the apartment for all of us....all the gloves, scarves, jackets, snow boots...trying to find them, trying to make sure no one freezes in the terrible cold. I am sick of the clucking and muttering of babushkas who let their disapproval be known about the kids not being bundled the way they think they ought to.
Being followed around everywhere we go when in a market or store because they are either watching us like hawks so we don't steal or are totally in awe of 7 of us traipsing around is growing old quickly as well.
And to top it off, we learned that despite our bad experience at the Kazzhol coming in and even our last trip 2 years ago with Kenny, our coordinator still has us staying at Ripoff Inn...Oh...pardon me...The Kazzhol. So, anyone willing to make a wager on how much it will cost us for 7 people there for the privilege of sleeping on a box spring for 5 nights with my now awfully painful hip???? And no, we did NOT receive the credit we were promised from our 1 night $500 stay there on our way in to Kazakhstan. Not that we expected them to live up to their word.
Ahhhhhhhh...you have no idea how much better I feel just getting that off my chest. Now maybe I can get through these last few days without ripping someone's head off.
On the bright side, we have the best kids in the world, you know that? We all went for hours today without eating after a super light breakfast as the food department is purposely running low here so we don't waste money and leave stuff behind. Not a complaint was heard, they all were real troopers, and we even had a lot of help packing and organizing with everyone taking care of their own backpacks, helping find loose items, and pitching in to clean and make dinner. We played cards again, and now everyone is in Electronic Heaven as they are watching DVD's behind me on the floor. We have some remaining clean up to do tomorrow, and Kenny has another quick recheck at the hospital again for his eye, then we are off on a 3:45 PM flight to Almaty and a little warmer climate.
Angela let me kiss her good night on the cheek last night, so did Olesya. It's a start. Joshie crawled in bed and whispered with me awhile this morning. Always tender and sweet. The girl's complexions are starting to clear up a little with frequent showers and hair washing, and they smell GOOD these days! Laughed a ton when the kids all scrambled for the can of Cracks when we got home and were starving to death and most of the can was crumbs. Stupid Newly Adopted Kid Adjustment Humor has included a ton of physical humor about gas and burps. I mean lots of it. Glad to see the kids all bonding over anything. And yes, the girls burp better than the boys. No I won't allow it too much in the future but for now potty humor works well.
And I have had a couple of moms with older kids from the RBS who have been friends for years offer tons of great support via email. It helps so much to hear of their experiences, to have companionship on this crazy ride, to have good solid suggestions and encouragement and "me too's".
We will try and blog as we can while in Almaty, if the business center is open and the internet is working and it is not 10,000 tenge per minute.
We did have one stroke of good luck in learning an extra flight has been added coming into Montrose and so we come in around 6:45 PM on the 14th instead of dead last at 10:00 PM. That will be a nice treat for us to get home earlier.
That's about it for now. We grow weary, we regroup, we take in a very deep breath, we move on to Phase 3.
Almaty, here we come!