12 February 2005: Almaty

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Rita could not wait and called her sister. Carla and her parents arrived Thursday evening. Her mother says that Carla has been very good, but that she eats a prodigious amount. Carla misses us, but she is very excited to be with her cousins.

No pictures on the route today. It is foggy and hazy, we could not see the mountains at all. Plus Dima took a different route through the center of town as it is Saturday. We got to see new stuff, but I was too busy gaping to know what to shoot. We do not visit the Baby House tomorrow. Dima suggested we not go to the mountains as half of Almaty will be trying to go. We decided on the history museum. We also asked about the ballet. As can be seen, we are starting to get bored.

Good visit today. Murat played with toys and drew with a pen in our notebook. He may be left handed. He was much more vocal today although the words are few and far between. He did not like being lifted and swung around. Rita tried to play airplane with him and he did not like it one bit. This is a big contrast to Carla who loved getting tossed in the air, etc. We fed him cheese, which he loved, and broccoli which he tried and spit out. We figured out why he was so happy and eager to see our time together end. He goes to lunch right after our visit. They let us look in on their living quarters. Very nice and bright. They sleep in little beds, have a spacious play area, and had plenty to eat. Rita was amazed at how obedient they were. Lining up the chairs for a group photo and sitting quietly around the food tables. I think it is because of the head care giver who can be seen serving food in one of the pictures. When she spoke everyone moved as quickly as possible to do what she said. There are eight kids and there were three care givers. One thing we noticed both here and in Uralsk is that the kids are very quickly trained to take care of themselves such as dressing, feeding, etc. It is clearly a necessity with a limited number of care givers for the large number of kids.

After the visit another trip to the Ramstore, and after dinner we went for a long walk. It is really a nice city with the tree lined streets. Within easy walking distance is the Grand Cafe with American style food, the Dublin Irish Pub, Thomis Pastry Shop, which Dima recommended. We asked about going for Kazakh food, and whether Rita's vegetarianism would be problem. He knows some good places, but Kazakh food is very meat oriented. She would have to eat chicken at the most. Horse also figures in the traditional Kazakh fare. Probably we will skip it.

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