16 February 2005: Almaty

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Another earthquake about 12 hours after the one of yesterday. I checked the USGS web site and found then as around magnitude five quakes centered in Western China, which is just south of Almaty.

Carla did call us this morning. She sounded very ebullient and certainly did seem to be having a good time at my mother's. We also get daily emails from Rita's mother, which basically tell us of Carla's latest tricks. I wonder how much effort we will have to expend to get her back to her regular schedule? We miss her terribly and she does ask when we will be back. My mother quickly told us that she is still in pain.

Coldest day yet that we have been here with the temperature at 10:00 being -16C. Still no wind so it continues to be hazy but not cloudy. Another day without a view of mountains. Picture along the route is an MI-8 which is in a park.

Best visit yet. Sergio was very active tearing through our bags to find toys and food. The toy was a pretend telephone to which he said, "Hello" when it rang. That marks the first word he has said that we understood. He devoured two small oranges, and dragged out a bunch of toys for play. He was much more engaged with us and much more assertive in his desires. This is also the first day on which he did not try to leave early by banging on or trying to open the door.

After the visit we stopped at Gulbanu's office for our passports. They have an official Kazakh registration stamp in them. Because it is so cold we did not go to the outdoor Green Market, but to the Tsum Store to pick up souvenirs. Lots of neat stuff. We got tablecloths for our mothers, a plate for Rita's sister, a doll for Carla, an Almaty refrigerator magnet for my wargaming friend Bob, who collects them, and some stuff for ourselves (table cloth, fish plate, mini Yurts, a Kazakhstan picture book, and a set of postcards).

A week of visits and two weeks until our court date. We like being with Sergio, but we long to head home and cannot wait until the process is over and Rita returns with Sergio.

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