Monday, October 20, 2008

Mama Lost Her Eyeball in the Sink

It’s a good thing I’ve still got a sense of humor, because after the trip from Bishkek to Almaty, that’s about all of Jennifer and I that isn’t broken, sprained, shot or exhausted.

This has been a comedy of errors type of day. Ellie managed to do a poo in her pjs this morning and I had them soaking in the sink. I went to put in my contacts and it fell in the poo water. OBVIOUSLY I wasn’t going to fish it out of that, so I was hunting around for another when I heard Jennifer tell Ellie, “Look, Ellie, mama lost her eyeball in the sink.” This set both of us into hysterical fits of laughter.

Then, Jennifer managed to pick up Ellie the wrong way and threw her back out, landing her on the couch the rest of the morning. Elizabeth had some back medicine and we gave her one along with Aleve and she lay on the couch – flattened – while we all went to get lunch. We had been told to be ready to leave at 1:30, but after returning, everyone was there and telling us we had been told to be ready to leave at 12:30. Elizabeth and I both remember him saying 1:30, so … we were all in a rush upon return and found that they had already called Jennifer at 12:30 wondering where we were. She had drug herself off the couch and poked all the remaining items in the luggage. The drivers spent quite a bit of time trying to figure how to get all our luggage in the van and the car. Jennifer and I had three large pieces and two small ones. Elizabeth and her mom had four large ones and some small ones as well. I know the drivers were thinking, “Darned Americans”. Finally, it was all loaded and we were ready to leave. Jennifer and I were in a Honda van with Volare and Sergei while Elizabeth and her mom were in a BMW with Victor.

The border was closer than I thought it was. The trip to Almaty is 240 km (approximately 160 miles per Sergei) and I suspect the border was about 40-50 km into the ride. Thank goodness, Ellie decided to take a bottle right before we got there and she was in a good humor. Upon arriving at the Kyrg border, I said a prayer asking God for a smooth process here. We walked inside and showed our passports. We were all taken into a “special” room where they began the process of checking our passports. We think there might have been an issue or specific questions on one of our cases, but we don’t know which one. Sergei spent quite a while talking in Russian. Finally, we were told to step outside the room and wait. Sergei exited and we left that building. Upon walking out, there was a step down that I missed and FELL!!! I twisted my ankle, but did NOT drop the baby – thank goodness. I seriously thought I had broken my ankle. Ellen took Ellie and Elizabeth and Jennifer (remember, she still has a hurt back), lifted me up and kept saying, “We have to keep moving, you have to get up.” I managed to “suck it up/pony up” and walked to the next border at Kazakhstan. Entry there was much smoother and after standing in line for just a bit, we were all through.

The drivers were still not through and had parked a ways off so Sergei took us to use the “toilet”. It was a “pay” toilet and Sergei paid the coins for all of us. When we walked in and I realized it was a porcelain hole in the ground and smelled, um, foul, I decided I could wait (five hours or so it turned out). So did Jennifer. We managed to walk back to the cars and when the drivers arrived, we were off again.

The drive over was beautiful. The countryside of Kazakhstan was different from Kyrgyzstan with many more mountainous areas and more farming. The land is so unspoiled along that drive and there were very few businesses/gas stations. Instead, there were random farms with cows, horses and sheep dotting the fields. We even saw camels in one spot and Jennifer and I were both amazed!

Ellie was very good in car. She napped for a little while, but spent a lot of time laughing, playing and watching the countryside as well. Sergei and Volare laughed at her when we stopped for another bathroom break (again, we passed) and she was having a giggling festival!

We arrived in Almaty shortly after dark. Let me just say, traffic in Almaty makes rush hour in Atlanta look like rush hour in Chapmansboro. There are lines on the roads, but I think they are a suggestion and not used by pretty much anyone. Both Jennifer and I were literally scared out of our minds the entire time we were driving in the city. Every muscle in my body was tense. I had a death grip hold on Ellie. We arrived at the hotel in a fit of giggles because we were so punchy over our ride. We were a riot to see with Jennifer bent at the waist and me limping. It didn’t take long for our six month-old baby to wipe us completely out, did it?

The poor baggage guy was EXHAUSTED after he loaded all our luggage. It wouldn’t fit on one luggage cart there was so much. It took him and a friend three tries to get it up the ramp as it kept rolling backwards.

We checked in and were excited to find that our room would be two rooms with two beds per our coordinator and would only be $140 a night. I was really excited – until we go to the room. It was tiny, dark, one room with a bath, one full size brick in the middle of the room that was being passed off as a bed. There were two wall lights that had about a 40 watt light bulb so it was very dark. The thing that cinched the room was the bathroom which smelled of urine so bad we almost gagged (remember porcelain toilet at border story – same smell). Jennifer and I looked at each other and agreed we could not stay in this room. About this time, we got a call from Elizabeth asking if our room was small. They had gotten a suite and apparently it was small as well. We went up to see their room, which was much nicer than ours, but still very small for a suite. Apparently, the hotel has some renovated rooms and others that are not. Elizabeth’s was; ours was not.

We went back downstairs to inquire about another room that would be more roomy for us for the four days we were going to be here. The only thing they had was a renovated suite at $378 a night. We went back up to look at the one they were offering and, while very small as well, we decided it was better than where we were. After already spending 9 days in a hotel room, we knew how hard it is to spend a lot of time in a hotel room with a baby, much less being very cramped and not having a refrigerator. So, we moved. Our new room has a bedroom, bathroom and a “living” room. When we put our luggage in the living room, there was no room to walk. That will give you a clue to the size of the room. Very small, but much better as there is a couch, a couple of chairs and a desk to use and, most importantly, a refrigerator. Unfortunately, they are doing remodeling on the floor above us. *sigh* The noise is frustrating. We are glad now that we have suitcase of snacks as we might have to eat out of our suitcase for four days since we noted on the room service menu that hamburgers are about $15. All the prices here are high.

The only internet we have found is in the lobby and on the second floor. However, there are lots of smokers there so we are trying to only use it when we have to.

It has been a trying day. I’m trying not to sound negative, but this has been a trying day and one I’m glad is over. We are three days from leaving and I’m so very ready.

1 comment:

Margaret and Tom said...

OH those rooms are awful aren't they...we stayed in the NOT updated kind for $140 a night or sooo.....we didn't know there was an upgrade at that point, which I guess is good because we were not tempted then to shell out more uncomfy though...