February 22nd - Day 12: Emil gets a massage; City Tour
We woke up this morning to almost twelve inches of
fresh snow it is so beautiful! Its
interesting to see how they deal with the snow here.
For one thing, I cant tell that anything slows down because of the
snow and, according to Masha, the schools never even close for a snow day.
Ever since I got up, there have been people outside shoveling.
Most of the shovels are handmade
a 1 x 1 piece of wood secured
to a thick sheet of aluminum. Weve
also noticed some shovels that have two long sticks of wood and another
in-between, so that instead of shoveling and picking up the snow they just push
or plow it out of the way. People
also sweep the snow away with brooms made of sticks tied together. They do have
snow plows to remove the snow from the streets.
The trucks have a plow on the front (more like the size youd see on a
pick-up in the States than on a town plow) and a long rotating brush (like a
vacuum cleaner brush) underneath. Once
theyve cleared the middle of the road, they come back with a tractor to
flatten the pile on the side of the road and plow half of it back out into the
street. This creates a nice neat row
of snow which a conveyor belt then picks up and drops into a dump truck to be
taken away. We were impressed that,
even with the fairly large amount of snow that fell, most of it had disappeared
by this evening!
We also saw several examples today of how people bundle up
their babies for the cold. While
toddlers are so bundled they cant even move, babies are bundled up so much it
looks like theyre hidden within sleeping bags.
Seriously, thats how you recognize when someone is carrying a baby
it looks like they have their arms wrapped around a sleeping bag!
They put the baby in a snowsuit and then wrap him or her several times
with a heavy blanket or comforter, covering the head, and then put a rope or tie
around it so it wont open up! I
dont know how they breathe!
I dont think this is necessarily weather-related, but
it appears quite common for people to be out of water in their homes.
There are many places along the streets and sidewalks where there are
spigots (sp?) or faucets for people to fill their bottles and buckets with
water. What weve seen most often
is that people will bring a large milking can on a sled to fill up and cart
away. For some reason, we havent
had any hot water ourselves for a couple of days.
The cold water is so cold (much more so than our well water at home), it
hurts. Im sure the only reason it
doesnt freeze is because its flowing.
When the welders come to work on the pipes each day, we dont have any
water at all. Were grateful to
have (cold) water at night, at least. Were
starting to get used to it. Good
thing because its not looking like well be getting hot water any time
We had a surprise during our morning visit with Emil
we got to see him get a massage! We
were excited to witness a part of what his baby house care has included and to
learn how they give him a massage so we can continue to do it the same way.
The massage therapist used Vaseline and was so gentle and loving with him
(which always makes us feel good). It
was also a treat just to see his body! Its
been kind of odd to have been visiting him for over a week now and not have
dressed him or changed him. We
havent had a clue about what he looks like under all those layers of
clothing! They stripped him all the
way down to his diapers for his massage and it was good to see that he has all
. ten toes! He
has beautiful, soft, olive skin and looks very healthy! He
is soooo precious! The bad thing
about the experience was that he hated it! He
screamed almost the whole time! The
therapist said that he had not had a massage in quite a while and probably
didnt remember her. Or, it might
have been the fact that he was virtually naked and perhaps a little cold.
He would not be comforted until we got his clothes back on and it was
clear to him that the massage was over!
Between visits today, we got a mini tour of the city.
Basically, it was a drive down main street to the Old Cathedral at the
end. Igor and Masha drove us down
past the Kazakh Theater, some of the local government buildings, library, trade
center, a hospital, the citys oldest cinema, the university that Masha went
to, a nature museum, and the military hospital.
The buildings were built mostly in the 19th century out of
brick and wood. In the last seven
years, they have done a lot of renovating and many of them are painted with
different pastel colors like pink, yellow, teal, green, and blue.
The colors almost make the buildings look
. Once past the Pushkin Hotel, there
are no more tall buildings (2-5 stories) until you get to the Old Cathedral,
just old wooden Russian homes. The
small wooden homes are typical of what the Russians used to live in; now most
people live in apartment buildings. The
old Russian Orthodox Church was so beautiful inside.
It was beautiful to look at. More
than anything, though, being there made me realize how much I miss going to
church and attending Bible study. I
found such peace just being in Gods house; it was wonderful for me.
After that, Igor drove us past the World War II memorial monument.
It was quite impressive and Ill have to go back to get a picture of
it. It has two slender spires going
up into the sky and the people believe that when you look at the top you are
closer to those who died during the war, because they are in heaven.
The last thing on our tour was the mosque which we also just drove by.
The whole thing was much too quick for me ...
not nearly enough time to ask questions, get out of the car, and take
pictures. Im thinking maybe
tomorrow I will go for a walk to take pictures of what we saw.
Tonight we got together for dinner with the Peace Corps
representatives here in Uralsk. Weve been trying to track them
down for a week to learn more about what theyre doing here and to get the
inside scoop on the city. Well, they
are wonderful people and very knowledgeable and helpful.
Terry is working at the International
Center. They have an incubator where
entrepreneurs can start their own businesses.
IBC provides the office space and technical and administrative support
while they get started as well as some business training.
Two other aspects of what IBC does are intranet work and business loans.
Oil is the largest and strongest industry in Kazakhstan
and the IBC is trying to find ways to help diversify the economy.
There is an oil field a few hours from here by car.
Terry and Sue are going there this weekend and theyre going to find
out if Robin can go with them. Apparently
there is a 40 year plan: 10 million dollars of the oil companies profits for
each of the next 40 years will go into the local economy.
Thats not much for a city this size (200,000 plus) but its pretty
much what the city is living off of. Of
course, much of that is probably ending up in someones back pocket and few of
the locals are seeing any of it. Sue
is more involved with NGO work and is currently working on a project with Zhas
Dauren, the orphanage for kids 8 years old and up.
I dont know the details of her work but will find out more and share
It was so nice to meet them and learn more about what to
do here and about the local economy. Sue
is going to try to arrange for a traditional Kazakh meal to be prepared for us
before we go! Should be interesting!
Emil with massage
His doctor helps to get him dressed again