February 24th - Day 14: Emil meets his Uncle Robin

Well, Dave definitely has something.  What started as a crumby cold with congestion, a cough, and a sore throat has turned into nausea and an over-functioning digestive tract … if you know what I mean.  We’re assuming that it’s not food poisoning as we’ve all pretty much been eating the same thing and the rest of us are fine.  It’s either a bug that he brought with him or something that we’ve all been exposed to and is hitting him harder.  He lay low all day today, spending most of it on the couch or in bed.  While he hasn’t eaten much, he’s been drinking water and ginger ale (we found some Schweppes at the new supermarket!), and taking Immodium.  It seems to be helping; now he just feels weak.  We’re hoping that after another good night’s sleep, he’ll be feeling much better tomorrow. 

So, since Dave wasn’t able to go to the baby house today, I called the interpreter to see if Robin could come with me instead.  She said that that would be fine.  We were thrilled!  Emil finally got to meet his Uncle Robin!  At the baby house, I pointed out the entrance to the room where Emil would be if he were currently with the rest of his group (group #2).  (They are keeping him in isolation for the remainder of his time here so he won’t be at risk for getting sick again from the rest of the kids.)  I also showed him the general area where Emil’s isolation room is.  We went upstairs and waited for Emil in the music room.  They brought him in right away and said that “he’d been waiting for us!”  (This is at least the second or third time they’ve said this!  It’s a great feeling!)  He was happy to see us and showed no anxiety at all about having Robin there.  Emil was immediately interested in Robin’s unshaven beard, whiskers, glasses, and all the hair on his head.  I had thought he might have been a little guarded at first, not being accustomed to men and not having Dave in the room, but he was absolutely fine … even entranced!

Emil has gotten more and more vocal.  Today he was babbling non-stop.  He coos, gargles, does the raspberry thing with the lips (why is that called “raspberries” by the way?), laughs, shrieks, giggles and cries.  It’s amazing!  He was virtually silent when we first met him a week ago and now he is so talkative!  Robin really got him going by bouncing him on his lap and lifting him up and down on his leg.  A big hit!

We learned some more about the welding situation.  (The welders have been working on the pipes in the building’s basement since Monday to try to get us all some hot water.)  Apparently, the welders are hired by the government.  Even when the building is privately owned, the government provides the labor to do the repairs.  The apartment owners and renters pay for this through some sort of a condominium association fee that goes right to the government.  The welders usually show up around 10, work for a couple of hours, have lunch for a couple of hours, and leave by 3 or 4.  Needless to say, it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting any hot water for the rest of our stay!

Between visits, Masha took us to the Museum (don’t know the complete name).  It’s a beautiful building, apparently renovated with oil company money, and everything is very nicely displayed.  The exhibits included everything from arrows and vessels found from the stone age right up to modern day events.  Apparently, they even used to have a yurt set up so that you could see what a real one looked like, inside and out.  Unfortunately for us, it’s no longer on display.

Some interesting things I learned were that the Kazakhs were originally European in appearance and that the first infusion of Asian blood was from China, Japan and Korea.  The Mongolian characteristics that are so prevalent today didn’t appear until Genghis Khan (sp?) came through the territory.  The Czar (sp?) repressed the Kazakhstan people by restricting their ability to move from place to place with their herds as they were accustomed.  The people objected to this and started many uprisings.  Stalin, in fact, strictly prohibited the movement of the Kazakhstanis and, as a result, many people died since they were not able to move with their herds in search of better pasture and greater water supply. 

Another interesting thing that I learned was the symbolism of the Kazakhstan emblem and flag.  The cross in the center is what the top of a yurt looks like when you peel back the cap and look right down on it; it’s a symbol of hospitality.  The rays that go out from the center represent friendship.  The horses on either side with wings and a horn symbolize the ability to dream.  And, the eagle flying under the emblem on the flag represents freedom.

It was a great museum with fascinating things to learn; I plan to go back to take pictures of the things we were most interested in (batteries died while we were there).



Note:  If I don’t get the pictures before we update the website, check back later for a revised entry for this date.  I'll also double check my facts on the history info.  (Pictures to post:  yurt, ceremonial costume, everyday attire, camels carrying load, Igor’s grandfather, wedding dress, emblem, flag, decorative jewelry and head gear, etc.)

After our afternoon visit, Igor took us to see the outside of Baby House #1, where the Andrews’ (our travel partners) son is.  It’s much larger than the one where Emil is and has as least twice as many children.  We also got to see the Maternity Hospital (#2) where Emil was born.  It was definitely a tender moment for me to think that this was where Emil came into the world.  I wish Dave could have been there; hopefully, he will have an opportunity to see it when he feels better.

Sierra was such a good sport about seeing her Uncle Robin go to the baby house today.  I spoke with the director (via Masha) and asked if there was any way Sierra could come and meet Emil.  She said that maybe Saturday but that she would let me know.  She reiterated that, even though Emil is much better, there are still other children in the orphanage who are sick and she is concerned for Sierra’s well being.

Now that the sun is back out, it’s bitter cold again but Sierra and I still went out to play.  I discovered a playground not too far from our apartment building and Sierra went on everything.  Nothing like what we’re used to in the U.S. , to be sure, but she’s not picky.  She just loves to climb!

As we sign off, we want to let you know how very much it means to us to hear from you via the guest log.  Ironically it makes us homesick and gives us strength to carry on at the same time.  Your thoughts and messages are such a wonderful reflection of the love that we feel coming from family, neighbors, and colleagues and a reminder of what an incredible community Emil is about to become a part of.  We know he feels your love!  He is happy and hopeful and you are every bit a part of that!  Thank you for your interest, your enthusiasm, your encouragement, your love, and your prayers … they really make a difference in helping us to feel connected!   May God bless each and everyone of you and keep you safe and well!   Dave, Amy, Sierra, Emil, and Robin




                Gee, Uncle Robin, you're fun!


                                Baby House #1                                                    Maternity Hospital #2 (where Emil was born)


                            Gymnast in the snow!

                    Removing snow from the streets