Friday, May 16, 2008

Karaganda Mapping and Other Ramblings

From Wikipedia:
Nurken Abdirov (Kazakh: Нуркен Абдиров) was a Kazakh pilot who served for the Soviet Union in World War II, and was killed in the Battle of Stalingrad. Abdirov is a legendary figure in his hometown of Karaganda, Kazakhstan. According to local history, when Abdirov's plane was disabled by enemy fire, he and gunner Aleksandr Komissarov heroically steered his descent to crash into a column of German tanks, sacrificing his own life to destroy his enemy.
Yesterday, I started working on a Google Map that details all of the key locations and landmarks that have been important to us during our visit here. I'm a bit reluctant to post the map here directly to the blog, as it has some locations that some might find a bit private -- the baby house, our apartment, and so forth. However, if there are any families who are pending travel to Karaganda for adoption, just contact us privately and I'll share it with you. Same goes for any previous Karaganda families.

We're still waiting on a court date. As with most everything else this trip, I expect it will be "hurry up and wait." In the meantime, just about every kid and adult we know here is suffering from some type of head cold. I'm hoping mine clears soon.

Tonight we made our most adventurous meal yet -- chicken fajitas. The results were outstanding, if I do say so myself. Laura found a single package of Ortega fajitas seasoning mix at the Ramstore, a large grocery store. For tortillas, we substituted a locally-available flat bread called lavash. It turns out that lavash makes a better tortilla than most store-bought varieties back home. We also found some canned sliced jalepenos, so Laura combined them with fresh bell peppers, cilantro, and tomatoes for some yummy pico de gallo.

We've taken the city bus several times now between the downtown area and our apartment when our driver is off-duty. It's pretty simple as we never have to change buses, we never have to wait long (it runs every 5 minutes or so), and it is incredibly cheap -- about the equivalent of $0.25 US per person, per trip. It definitely makes for some interesting conversation and people-watching, as well. We made a trip after dark last night in which a congenial young Kazakh man, who already spoke reasonably good English, solicited us for formal English lessons. Suffice it to say that city bus rides out to our apartment's part of town after dark would probably make the "Not Recommended" section of our agency's travel literature.

So, Laura meets this nice and serious young guy at the Cafe Karaganda, our favorite lunch spot. He's prior Army, a two-time Iraq war combat vet, now living and working here as a Peace Corps volunteer. He's a super nice and sharp gentleman. Laura tells him that my little sister, who lives in Oregon, has been interested in the Peace Corps for some time, so she does a brief email introduction. A few days later, my sister sends us a message exclaiming that there is "good news from my recruiter! All my application materials are in, and I have the opportunity to 'put my name in the hat' for a couple different programs in Spring 2009."

No, I'm not making this up. I couldn't make up a better story if I tried. We meet some dude in the Cafe Karaganda while here visiting the baby house, and before I can think twice about it, my sister is running off to join the Peace Corps -- her current assignment "exciting opportunities" include Morocco, Vanuatu, or Palau. Once again, I guess we should pay closer attention to the agency travel literature. In particular, the part about not talking to strangers you might encounter outside of the adoption process. Oh well, at least there are Ryanair flights between Hahn (near Frankfurt) and both Marrakesh and Fes (Morocco), so there's a reasonably good chance that I might see my little sister again one day.

On a final note, I'm working on a longer post about tips for living here temporarily in Karaganda. Please stay tuned -- until then, you may want to consider reading Dr. Sam Blackman's perspectives from his previous life in Konstanai.

1 comment:

tiglilygirl said...

I would love to see your google map, I don't see your email anywhere- maybe I am just overwhelmed with info! Thanks, Katie