Thursday, December 01, 2005

What we will miss

Our time is winding down here in Semey. We still don’t know when. Here are some things we will miss:
Our time together – 3 weeks without Chris or Barbara leaving for work. With the language problem we pretty much have been in-separatable during this whole time, shopping eating and visiting. We have enjoyed this time.
We will miss the city life. It has been great being able to walk to a store or a park or even the internet café. We will miss writing our life story to the world. This will be a good kick start to our journaling days.
We will miss our buddies at the café. They will miss us.
We will miss our movie night. 8:00 every night we set up the theater in our room and enjoy our wine and Pringles and our quiet time together. We will see if maybe we can keep this in the future…Something tells me this is not reality.
We will miss going to the orphanage. Picking up Michael with his big smile for a greeting; Picking Grace as she bops/hops down the hall leading to her big greeting for her little brother.
We will miss our little family room, although we know the kids are ready to bust out of that room. When the time comes for us to reminisce about the quiet and simple times with the kids, we will fondly remember our time in the family room.
We will miss Raushan, our friend and protector. It is nice to know there is someone in town worrying about us. We will miss our great conversations.
We will miss our driver Almas. How great is it to have a driver take you around the city every day. Almas was more then that, it was fun hearing about his tests for his law degree and stories about his girlfriend. We will miss his big smile.
We will miss our daily tea.
We will miss our dinner in the same restarant in the hotel every night. Those people know us well and we enjoy eating in their company.
We will miss the few times where were heard people in town speaking English. At the same time we will miss trying to speak Russian or trying to communicate to Russian speaking people. It is always a great achievement to get what you want without using words.
We will is our daily snow. So far we are up to a total 3 inches after some snow-globe type snow every day. There is not much at a time but it is slowly accumulating. I predict a white Christmas.
We will miss talking to the video camera every day. I hope 21 days of looking out the same window giving a morning commentary is not too monotonous. (My sister Tara you will kill me if when see these videos, bad technique)
We will miss trying to be creative for you, our reading public. Trying to figure out what you would be interested in and what you would think is humorous. We have really enjoyed talking to you. I must admit the pictures of the kids really helped.
We still have a couple of more segments for your reading pleasure, but we are running out of material. We can see by your comments and emails that you have enjoyed this as much as we have. God Bless.

Investors needed.

This is a picture of a rightside view of Semey from our hotel window. That 2nd tiny looking smokestack in the upper center of photo, is accross the street from the orphanage. The closest building used to be a bread factory plus other semi used and abandoned apartment buildings. We had Thanksgiving in the tallest building in the picture. 16 stories is as tall as they get here.
I promised you I would talk about the economics of Semey and Kazakhstan. Have you heard of the pioneers? Kazakhstan became a country in 1993 since then there has been a tremendous amount of people moving. In Semey the Russian military, Russian nationals, Germans and Ukrainians have gone back to their respective countries. This has left a city of about 500,000 people with a current reading up to about 300,000. There is investment opportunity if you are willing to take the risk. What can you get cheap? Food, drink and cigarettes. We eat dinner of two small salads, 2soups, 2 small entrées and 2 beers for 1300 tenge (ten-gay). That is $10. We went to one place for the same price we fed 4 people. You can get 2 beers for $1. A pack of cigarettes cost .35 cents. We would fill our suitcases with cigarettes if we thought we could get past customs. What does the city need? Steel, road repair works, fleece sweatshirts, postcards and cash and much. Semey was a major producer in Soviet times. They had the biggest meat packing plant in the Empire they had bread factories, shoes and clothing factories. All of that is gone. Now all anyone wants to do is import cheap clothes and shoes and sell them in small crowded booths. Everyone sells the same stuff. Every 3rd booth is for kids clothes or toys. Then there are women’s cloths and bags. There are some electronics booths and cell phone booths. The all look the same. What they are missing is manufacturing. In our hotel we see the bread factory that used to employ about 500 people. Now the roof is collapsed. People work a number of jobs, like teach English and then interpret for adopting families. During the transition from the Soviet times there was a time of land grabbing. The people in power took everything. But they didn’t know how to run it. Every time there was a conflict the owners just shut the factories down. Now there are empty buildings every where. The people of the city are very proud of what they have and things are improving. That is why it is time to act. You can get an apartment building for a song. You can get workers to maintain it. You just need renters. If you are willing to lose some rent money early you will make it back in the long run. If you can restart a factory that will hire workers that rent in your buildings things will move faster…It’s a whole economic theory. You need to be in an MBA program to understand it. My brother Michael can explain it if you need helpJ(sorry, inside joke to half of the readers.) Anyway, the city is growing again and they are looking for investors.

Day 4 of parenthood - thursday

On Tuesday we told the kids that they had parents. They weren't impressed. Grace smiled and asked for her juice. Michael asked for his cereal treat. Maybe they didn't understand us. We thought it was good news. We will we tell then again in the future. We are trying to prepare the kids for travel. We have pictures of the house and their rooms so they will recognize it when they see it. We are also starting to walk through the halls with little commands like "walk' and "stop" so they know them when they hear them. Whoever said that our skills we learned while working with the dogs will used for kids, was right. 'Walk' and 'stop' are universal.
Still no word on leaving. It seems that with new laws come new paper work. Our interpreter and coordinator or working overtime with new forms and additional copies. We will keep you informed.