Okay, the train. How do you describe a 13 hour train ride with no open windows, (luckily it wasn’t 90 degrees out) in a room that is 6’ wide by 7’ long, has 2 upper, 2 lower bunks, 4 huge pieces of luggage, 3 adults and a small child? I guess I have just said it all! I don’t even want to get into the “bathroom” said very loosely. I don’t think I can ever erase the memories of that “room” from my mind. I could not even bring myself to take a picture of it to show anyone but, enough of that. As we waited to board the train we could hear people mention under their breath “Americans” We stood out with a Kazakh child, we were a little uncomfortable with it. In Almaty, it is a different story, we are just “people” no looks, stares etc. Maybe because it is a big city and this is much more accepted here. Or maybe, people are just too busy with their own lives to even notice us! No “small town” mentality here. Actually it is also a resort city and there are many Americans (many adoption families) and other foreigners here.

Both times Marie slept just fine on the train, I think the rocking motion does it for her. I slept about 15 minutes every hour! Just couldn’t relax, always doors slamming, people talking and not to mention the 100 or so stops we made along the way. Did we mention that before? This train stops in the middle of nowhere just to let one person off! It seemed just as we got up to the “cruising” speed of 30-35 mph we traveled at, we would stop to let someone off. All night long.
June 26, 2005 Day 2 of travel back to America
Leaving our new "extended family"
Goodbye Aidar....
We arrived in Astana an hour early about 8:15 am, thank God, as our coordinator booked us for a 9:55 am flight to Almaty. Of course at the airport, we had overweight luggage! I found out the girl at the check-in could have reduced the fee we had to pay but she was very mean and rude to me. So it cost us an additional $100.00 in fees. I just told her that I found out she could have reduced this and she chose not to do so, I thanked her for that and then invited her to come to America where we don’t change the rules as we go along.

While entering the terminal, Marie noticed that Gianna noticed the marble flooring and that she must have thought it was wet as she saw her reflection in it, anyway, she was afraid to put her feet on it as if she would fall through it or something. All she has ever known as flooring is vinal linoleum as that’s all Arkalyk had. We started to board the plane and what do you think the “little miss social butterfly” started doing? As we were walking down the isle to our seats she would reach out her hand to each person and shake their hand and say paka paka, (bye bye)! This not only went on and on but once seated she insisted on standing in her seat and waved to everyone that walked by! When we were getting off, she again stood up and said “paka paka” to some and “bye bye” to others. I don’t know how much she really realized but she appeared to know exactly what was going on. Most of this day she would just “skip and hop” along when she walked.
When we got to Almaty, we were excited, as we knew real civilization was just around the corner and is called the “Hyatt Regency”! Much more that we wanted to spend but there are few choices here and they range from the very moderate (like an old motel style place) to the upper end. Okay, do you blame us? It really has just started to sink in about what we lived like for 30 something days. I guess we just mentally blocked it out just to make it through it all. I HAVE ICE AND A REAL BED! This is the first time we have watched a television in over a month.
We took Gianna down for her first swim. When I first saw the pool it reminded me of vacationing with Anthony and our family. I started missing them all so much. I was also feeling really frustrated between the traveling and the long stay we still have ahead, When Bill picked up Gianna and put her in the pool. She was in her glory, laughing and hugging Bill she got so excited to be floating out in the middle with him. I started to cry! This is why we went through all of this. So she could experience the same joys that all our children experience. If we didn’t come all this way and put our lives on hold, she would have never have known what its like splash and play in the pool in her poppa’s arms. You can’t imagine how overwhelming these feelings get for Bill and I. I guess they will subside with time but for now I thank God for choosing us for this awesome gift of loving and caring for Gianna!

Tonight before Gianna went to bed she talked for the first time to her Brother Anthony on our computer through Skyscape they both said “hi” and “I love you” we cant wait to get these two together
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