Monday, May 11, 2009

More adventures

Yes, it's true. I was looking the other direction as a giant orange dump truck came towards us. I really think I was watching all the other cars to our right enter the roundabout as we waited for the "perfect" moment.

We did have quite a few laughable moments. After we left the orphanage the first day we returned to the hotel. Our translator told us there was a restaurant in the hotel, which featured good food, and an English menu (Praise Jesus, and English menu!). We (Steve, myself, and the other couple traveling with us) headed to the restaurant about 5:45. We were greeted by an older Russian woman who spoke sternly in Russian. The gist - we aren't open.

We returned to the rooms, and gave it a half hour. About 6:15, we went back downstairs. This time, no lights, no answer. The place was empty. And then we remembered to corner market. That morning our translator took us to the store just behind the hotel to get some water. The four of us remembered the electric tea pot in the room (I told you it would be gold later). Surely there would be something that we could cook with boiled water?

We hightailed it back to the room for coat and umbrellas (it never really did stop raining while there), and headed to the store. When we walked in, we were spotted as Americans, and followed around the store. Most of what was in the store was fresh food...and then we found it. Pre-packaged boxes with pictures of what looked like noodles. All the words were in Russian, so we had no idea what flavor we were getting, or if it even was roman noodles. We also located an array of Lay's potato chips. We were intrigued by such flavors are crab, mushroom, and ham and cheese. I found the standard cheddar, while Steve located the sour cream and onion. A few bottles of water finished the trip.

Russians also have a thing for exact change. Few take credit cards. Our total came to 386 rubles, just over $10 American. Steve handed the cashier 500 rubles. She gave Steve a funny look, and said what we took to translate to "do you have exact change." Steve gave her a funny look and said what she took to translate as "I dunno." She quickly realized the language barrier and gave us our change.

We headed back to the room, boiled the water in the awesome tea pot, and had roman noodles and potato chips, and watched ESPN dubbed over in Russian.

The next morning, we couldn't go to the orphanage, so we headed out for some authentic Russian souvenirs...Matryoshka dolls. Our translator took us to one of the shops. We presumed she knew the owner. We primarily were wanting toys for the nieces and nephew...traditional toys of Russia. The cool thing about this shop was that you could see the shop workers making the toys and the dolls in the back, so you knew they were the real deal. I got a hand painted scarf. These are very popular amongst the Russian women. As I was paying for the scarf, the shop owner showed me the signature of the artist, and asked if I would like to meet her, and watch her paint. Before I could say sure, the motioned for me to follow her. We walked into a small room in the back where a woman was painting another scarf. The shop owner told her I had purchased one of her scarves, and she asked me if I wanted to paint. She picked up a brush, handed it to me, pointed to the color she wanted, and the location on the scarf. I felt a bit like I was on the Amazing Race. Here I was, halfway around the world, painting a scarf. Who does those things?!?

After we left the shop, we drove through the downtown area, on our way to the roundabout. Good thing we ate after, of lunch might have repaid a visit! Lunch was at a local restaurant. We had fried chicken breast, and cubed potatoes with cheese. The cheese looked almost like butter, but tasted so good. We had Russian hot chocolate for dessert. It's not like American hot chocolate. This is more of a pudding that a drink. According to this recipe, it's 2 parts dark chocolate, 1 part white chocolate, and one part chocolate ice cream, melted together. It was very rich, and even the dark chocolate lover Steve couldn't finish it.

Our lunch conversation was interesting. We learned more about our translator. We discussed the current climate of international adoptions in Russia (it is not favorable of Americans). We talked about what to expect during our court session with the judge.

After lunch we headed back for a quick nap. The afternoon would bring the last chance to see the boys before we left.