I woke to drizzle and grey skies at 5:30 this morning. Craig was already up and making tea. Unfortunately, he woke up at 2:30 and couldn't get back to sleep. Since we were both up, we answered emails, had our breakfast, then headed to town for our morning coffee. We were among the first patrons at the Korona; as we sipped our cappuccino, we watched the girls set out tempting entrees and salads in glass cases. The bakery items were already on display; elaborate cakes and tortes, pastries, cookies, and cream puffs are all sold by the gram and they taste as good as they look. We passed on the sweets but chose some things for our dinner, then we were off to wander through the streets of Ust.
We decided to visit the open air market, one of our favorite places to shop. With winter not far off, the stalls are filled with fur coats, hats, and the most beautiful boots. (Kate, Dad and I saw dozens of boots you would love, from ankle high to over the knee styles...wish you were here to shop with me!) We left the market and walked all the way back to the apartment, logging between 3 and 4 miles on our morning stroll. We enjoy the exercise that our daily walk provides; it offsets the 6 hours of sitting that we do each afternoon.
Speaking of our trip to Ridder, it was a typical day on the road. We saw sheep, horses, cows, goats,and pigs grazing on the roadside and our driver kept a watchful eye on the wandering livestock. We had another new driver, a pleasant fellow who was much less prone to risk taking than yesterday's driver. In the end, we decided that it was like having a race car driver one day and someone's granny the next...maybe tomorrow, we'll find a happy medium! As we neared Ridder, the sky cleared briefly and I could see the golden sun illuminating the stands of birch trees. The snow capped mountains that surround Ridder are always a beautiful and welcome sight; it means we're getting close and the best part of our day is about to begin.
We're less of a novelty at the orphanage now. We are greeted warmly by kids and staff and we make our own way to the director's office. Today, the director was at a meeting and Natalya, our ministry official, returned to her office for a while, leaving us to visit the boys with only the translator present...woohoo! The boys ran through the door, greeting us warmly and looking hopefully for GameBoys to play with. We brought out the computer and showed them pictures from home and the pics we've taken of them this week, then we let them play videogames for a while. We also measured the boys to get a sense of their sizes...if all goes well, we'll be buying them new clothes soon. When Natalya returned, we chatted about life in Ridder and life in Salem; it was another great chance to find common ground. When the director returned from his meeting, he greeted us warmly and reviewed the weekend bonding schedule...yes, we'll be driving to Ridder on Saturday and Sunday as well. In fact, kids here in KZ go to school 6 days a week (Max, are you reading this? They have school on Saturday! Doesn't that stink?) so we'll be visiting tomorrow again at 3pm. On Sunday, we can visit them at 11am; it will be a nice change of pace. Our 5th day ended with warm goodbyes and we were on the road again...10 more days to go...
Madiyar showed us what he did with some of the tattoos we gave him...pretty cool, huh?