Yesterday after much searching, tickets were found for the overnight train to the capital city. We were picked up at our apartment at 11:00pm. As we were driving to the train station, our driver explained that it was such a challenge to find tickets due to many students traveling back and forth this time of year. He said he had to purchase tickets from someone, rather than the ticket office at the train station. He continued to tell us that the train was cheap, and it was nothing fancy, so that's what you expect when you get the cheap train. We were just ready to head to the capital city. WELL...let's just say, he wasn't kidding! The train was old! We got up onto the train and it had the scent of an old train, powered by coal. We found our dimly lit cabin for 4 and piled in. We attempted to turn more lights on in our cabin, but half of the cabin's electricity didn't work. SO we sat, in a dimly lit cabin. Once the train started moving, additional lights came on. Anya provided us a delicious late night snack of nutra-"smoosh" bars. (Nurta-grain bars that were smooshed!). We asked for tea on the train, and the train attendant said because the train was so slow, there wasn't enough power to make tea.
After much laughter, we unrolled our bed mats and got ready for bed around 2:00am (according to Anya and Doug). This is the first time on the train that I have ever been cold! I think there was a leak in the window and so cold air kept coming into the cabin.
We arrived in the capital city shortly after 9:00am. A call from our driver to say he was stuck in traffic and to wait on the platform for him. After about 20 minutes, he arrived and off we went. He informed us that we were going directly to our SDA appointment at 10:00am. (We had no idea what time our appointment was before this morning!) GREAT! I was in a t-shirt and yoga pants--clothes that were comfortable to sleep in. Doug and I apologized, and our facilitator said that everyone knew we had come straight from the train and not to worry about it.
Up the stairs of the SDA building to sign a log book, then back out. Our facilitator said that our official appointment was at 2:00pm, so to go walk around the capital city and he would see us back at 2:00pm. Since I refuse to go tot he bathroom on the train, our first objective was to find a BATHROOM! Thank goodness for McDonalds--clean bathrooms, comfort American food, and free Wi-fi. Anya, Doug, and I had brunch at 10:30 and then set out to see the sites of the capital city. We stopped into the pharmacy to pick up some pain reliever for my headache (since mine was in my bag, in the trunk of our driver's car, somewhere in the capital city). The pharmacist asked if I wanted something really strong...um, no thank you. Could you imagine a parent who was completely out of it during an SDA appointment? We sat outside the pharmacy and took in the sights (two love birds on the bench in front of us, making out. PDA is over the top here. Oh yes, and the low rise jeans and thongs are a great pair...I thought I was going to fall off the bench when I heard my Ukrainian friend refer to it as "butt floss") and sounds of the city. The sounds were protesters- either in support or opposition of the prime minister of Ukraine. She was in court today, close to where we were sitting.
We bought the girls traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts. I can't wait to see them in their shirts!
One our walk back to the SDA we noticed all the buckeye trees. Anya told us that they are chestnut trees. I looked up and there are very few differences between the two trees! So we picked up a leaf from the tree, a nut in the shell, and a nut. Here is what we found.
At 1:30 we were back at the SDA, waiting for our 2:00pm appointment. A few minutes after 2:00 we went into the room at the SDA and she got out our little man's file. His file is small since he is only 16 months old. We did learn that he was born to a single mother and he had no brothers or sisters. They always ask if after hearing his file if we would like to meet him. YES! Tomorrow we will pick up little man's referral, and head out on the evening express train and return to the boys region at 11:30pm.
After our appointment there were train tickets to purchase and an apartment key to locate--what a fiasco! We were glad to be in our apartment, and to sit after going, going, going all morning. We had dinner at TGI Fridays (OY, I ate to much, but it tasted so good). As we were leaving, an old lady was begging for money. I love our Anya...she said something to the lady and then gave her the leftovers she had from dinner! When I asked what she had told the lady, Anya said she told the lady she had no money to give her, but she had food she could have. The lady was very appreciative.
Clothes are out of the washer and hanging to dry, Doug is reading, and as he says "the girls are getting their internet fix".
Tomorrow, we hope to visit the Chernobyl museum, then pick up our referral, and head back to the region. On Thursday, we will see our little man! Oh, how I can't wait!
Hannah & Mila- Mama and Papa miss you so much! Be good for Grandmas/Grandpas.