Friday, December 29, 2006

Over the Pond and through the Steppe

Greetings from Almaty, Republic of Kazakhstan!
We have been here for over a week- actually, today marks the one week anniversary of our residence at Satpaeva 2.
The trip was quite a long one. We left the US on Sunday evening, and arrived in Almaty early Tuesday morning. Luckily we met up with some people from KIMEP (the university where Brooke is working) who whisked us away to our Hotel Kazakhstan. The picture below is the view from our window at the hotel, early in the morning before the daily smog settled in. You can actually see the university- it's the white-ish looking building with the tower on the left side of the photo.

Here's Brooke in our apartment on Christmas morning. Note his glee at having American-style scrambled eggs. Also he found out that he would be a Kazakh millionaire in the near future (that's not saying much). Christmas isn't really celebrated here, and it was just another working day for Brooke. New Year's, apparently, is a huge deal. So this weekend should be eventful!

And here's Brooke at the KIMEP campus. We had snow on Christmas in the evening. It has been fairly cold here, but it doesn't feel as cold as Boston because it's very dry. We hear that the snow stays all winter long, which makes it look very winter-y.

Here's our bedroom- you can see Dagny in one of her favorite spots on the window sill.
We had an interesting experience in the wee hours of December 26th. We both woke up because our wardrobe (the black thing at the right side of the picture) was rocking back and forth very noisily. Then I realized that our bed was also shaking- not a lot, but about as much as when someone who's lying or sitting on the bed is shaking his/her leg. After about 10 seconds (I think) it stopped. Neither of us knew what had happened, and we just went back to sleep. We found out the next morning that it was an earthquake! About 100 miles from here, up in the mountains in Kyrgyzstan, it was something like 5.5 on the Richter scale.

And here is our fabulous living room. We have a little balcony, but our landlady has stored a bunch of junk on it so there's not much room to move around. My favorite part of this picture is the plastic light fixture that I think is supposed to resemble a chandelier. Unfortunately you can't see King Tut in this picture- there's a huge picture of him above the couch, just to the left.

Home sweet home! Yes, the picture below is our building- remarkably well preserved ever since communism. The nicer-looking part in the left bottom corner is Grohe, a store that sells luxury bathroom fixtures.

More details forthcoming. Y'all best post comments. It gets lonely out here in Central Asia.
The End.