Tue. 5/23/00 (12:45 am home time)
Well, we are on an airplane finally on our way to Ukraine! It got kinda scarry for a while though! Just over a week ago, I called Lufthansa to request our seat assignments and they told me that we did not have tickets! That we were only on a waiting list! It turned out that we were double booked (& of course she looked up the reservation that was not paid for)! It took 2 days to get that straightened out but we were still concerned that we had so little time between flights in D.C. (we were supposed to fly from Raleigh, NC at 3:30 pm to Washington D.C., then Germany, then Ukraine) so we decided to get to the airport early yest. & get on an earlier flight. United has a flight every hour & when I called Sunday, the 2 flights before us were ˝ empty.
The flight has been a little bumpy but it’s a 767 so it’s not scarry, just hard to sleep! Mitch & I had some wine & champagne to help us sleep (free on international flights!) It didn’t work but we did get kinda silly for a while. We were trying to pick out names & it got pretty interesting. I’d tell you what we came up with but they were so bad I can’t remember! We had steak for dinner & then tried to sleep. I ended up watching some of the movie. Now we are eating breakfast (it’s only been 4 hours since dinner!) & the sun has been shining since midnight! This time difference thing is weird.
I think Mitch misses my mom. He keeps asking me if I think she’s still crying! Oh, & he said to say he misses his sheepies ( that’s what he calls his dog Juneau)!
Ow, ears are popping. I guess we are landing soon. More later!
(4:00 am home time
9:00 am London time)
We are at the London Gatwick airport waiting lounge. We have to wait here for about 3 hours. It’s very strange because it’s like a big shopping mall with thousands of chairs in the middle with people sleeping! It feels so good to lie down on this bench but it’s too bright & noisy to sleep so we are watching the people working in the stores straighten their counters over & over again! And listening to everyone talk funny!
Oh yeah. Before we left, the flight attendant gave us a bottle of wine for Mitch’s b-day & a bottle of champagne because we’re adopting! Nice, wasn’t it. I just wish we had a place to put it!
9:00 pm local Ukraine time
2:00 pm home time)
The rest of the flight was uneventful. We were very tierd but whenever we fell asleep, 5 minutes later they were asking us if we wanted another drink or something! Dinner was Chicken Curry. Yuck! But since I barely touched breakfast, I figured I’d better force it down.
There was a guy in front of me that didn’t speak English & needed something but no-one understood him. I tried to help but the flight attendants kept yelling at him that he couldn’t smoke. At the end of the flight he points to Mitch & says “who that man?” so I point to my wedding ring. For the next 10 minutes he kept going “sorry, sorry, thought her alone!”
We got off and bought our required medical insurance & went through customs. We had to open one zipper on one suitcase to show them a lazer pointer & then they started pointing to the customs card where it said how much money we had. By this time, we saw our facilitator outside the door holding a sign with our names on it when someone else went through so we waved him in to translate. Igor found out that they thought we had 2x the money & fixed our forms & then we were on our way!
Now we are back in the room & Mitch is still trying to make the computer work. Whatever! I’m too tierd to think! It’s been 33 hours since I slept & we have a vey busy day ahead so I’m going to bed!
*BTW, the room is much nicer than I expected but very small with 2 beds (smaller than twins, more like cot size) & very little room to move around!
Wen. 5/24/00 11:10 am (4:10 am home time)
This morning we were up early because we were so afraid we would oversleep! We would wake up every 2 hrs. thinking it was morning. I finally took some Melatonin & only woke up once.
We went downstairs & had breakfast. It was a buffet that was included in the room price so we have no idea what we ate! *BTW, the hotel we stayed at is called “Hotel Lybid”.
Then we met Igor & walked to the adoption center. We walked down a street & turned into an alley. He opened the door to a building & we went in. We walked up some stairs & he had to sign us in. We walked up a few more flights & with every step, I could feel myself getting more & more nervous. The walls were bare & uneven & the paint was coming off near the ceiling. We got to the top & turned down a long hallway. One side had doors & the other a row of chairs, nothing, then more chairs. We walked to the end & sat down. It was 8:45 am & we were the 1st ones there. They open at 9. Other people started to come too & finally, at 9:20 they waved us into a room, pointed to chairs, & left. Igor went to talk to someone & we were left alone in a room sitting in chairs facing each other. It was a nice enough office with 3 small desks, many chairs, some cabinets, 2 computers (one was a pentium 166) & an HP lazer printer. Igor came back & a woman came in & started talking to him about us & looking through a list. She then got out a binder & started flipping through it. I could see pictures of children in it but she was going through it so fast all I really could tell was a lot were wearing big bows on top of their heads. Then another woman came in, started yelling at the 1st, took the list away from her & left! When she came back, she took over & had (what sounded like) a very heated discussion with Igor. He stayed very calm & later told us everything was fine, she just has a very stressful job. By this time, all 3 desks had people working at them & everyone seemed to be involved in this conversation except us. Mitch & I just kept looking back & forth at whoever was talking and they acted like we wern’t there! Igor left to talk to Mrs. Kunko & I said to Mitch that I felt like I was in a Star Trek episode where they were in a phase/time rift & no-one could see us even though we saw them! It was as though we didn’t exist! Igor came back & said we are going to Kharkiv & to wait in the hall for our letter to visit. They never showed us any pictures! By the time they gave us our paperwork, everyone was so busy that we had to sit for another ˝ hr. just to give them the thank you gifts we brought! It was a very strange & confusing experience. And they talk so fast that I barely recognized any ot the words I’ve been studying. Mitch said it just sounds like one run on sentence of a few very long words! I have to say that I didn’t stay nervous very long. I was so board, sleepy (it was the middle of the night our time), or totally lost so much of the time that I almost forgot why we were there!
So now we are resting before we treat Igor to lunch. Then he’s taking us sightseeing before he puts us on a 10 hr. train! More later!
7:10 pm (12:10 pm home time)
We had to come back to the room so Erina (from the agency at home) could call us. Then we went sightseeing for a while! We went to St. Sophia’s Cathedral that has been made into a museum. We paid admission to get in & then had to pay an extra 10 grivnia to take pictures! (It’s only ~2 buckss but still!) It was really beautiful inside. There were paintings & mosaics everywhere! Every inch of wall & ceiling! Then we went to a street (really, really long street) lined with people selling stuff. I’ve never seen so many stacking dolls in my life! And all the vendors could spead English! Go figure! They all took one look at us & would say “come look here, I have the cheapest price” or “no one else has this one” yeah right! When you walk away, the price goes down or they say “what can you afford?” One time Mitch answered “one dollar, whole table”. Luckily, the guy didn’t hear him! We tried to buy Igor some stuff but he wouldn’t let us. On the way home we stopped at St. Vladimir’s Cathedral. Even Mitch & I got a chill when we walked in. It’s the oldest church in Ukraine & absolutely magnificent inside. People were praying so we coulddn’t take pictures inside but it had even more artwork than the 1st (which I didn’t think was possible)!
LAUREL & SAMANTHA