Irina arrived this morning and we went to pick up Lera's passport. It was there waiting and looked like the Holy Grail to me. I was so happy. Now barring a computer issue at the Embassy, we will be leaving on March 12th at 12:55pm.
We could not get tickets for the overnight train to Kyiv for tonight and I wasn't anxious to get on a bus with Lera for 5 hours, but we did get a compartment for Saturday night. Unfortunately, our room was reserved for this evening so we moved to another room. It is very nice as well, but it overlooks the front of the hotel and the road outside it kind of busy. Lera loves looking at the Macheena(cars) from the window, though.
We went for a walk with Irina after we discussed the plans for Kyiv. She is returning to her home this evening and we won't see her again, but she did say that if we needed her, that we could call her on the cellphone for help. She had asked us about the steakhouse restaurant last time she was here, so we took her for supper there.
The people at this restaurant recognize us and and are very friendly. Irina asked us what "Kansas Ribs" were and we convinced her to order these. She really liked the ribs and it was a real treat for her because she has to be very careful with her money - I believe she is hoping to buy a house someday. It is very hard to do this in Ukraine - there are no credit cards or checks even, so you must pay for everything you buy with cash that you have. Irina has 2 children. Most Ukrainians have only one - this is causing the population to shrink. The government has started some programs recently to encourage citizens to have a second child but it is still expensive to have children here. They think we are insane because we have 2 children already and we are adopting another - and all of our children have special needs! I don't think you can get anymore special than these:
Back to this phenomenon of Ukraine holiday. We noticed as the day progressed that Odessa seemed even busier than usual and the people seemed to be getting rowdier. It certainly seemed like there were many more young crowds of people. Dad went out around 7 to pick up snacks for Lera - she is always hungry - he returned and said the beggars were very aggressive this evening and seemed to be out in force. There also seemed to be more of the "thug element" out tonight than he had ever seen previously here. Not as threatening as some in the States but he decided he wouldn't be going out again this evening. Around 9pm, the noise outside seem to escalate. There were people walking the streets drinking and laughing. I could hear cheering coming from the park and the street in front of the hotel was jammed with cars honking. Every once in a while, someone staggered against a car and an alarm started to blare.
When the fireworks started it wasn't much of a surprise. The 1st night Randy and I were in Kyiv, they set off fireworks. I slept through it but Randy was awakened and thought "Great! Civil unrest has broken out!" The next day, it was explained that Ukrainians love fireworks...the have them for birthdays, weddings - sometimes just because. What did surprise me about the fireworks were that they were directly outside my window and Ukrainians do not believe in small firecrackers, so each time they set these mammoth things off, every car alarm on the street went off from the percussion. This happened on 5 different occasions before it finally started to settle down outside. Wow, came for an adoption, got to experience Ukraine Mardi Gras - and the holiday is actually tomorrow.