There were vague mentions about this weekend being a holiday, but it was never explained the same way twice and I really wasn't all that concerned since it fell on a Saturday. I wasn't concerned that is until I received a call from our interpreter, Irina, on Thursday saying Lera's passport was not in the mail delivered to the passport office. I was reasonably calm until I heard the rest. Due to the upcoming holiday the passport office would be close early on Friday and be closed entirely on Monday! It was 4am in Minneapolis when I received this news and the last thing I wanted to do was wake Randy up with this. My dad took me to my favorite steakhouse and we discussed having to make yet another change to our trip home and who I could possibly scream my frustration at. I mean, this is Ukraine, its an adventure, but for crying out loud!
Since we had a great waiter, who spoke English and was willing to explain things to Americans, I asked what was this holiday that was coming up? He said it was a celebration of winter turning into spring and everyone ate lots and lots and then next week it was (my interpretation) LENT and they could not eat animals. As he walked away and I contemplated how I was going to explain this to Randy, Irina called to say that Lera's passport was delivered late and that we could pick it up at 10 the next morning, before the staff left for the day. I was so relieved I felt giddy. We were going to have her passport, I was going to get to go home with my little girl and be with my other children again.
I made a call to the American Embassy and found out that they too celebrate by closing to the public on Monday. The Embassy was willing to work with me but I still needed to get Lera's medicals which I can't do until Tuesday, but as it stands now, I will still be able to leave as planned. Unfortunatly, I will not be able to do anything about Lera's transit visa from the French Embassy. Ukraine citizens have to jump through lots of hoops to obtain a transit visa and there just isn't time to do this before we leave. This means that we will be spending the evening in the Delta Crown Room - which is not nearly as nice as the ones in the USA but it sure beats the rest of the Airport. Dad had even said we could stay at the Sheraton, located in the Terminal, but no - you still need a visa to do this. You would think that an adopted child would have the same privileges that her parents have - I don't need a visa, but alas, it is not my country.
Irina had a different explanation for International Womans Day. She said that it is a day honoring all women. It is the one day when men cook breakfast and women get gifts. She called it a kind of Valentines Day but not pink and red. Women are given gifts and flowers on this day. Her sister in law says people celebrate hard and are drunk for days. I guess there is a difference in small towns (where Irina lives) and big cities (where Yelena is lives). Irina also told us that it was a fairly new holiday that was suggested by a French woman politician, and while Europeons are aware of it, it is celebrated primarily by the slavic nations.
In Odessa, the streets are filled with street vendors selling stuffed animals and more flowers than I have ever seen outside of Mothers Day. It looks very spring, and the weather is warm and I see lots of children at the park. It does appear that the town is becoming busy or gearing up for something. I hope to be on a train tomorrow night heading for Kyiv, so I will miss the festivities but I will have my own celebration after we get home.