Upon arrival in Semey ... Olga, the coordinator, Larissa, the interpreter, and Pasha, the driver all met us at the airport with our names on their signs. They literally swept us up and loaded everything in two vans and we headed off for the town of Semey. Semey doesn't have any grass. That was the first thing I noticed. It is dirt and mud pretty much. The standard of living appears much different here in Semey. The apartment buildings remind me of the ones I would see in Harlem in NY City ... only a more concrete look to them. But as we drove, I cherished every site knowing this is Noah's home. I wanted to soak it all in. While we drove, Olga turned and looked directly to us speaking introductions, instructions, etc. in Russian as Larissa simultaneously translated in English. You really had to concentrate! They told us we would first go to our apartments and then go right away to the orphanage.
We went to my apartment first. When you enter the building you go in a dank, dark, stairwell and go up to the 3rd floor. I have to admit ... I was nervous ... but I just followed the crew. The owner, Natsihat, was there to greet us. We opened that door to a warm, quaint, and comfortable apartment. I was so impressed as Natsihat showed us around. There is a living room with a t.v. and a comfy sofa and two chairs ... a kitchen with a fridge, freezer, microwave, small stove, small washing machine, sink ... an office with a small desk (high speed modem included! Yippeeeeeee!) ... a room with a piano in it (can you believe it?????) ... a bedroom with new sheets on the bed ... a toilet room ... a bath room (with new towels). I've included photos of the apartment along with one photo showing the view from the kitchen window.
For those of us ... including me ... that were thinking I would truly be roughing it while here ... rest assured I am more than comfortable!!!