I would post a photo of Veeka's birthplace, but one of the computers here at this Internet cafe flamed out my flashdrive. I tried buying one today at the electronics store but the way one goes about ordering one, paying, then picking it up at a different counter involved a lot more Russian than I can manage. Very disheartening. Must say I feel like a deaf-mute here; having to use sign language most of the time and just avoiding peoples' glances in general (as they stare at my ski coat). Unfortunately I've caught Veeka's cold, so I did have to negotiate the local pharmacist, but when I saw some HALL's menthol drops, I grabbed them.
Today was the end of our required 15 days of visitation at the orphanage. It was one of the worst days I've had there. Veeka either just sat and looked at the other couple with their angelic child or screamed bloody murder when I took her to a different room to get her to concentrate on me. Nothing would soothe her. The caretakers bought out some potato soup so I could have a chance at trying to feed her and she wouldn't let me get near her. She finally even threw a fit with the caretaker. Great.
Afterwards, our driver took us on a tour of Rudny, an industrial town of 100,000, they say, but it didn't look much larger than 60,000 if that. Lots of Soviet-style statues of brawny, block-like men and women and shabby apartment blocks. We took photos of the local maternity hospital and the local open market. People actually have open-air stalls here which they sell out of, in the snow and all. I tell you, these folks treat 20-degree weather like we'd treat something in the 70s. We passed by a local monument to the all the iron ore workers (Rudny is a national center for minerals and the local water tastes like it!) and I must say it is one drab place. The adoption agencies won't let their clients stay there; everyone stays in Kostenai where there's less crime and more to do.
Tonight we visit a local hot spot where there's a belly dancer and shish kebab. It's supposed to be one of the more swinging places in north-central Kazakhstan so stay tuned.