Back in Almaty

Sorry I haven’t written in several days. The post travel blues have hit and they’ve hit hard this time. We ended our trip ten days early and that sucked. I mean, I was 50% of the decision making power in that and I did say let’s go home, but actually arriving back home sucked.

We drove 11.5 hours straight to get here, the last couple hours were in the dark and the rain. Raise your hand if you like driving on rural roads in the dark when it’s raining. Then, when we got here there was no toilet paper. We paid someone to live in our apartment all summer to take care of our pets and we left money for things like soap, toilet paper, pet food, and such, the least they could have done was to have bought some toilet paper for us. So at 10PM we had to ask the neighbors if they had a roll of toilet paper we could have. There was also no food in the house. Now, I guess that one’s on me. I didn’t think to ask them to have any food for us, but we were tired and grumpy and the no food int eh house thing didn’t help matters. Then, our animals are all severely overweight. We’ve only been gone 6 weeks!! We feed them a high quality food and keep them on a strict diet. WTF? We left money to buy more if it ran out, but I’m sure I had purchased enough for the summer. Oh. I see. They ran out then bought the cheap, cheap, cheap stuff from the grocery store. So, they had basically been feeding our pets potato chips. I repeat: WTF? We left money!!! But wait! There’s more! Our long hair cat that we left specific instructions to brush daily… yeah… she wasn’t brushed. She’s covered in mats. All this hit us in the first five minutes of our return. And we had had a pretty shitty 5 days already. That’s why we had decided to end our trip early and return home.

I did a thing. Everywhere we live I get a food related tattoo. I have a hamburger tattoo for the US. I have I big plate of dumplings on my back for China. I have a chicken riding a bicycle for Benin (poulet bicyclette-extra points if you get that). I’ve never gotten a tattoo for a country I only visited. Oh my goodness, if I were going to do that, I’d be up to nearly 50 of them by now, but I loved Uzbekistan so much I wanted one. I contacted a tattoo artist I’m fond of and he told me his only free appointment for the next 30 days was tomorrow at 11AM and I said then I guess we’re meeting tomorrow at 11AM. And voila! I have a new tattoo. If you’re in Almaty then I went to Dark Horse Tattoo. I’ve had work done in 4 countries, by 8-9 different artists and this guy is definitely in the top 3 for most gentle. I love having tattoos but normally hate getting tattoos. This one really wasn’t so bad. Kinda made me ready to go back again. The shop is sterile, and everyone is vaccinated. Oh! They have a barbershop inside too.

Pomegranates are the symbol of Uzbekistan. They’re in the art everywhere. You see them in paintings, in tapestries, on ceramics, sculptures, I mean, everywhere! I even got this new table cloth. But you know what? I never actually saw a real pomegranate anywhere. I know they grow them there, they must export them all. Anyway, I will carry a pomegranate with me for the rest of my life.

After my tattoo I was craving some comfort food. Even when I say the guy was gentle, I still had a needle in me for over two hours. I needed some comfort food. To me that’s always burger or pizza. I know, I know… how stereotypical… you can take the girl outta America but you can’t take America always take America outta the girl. So, I’m a member of this FB expats group which I have a love/hate relationship with. Other than posting these blogs I’ve been on a hiatus from FB for many months anyway, but about 8 months back someone posted a question “Who has the best burger in Almaty?” I took this question to heart. I wrote down every restaurant named and I methodically went to every one of them and tried their burger. Some of them were repulsive. Gross. Do these people even know what a hamburger is? How did it wind up on a best of list? Anyway. According to that list, I found the best burger in Almaty. It’s Craft’s double cheese jalapeno burger. I know not everyone like’s jalapenos. So leave them off. I’ll forgive you. It’s still not the best burger ever, come on, we’re in Kazakhstan, but it’s a good burger. Even if I were in the US I’d call it a good burger.

I’ve been shopping almost everyday since we returned. And I hate shopping. The kid’s birthday is Monday and quarantine measures are tight here. Everything is closed on the weekends so I have to get completely prepared by Friday, tomorrow. Oh! Monday is also my first day of work. Ugh. Not really ugh. I love my job. I do. I’ve never loved a job more in my life. It’s just three days of professional development, or as Americans call it: in-service. That’s what I’m ugh-ing about.

She’s turning 15. I’m so proud of her. We adopted her when she was 5.5 and was at the total development stage of a toddler. She could barely speak, was only recently out of diapers, and we were told by the State to not have high expectations for her. In fact, they were pretty damn negative about her altogether. It has been one HELL OF A LOT OF WORK, let me repeat that, A FUCKING LOT OF WORK but at this point she’s only a year behind her peers in school. It’s hard for her, school is really, really hard for her but she’s doing it. She’s in the regular ed program and going into her freshman year of high school and I’m over the moon excited for her. According to all the statistics she should be a pregnant, junkie, drop out by now and instead she’s a hard-working, world traveling, international school student, hopefully on her way to university. You should adopt a kid. You should encourage everyone you know to adopt a kid. Ask me about it. There are a bunch of rumors out there about adoption that just aren’t true, like it costs thousands of dollars. That’s only through the fancy private agencies. We went through the State and so can you. There’s a kid out there that needs you. Call your Department of Family and Children’s Services Today. It’s fuckin’ hard to be a mom/dad/parent but imagine what it must be like to grow up in the State foster care system. Do you think you can do better than that? Then why not do it? Help someone. Shout out to EK Huckaby for the art on the wall. I should send him an email and say what’s up.