Day Seven (Friday March 18) By Tony

March 18, 2011 By Tony

Our apartment here in Nikopol is actually the residence of a history teacher who simply has vacated her apartment for our use. I assume she is staying with a friend somewhere. The nightly rent probably equates to what she pays a month, so it is worth it for her to go through some inconvenience. Conditions are Spartan but warm and dry. We are in a complex of a number of about five story apartment buildings leftover from the Soviet area which serve as grim reminders of the misery that regime caused among so many people. Despite the lack of material goods, the people are generally gracious and seem to be happy.

We drove with Victor and our driver to the town were the inspector is to do some more paperwork. We met with the children who were brought into town to have a medical examination at the hospital. The facilities were very old and things were basically falling apart without any attempt to remodel any of it. However, what they did have was relatively neat and tidy. One thing that is noticable almost everywhere one goes is the lack of light indoors. It feels like every inside light is a 20 watt bulb and even then people are reluctant to use them.

Our car turned out to be a Mercedes stretch limosine which was a huge hit with Xenia, Luba, and Yuri along with the rest of the orphanage kids who all came to check out the new car. Yulia had more paper work to take care of for the kids. However, for some reason she did not have the “official stamp” to put on the papers so we had to wait for a bit for that to arrive. The kids played cup stacking and we even played some soccer up on the field for a bit. I’m not sure if the stamp ever arrived but Victor eventually came out and said that we could leave. We went back to the town of the inspector and dropped some of the papers off at the home of the inspector so she could work on them over the weekend. I don’t think you would ever get any beauracrat in the U.S. to ever offer to do something like that. I thought it was pretty cool that she would be interested enough to take the extra time over the weekend to do that.

Dinner was at a diner in the town of the inspector. We had some cabbage salad(essentially cole slaw) and some chicken and rice. Relatively inexpensive compared to the states. The highlight of dinner was at the end when Gabe just had to go to the bathroom. There is not bathroom in here you have to go outside. Outside means essentially an outhouse without anything to sit on just a hole in the ground. Gabe thought that was pretty cool in that this was finally a toilet that he wouldn’t be able to clog up!

A bumpy ride home brought us back to our apartment around seven p.m. Things appear to be going well and we do not know of any big snags that we have encountered so far. The boys have been great with the other kids at the orphanage and we hope it will be a positive experience for them.

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