Archive for January 7, 2009

“It’s Ending Up Looking a Lot Like Orthodox Christmas”

p1070023p1060013p1060017p1060021p1070022p1070026p1070027p1070029p1070030p1070034p1070031p10600201January 7th is a holiday for Orthodox believers and in Almaty it was no exception. No cars on the street once my driver picked me up from the airport after three uneventful flights from port to port which ended up taking about 29 hours instead of the usual 24.  No matter, I was happy to be home to temperatures about 50 degrees warmer than in northwest Minnesota where they suffered 20 below zero F, not counting the windchill. 

Once my suitcases were disgorged, I walked in the sun yesterday and thought what great snowman weather this was. The pure white snow was sticky enough to form into a ball right away.  Upon my return to my flat, I noticed a decapitated head of a snowman in our playground area.  The unmistakeable carrot nose and button eyes looked glazed over and like this snowman had met his sad fate earlier in the day. 

I love our balcony view to the mountains where you can see a closeup of small icicles on a clothesline that are fringing every house or corrugated roof in Almaty with the winter melt yesterday.  Even some rusty icicles show up if the tin on the roof has had too much moisture.  All big icicles can be potential killers if you walk under them when they fall from five stories high. So walkers are wary of getting too close to buildings.  A lady was feeding the pigeons below and you can see an errant green Heiniken beer bottle planted carefully in the snow.

I never can get over how those who drink open bottle on Almaty’s sidewalks will place glass bottles out for those who make a living collecting them.  I don’t think anyone picks up the castoff plastic bottles as they are carelessly strewn all over as well.  So, with the white blanket of snow, it was a pretty walk for me yesterday through our park.  Then off to my place of employment where there is a welcoming sign to the students that reads “S’novem Godem” which means “Happy New Year.”  Tomorrow the holiday season is over and the work begins for spring semester of 2009! 

Oh, you can tell the President is in town, look for the two guards standing at the gate to the Presidential palace, the four of these men at the two gated driveways don’t move a muscle until there is the “changing of the guard.”  Yes, Almaty was moving rather fluidly from the housetop roofs to the ground below with the icicles forming and snow thawing out.  Changing of the guard from snow to ice, walkers beware!

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