adios Atyrau

October 22, 2011

Dear family and friends,

Hope all is well. Happy Weekend! I’m sitting here in the hotel in Almaty, happy to be here. Upon arriving it was a nice relief to see things growing (like grass and trees) as nothing grows in Atyrau. It’s certainly a depressing place. I spoke to an English guy at a bar that had been here for 20 years. Yikes. There’s really nothing to do there, and even walking around isn’t fun as there’s nothing to see (except the Ural River), it’s pretty dangerous to walk around alone especially as a single woman that quite obviously is not from the area (I didn’t even pass for a Russian native), and the air quality is pretty poor. Most people I walked by gave me really weird looks.

I apologize for not writing for the past few days, my internet in the hotel in Atyrau stopped working. I also apologize for no pictures in this post- for some reason the internet here doesn’t really like WordPress and won’t allow any uploads. That would make the blog much more interesting so I’ll try to find a way to add some pictures soon.

Yesterday and the day before, I worked hard and didn’t play that hard. On Thursday night, I found an unexpectedly Awesome pizzeria in the downstairs of my hotel. On Friday afternoon, I went to a bar called “Guns and Roses” where a lot of the Expats hang out. There, I drank wine and hung out with some Dutch people.

This morning, I took a flight to Almaty, the city I’m in now. On the flight, there was a Turkish family with two little kids, one six and the other three. They are from Atyrau and were going to Almaty for vacation. The six year old was learning English in school so we were able to speak a little bit! For most of the flight, I played Trains (the little boy had thomas the tank engine toy) with these kids. We got a little roudy. Turns out I am Awesome at playing trains.

Before the flight, I met a guy from California that lives in Almaty and he helped me to get on the right flight (it was fairly unclear to me in the airport.) Once we got off the flight, we exchanged business cards and he emailed me soon after with Tons of things to do in Almaty. I’ll be doing some of these things (going to a cool park, a WWII memorial flame, a chocolate market where you have to be careful of your purse, a cable car…)

I got a taxi to my hotel (the taxis here seem to be a little less crazy than the ones in Atyrau) and after I did my routine of unpacking and showering, I did some Serious wandering around the city. Almaty is a beautiful city. It’s right next to the Tian Shan mountain range, which is visible from the city and creates a Beautiful backdrop. Pictures to come, of course. I stopped at a café to have some wine, and kept walking until it got dark out. After dark, I decided to get some traditional Kazakh food.

The Kazakh food was pretty gross. I’m not really sure what I ate. Some meat dumplings I think it was beef. I hope it does not make me sick because it was Certainly Not worth it. I played with some other little kids while eating, and I’m not sure the parents liked how we were playing because they gave me nasty looks.
Tomorrow, Sunday, is a fun off ay I’m going up into the mountains to see what I can do. Maybe go skiing, maybe go horseback riding, maybe go on a hike. We’ll see! I’ll definitely be safe about it.

Love,
Annie

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