Jumping back a few days to fill in a little backstory...
On Monday of last week our favorite driver, Eugene, picked James and I up to take us to our referral interview with the government agency that governs adoption here. There was some uncertainty as to what time our appointment was so they wanted us to be there at 9:00 just in case. We got there quite early and once they opened we found out our appointment wasn't until 2:00! Eugene ran us back to our apartment to pick Beth and Henry up
and he took us on a tour of the city! On the way to pick them up he stopped at the post office to have copies made of our dossier. When he ran into the post office with the dossier in hand and came back to the car without it I had a mini-heart attack! Those papers are made from my sweat and tears and cannot be replaced!! Thankfully they were just fine when he picked them up later, of course :-)
This photo and the ones above and below were taken from an area that is known to be oldest part of the city. There are so many beautiful buildings here. In this area is now a large museum and cultural center which we toured.
Before we had walked very far we stopped for a small lunch at an outdoor restaurant. Eugene helped us order - we all tried Vareneki (boiled pastry filled with potato or cabbage or meat or some combination of those- sometimes with cherries or plums instead for dessert.) It was yummy topped with dill and sour cream. Henry had toast with cheese and ketchup (yes, it was on the menu!)
The rock above and below has writing on it that I believe proves that the Russian language and other similar languages such as Ukranian, orginally stem from the ancient Slavic languages.
Not having fun, Henry? This was his opinion of the tour!
The idols above were found all over the countryside here. There are many of them on display around the building. When Christianity was introduced here many of the idols were thrown into the large beautiful river that runs through the area. The story goes that many people drowned trying to retreive their idols from the deep water.
This church is in the process of a major restoration. It is right across from the government offices where we had our appointment.
These doggies were also right outside the office building. There are lots of stray dogs here. They tend to lay anywhere. We've seen them sleeping in potholes in the middle of the road! A few days ago we saw 4 dogs sleeping the middle of a median in a traffic circle.