Vera and Medet picked me up around 10 a.m. and we then picked up Laura and Steve, who were in Taraz adopting a little girl. Then, off to Umit! When we got to Umit I went to the Director's office while someone was dispatched to get Alex. Miriamgul had one of the Mexican 'telenovelas' (soap operas) on FULL BLAST the whole time I was in her office. The Kazakhs dig the Western hemisphere--loudly! Alex was brought in and I don't know if he recognized me at first. We stayed for about an hour, walking around the grounds and talking with Steve and Laura. We caused a stir amongst the caregivers since they didn't think Alex was warm enough in the 75 degree weather. I had brought an outfit of long sleeve shirt, long pants, socks and hooded jacket. However the pants kept riding up and the socks kept slipping down, which exposed his calves to the elements (i.e., the sunshine and warm weather). They were sure he was going to catch the flu, I think. As we left Vera took some photos and movies of us walking out of the Umit gates. We went to dinner with Steve and Laura that night at King David, a Jewish restaurant.
A few hours later Alex and I were on the train back to Almaty. Vera, Medet and Slava's entire family (including granny!) were at the train station to see us off. More than one woman at the train station admonished me for not having Alex dressed warmly enough. They must have thought I had a deathwish, being in a sleeveless shirt. Alex did great on the train.
Our flight to Frankfurt arrived early, and I wasn't sure if my mom had received the email that I would be coming early. Turned out, Jim had called Renate on her cell phone the previous afternoon as she and mom were strolling through Frankfurt. So about 15 minutes after I got out of German customs (they tried to stop me as I was coming out of the baggage area but I pretended I was French so I wouldn't have to go through formal immigration) mom & Renate appeared. I have never so happy to see two people in my life! We got to Renate's and I caught up on sleep by taking 2 naps, 3-4 hours each. The next day we took a Rhine River cruise (may as well live it up while we're here) and this morning we are on the way to the airport in a few hours. Alex has definitely been living it up--what could be better than having TWO grandmothers looking after you for a few days?! More later, from the USA!!!