Saturday, February 28, 2009

Who Would Have Thought 2/27/09

Who Would Have Thought 

Who would have thought that Cindy and I would be walking home (to our hotel) in the snow after a visit to the state museum in Almaty Kazakhstan? We have had many unanticipated experiences in the past few years, but this was way under our radar. Incidentally, the name was originally Alma-Ata that means “Father of the Apple”. In remote forests of Kazakhstan botanists believe the first apple trees took root. They also have a lot of wild tulips and claim to be its origin.

Almaty (əlmä`tē), formerly Alma-Ata (ăl'mə-ətä`), city (1993 pop. 1,176,000), is the capital of Almaty province, Kazakhstan, in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau range. A terminus of the Turkistan-Siberia RR, Almaty is the industrial and cultural center of Kazakhstan and was for many years its capital; moved in 1997 to Astana (ästä`nä).

Almaty lies on the site of an ancient Silk Route settlement, which was sacked by the Mongols. The town was founded in 1854 as a military fortress and trading centre and was used as a place of exile by the Tsarist regime in the late 19th century. It was destroyed by earthquakes in 1887 and 1911, and was made the regional capital in 1928. The city underwent great expansion during World War II, as factories from west of the Urals were relocated here to safeguard them from Nazi invasion forces.

With our visit here we will renew our Russian visas and get another 90 days residency in our mission. I am looking forward to getting back to the mission office and get in touch with what’s going on there. I am confident that Elder Olson, my missionary assistant, has done all that was necessary to keep the mission solvent. He’s a great support to me.

Today we visited the largest Renik that I have every seen. They tell me that it stretches 6 kilometers along a road in western Almaty. The traffic there indicates that business is strong and I expect sales are good. We bought a couple of ties from a man who claimed that he sells 1000 a day. We didn’t find many bargains in the fur hats we sought, but we did get some small things including a two-string traditional instrument called a Dombra.

While returning home we experienced some unexpected things. First, in Novosibirsk you would never expect to see the smiles and conversations that where endemic on our bus trip. Second, the money collector in Novo sits in her personal chair or roaming the car gruffly collecting money from those getting on. On our bus, he announced each stop, called-out the bus’ destination to those waiting, answered questions, helped people get on and off, and collected money only as people disembarked; a friendly and efficient atmosphere.

An added bonus came when about twenty teen-age students got on the bus and three of them noticed my Dobra and recognized our English. Several were music students and offered to tune and play my instrument. They stayed on for only a short time, but we got a short concert and made new friends.

While visiting the state museum we noticed that vendors were setting up their wares in the halls and balconies. As we left the last exhibit, we met a young man selling scarves and handbags made by his mother. They were from Uzbekistan. Here Cindy poses with him and her new bag. On the lower level, Cindy bought some silk scarves and I got a painting in keeping with our plan to get a painting from every city we visit.

Tomorrow we will get a ride to the mountains from a counselor in the Branch who will take us finally to the tram that will lead to the place were Kazakhstan was dedicated by Elder Nelson for the preaching of the Gospel. It should be a fun and informative day.

What a nice country.

1 comment:

Trisha said...

Sounds as if you are back in the saddle again. I am so glad all is well. Yes we are a family of miracles. That is the best. Take a few pictures of you Dad. Glad all is well.