We decided we had to fly from the region we were in to Kiev in order to be able to connect to our flight to the U.S. because the train would have put us there too late for our flight.
Let me regress a little and tell you about our taxi driver which does tie in with our getting home. We had the greatest taxi driver named Genna taking care of us the whole time we were there. He knew everyone and everything about this town.
We were staying in a hotel which had started getting rather expensive. It didn't have a kitchen so we had to eat out more as well. Sveta had never done an adoption from this region so this was all new to her and she wasn't familiar with what was available for cheap lodging. The apartment that many families stayed in was booked already. We usually ate only one meal a day out, and on a side note everything we had was delicious. Sveta started looking for a cheaper place for us to stay when we return. Our wonderful taxi driver Genna told her he found us a place and did we want to go look at it? A way to save some money, we were very excited about looking at it.
It is hard to describe the apartment buildings in Ukraine where the majority of families live. They are huge cinder block buildings with many stories. In the states they would be described as poverty level residences. There are broken windows that have been boarded up and many are crumbling and in need of repair. They are not uniform, one level may look decent and the next not so much. They are Soviet era and nothing is spent on repair because most people are just trying to make enough to eat.
We drove up to one of these huge high rise buildings and Genna stopped and motioned us out. The sweetest lady came up to us and Sveta told us she has 6 kids and one adopted child. This is unusual in Ukraine both because she has so many kids and especially that one was adopted. They have small families, usually no more than one or two, and wonder why Americans want to adopt and many have large families.
She and another lady took us in this building and I have to say in all of our adoptions I have not ever been in any of these buildings even though they are everywhere. We started up flights of stairs and as we went I was looking and thinking, oh my, I don't know if we can stay here. Later I would realize God is always finding a way to humble us and I am so thankful for it.
As we wind our way up, there are broken windows on the landings and rusted wires running everywhere. I have about decided we can not stay here when we arrive at the apartment.
These two women were so proud when they took us inside. We found ourselves inside a spotless, very cozy apartment, but it was the apartment one of these women lives in! She said she would rent it to us for $150.00 a month! They are leaving and will let us stay there. They pointed out they don't have air conditioning but they internet and a computer. There is a very small clean kitchen and it has two bedrooms one for Mark and I and one for Sveta. We decided this would be a wonderful opportunity for us to live as the Ukrainians do and to get to know them and the culture of our children even better. We now view this as a blessing and I am really excited about it.
After we left we are going to drive the hour and a half to the airport to catch our flight to Kiev. On the way there the taxi starts having problems and we stop while the driver jumps out and fixes the taxi right there on the road. Then he stops to get gas but lets us out at this little rusted looking bomb shelter. He doesn't want us in the car because they use propane and I guess they worry about the car blowing up while they are gassing up. It is just amazing to me the way they take these inconveniences in stride.
We finally arrived at the small airport and got out. After we check in we look out and see our taxi driver pushing his car and trying to jump in it at the same time to start it. Mark goes out to help him. Mark pushes it and the driver jumped in and away he flew.
After waiting an hour we went through security check. It was so hot and the flies were landing all over us I couldn't wait to get on the plane. Then this man comes out and says the plane is leaving and isn't taking any of the passengers. Don't ask I have no idea. So it takes off empty no reason and no explanation. People were asking if there was going to be another flight because now it is 8pm. They went and got some lady to tell us in English what was going on. Then a man comes in and says no more flights tonight and maybe not one tomorrow. Now they just close up office and all these people are stranded and there was no concern from the airline about what any of us was going to do about getting out of there.
We had a flight to the U.S. in the morning and we couldn't miss it. Mark had to be back home because he has a test on Friday to renew his landing currency and if he missed that it means he can't fly which means we don't get a paycheck. So needless to say we were under major stress wondering if we could get a train or if we could even re-book our flight to the states the next day to get home by Friday. Mark had us going back a day early just in case of an emergency and here it was the emergency, good thinking on his part he doesn't trust the system we have seen too much to know anything can go wrong and it usually does. We tried gettinga train that would get us back in time for our flight but there weren't any.
We called Sveta and she called Genna our taxi driver. He said he would come get us and drive us to Kiev. Now folks we are talking a 9 hour taxi drive and we had just seen how well that taxi was running. Plus Genna was going to take an hour and a half getting back to to us and our plane left at 6:30 in the morning.
Sveta calls me back and says Genna was thinking he wouldn't be able to get us there in time. He contacted a friend of his in the town we are in and says he will drive us to Kiev because we can leave right then. Ten minutes later a car screeches in in a cloud of dust with a driver who hasn't even lost his baby fat. The car actually looked better than most of the taxis we had been in but the driver had me worried. I wanted to ask if he was old enough to have a drivers permit.
He flies out of the parking lot with us bouncing around inside like beans. I put my face in my pillow and prayed, dear God let me see my children again. I asked him if I could put on the seat belt and he says, "no work!" He grins and says, "do not worry" as we screech out.
Now some of you know what I mean when I say the driving is something else. They drive fast, very fast, they pass in any situation on bridges, curves and they honk horns all the time. They get a foot behind another vehicle and then pass sometimes with 3 cars in two lanes.
I think I went into petrified mode I was speechless and Mark kept saying, "honey just don't watch!" Then he shut his eyes and went to sleep. Now I am not a person who even likes taking aspirin but when I travel I do take these little benadryl pills to help you sleep. I really hadn't had to use them much, but at this point I popped two and thought about how many I could take to make me unconscious. I knew with definite certainly it was all in God's hands.
There we were in the middle of the night winging our way toward Kiev at speeds of 100 mph on roads that have more pot holes than smooth places. I looked over at one point and Mark's head was bouncing so hard on the seat back I wasn't sure it was still hooked to his neck. How he could sleep through this is unreal!
Suddenly it started pouring down rain the driver stopped because the windshield wipers weren't working so he tried to manually start them. When that didn't work he shook his head jumped back in the car and drove even faster so the rain would blow off the windshield and he could see better. I thought no one would believe this I can't believe it and I am living it!
We sped through the night and finally it started breaking dawn and I knew it was going to be tight for us to make our flight. About a half an hour from the airport the car started shaking and sputtering along with my husband who was about to lose it if we didn't make that flight. We actually slowed down to a normal speed and that was a relief, but then we were worried the car was going to die before we got there. We finally pulled into the airport at 6:05 for an international flight that was leaving at 6:30. We jumped out and ran as fast as we could to the counter. We were so out of breath we could barely speak and the lady says that flight gate has been closed. I looked at her with a wild eyed look, drool on my chin and hair sticking out at every angle and I think she saw that she was going to have major meltdown right before her eyes, she didn't know if I was going to faint or lose it. I screamed, "we have just been on a 9 hour taxi ride (wanted to add it was a taxi ride from you know where and we weren't going to be deterred by the fact the plane was leaving in 20 min) please, please, please, get us on that flight!!!" Well, that lady got on that phone and made a call and soon someone swooped in and literally ran us through security and the whole bit and they held the bus until we got on it to go out to the plane. One look at me and I think they just wanted to make sure I was out of their country.
Then we flew to Paris had several hours of layover and finally was on our way home. I had been in the same clothes for two days and I felt sorry for the people who had to sit by us on any of the flights. Mark and I parted company in Atlanta he had to fly to Memphis for his test and I came on home to Texas.
Our fabulous children met me and they had roses for me and the girls ran into my arms.
Life is good and now I need to take the girls to water color camp. Mom is home and as happy as the girls are, the boys are even more so. Brett went home last night to sleep in his own apartment. That is until he has to return when we begin our next adventure on our trip back to Ukraine.