We finally setteled in arriving last evening (Thursday) around 7pm. So although the post says 9/18, it's really the 19th...I'm pretty sure. It's cold here with highs in the 40's and 20's overnight. We are now at the "cottage", a three bedroom, two story place that we are sharing with another adoptive family. The 4 hour ride from Astana to Kokshetau was long, especially after not having much sleep in the previous 48 hours. The countryside here reminds me mostly of the midwest, without the farms. There are rolling hills and wide open countryside that seem to go on forever. We passed through a few small villages and two gas stations but for the most part there is nothing but open space for the almost 400km we traveled between the two cities. There is lots of road construction going on to improve and widen what is here now. The main road we took here consists of some new sections, some old, and sometimes there is neither. Just an unfinished new section that requires you to veer off to the side onto a dirt "road" until you reach another paved section.
The driving here is reminiscent of Chicago taxi drivers. The roads may or may not have lines defining lanes but in any case, there is always the option of creating your own, which is a frequent occurence. Even on the "highway" if the car in front of you isn't moving fast enough for your liking, just go around, apparently it's ok to take your half of the oncoming traffic lane, even with traffic coming! However, the oncoming traffic doesn't seem to mind since they tend to stay on their half of the lane.
Looking forward to our meeting with the Department of Education Director (they oversee the baby houses) and our subsequent visit to the baby house!