Friday, February 23, 2007

The Farewell to Astana Blog (or is it?)

This will be my final blog entry from Astana, just to let you know. Maybe not my final forever final entry but for the five month adventure, this is it. I woke up this morning at 5:30 to the sound of wind and a wall of white outside. NO! I thought, Even Mother Nature wants to keep me here!! Not another f-ing blizzard. Blizzard=no flying today, but as the morning light appeared over the city, the winds died down and the snow stopped.
Whew! I guess I’ll be leaving after all. Gena met me at 7:30 and I dragged all my bags down to his car for our last ride together to the airport. We gabbed along the way about this and that, in between gaps of silence. At the airport he helped me drag my two big bags inside and at last it was time to say goodbye. His eyes were a bit teary as we hugged again and again goodbye. I thanked him for everything and told him tomorrow morning I’ll miss him. We hugged again and then I went through security. He was waiting to make sure I got through OK. I turned and waved a final goodbye and proceeded up the escalator. Through the massive glass front of the airport I could see Gena walking to his eggplant coloured Mercedes, slowly.
How funny that of all the people I met here the one I feel the closest too is a 47 yr old taxi driver. He was part of my everyday life, now I must live without him. Goodbyes are never easy but they aren’t forever. I’m more of a “Til we meet again” kind of guy.

Last night I took my colleagues Irina and Kulyash out for dinner at Eden, a fancy European styled restaurant. It wasn’t hideously expensive and the food was great. We ordered a bottle of Chilean wine which was an oasis in this desert of crude wines. Our waiter was really funny, very over the top in his presentation, trying hard to be as Western European as possible. It was a little too much to the point of funny. How he described the wine as he poured it was like reciting poetry. And how he talked me into having the side dish of cauliflower, the description, the intensity of his voice when telling me about the curry sauce and the crunchiness of each little piece, the cauliflower industry should make him their spokesperson. During dinner we thought up plans for the future, ways to get me back here and stay forever (oh dear). Maybe something will come of it, who knows. On the quiet, midnight streets of Astana, I said goodbye to my two colleagues. Kulyash marched purposely home one way, Irina scurried off down Prospekt Pobedy in her long, to-the-floor coat, like a toy on wheels that can’t be seen.

It’s done. I can leave. I’ve said goodbye to everyone, received oodles of souvenirs, some nice, some not so nice, left a clean apartment. Now I wait in the airport, a two hour delay for my flight, surrounded by big bags and other people waiting for their flight to Almaty. From Almaty, I get on a marshrutka (shuttle bus) and head to Bishkek for 5 days of fun with friends and a visit to Kashka Suu, my summer home 45 mins from Bishkek up in the mountains. The wind is still blowing but not as hard, the snow has stopped and hopefully we can be on our way soon. Miraculously there’s wireless internet here and so the two hours should pass rather quickly, that is if my battery lasts. Farewell Astana and to all your crazy ways. Til we meet again!

LATER THAT DAY: Well it looks like the fates have me in their clutches here in Astana for one more day (or maybe the whole weekend God forbid!). After 5 hours in the airport with wind and snow delaying flights hour after hour, I looked outside at near zero visibility, changed my ticket until tomorrow morning, called Gena and went back to my apartment. I guess if I don’t fly out tomorrow, then it’s fate, I must stay here. God help me no! Maybe there is meaning in all of this snowstorm. Who knows. We’ll see what happens tonight and tomorrow. After all the goodbyes and pleading to stay maybe I have to stay for one more day, or two or three. Who knows. So my farewell address to you dear readers was a bit premature. Let’s see what fate and Mother Nature has in store for Toomey. Read on…

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