Today we went to Juliana's birth city and got a new birth certificate.
When we got to her city we stopped and asked a young woman at a bus station which way to the government clerk office. She pointed us the way. With her (and all the other young women in this town) we found ourselves wondering - was this the mother of our child? What would her life be like if she had kept her daughter? What would life be like in this town?
The roads leading to the city are horrible. For our friend Andrej in Slovakia who apologized "I am so sorry - the roads here are horrible, horrible" - NO. The roads in Slovakia are NOT horrible. One small pothole does not make the roads "horrible, horrible." Andrej, these videos are for you - here is an example of what "horrible" roads are. The roads look like they have been bombed. To our friends and family who do not believe us when we say the roads are bad - believe these videos.
If we think of it as just a highly dangerous roller coaster ride with lots of obstacles, oncoming traffic, and no safety gear, it helps. To our friends who have not gone this route - you don't know how much bone-rattling fun you are missing.
Unfortunately, our driver asked a taxi driver in town about a better way back to the main city. Apparently that WAS the best route, the other roads were worse.
These people pay very steep taxes for driving (car tax, gasoline taxes, etc.) yet they have precious little to show for it. It makes me very appreciative for the paved roads that our tax dollars support.
They do have a sign posted. "Bumpy Road" is what the pictogram reads. Really? No <!!@@#!?> duh! I am so glad that they thought to tell us this! I might not have figured out from the 100km of jolting jarring that the road was trashed. Thanks!!
When we filled out the paperwork for the new birth certificate, we were told it might be a while. Since our bladders had been given the treatment on the ride over, our translator asked for a restroom (she needed to go also). We were pointed to the hospital a block away. We trooped over to the hospital and found the restrooms.
It was unbelievable. The restrooms: 1) had no toilet paper 2) had no toilet seats 3) were some of the filthiest things we had ever seen (gas station restrooms included) 4) had NO sinks for handwashing 5) didn't flush. To flush the toilets, you had to go scoop a pitcher of water out of a bathtub and pour it into the toilets. Yes, you heard me right. The hospital had no facilities for handwashing in the restroom. Kelly and Violetta saw several nurses use the restroom and leave - but without handwashing because there were no sinks. The hospital was very dimly lit and was overall a fairly dirty place. One woman we passed on the staircase had her dog (unleashed) following behind her. Every clinic, every health center, every hospital, even every veternarian's office I have ever seen in America is far cleaner. Both Kelly and I thought to ourselves "Is this why 'Marlena' died during heart surgery?" As far as we know, it wasn't at this hospital - but to see that this level of poor sanitation could exist in one hospital opens the door in our minds that other hospitals could also be thus. If this is how the normal people are treated - how much worse do is it for people with disabilities?
When we came back, we asked how long it would take to get the birth certificate. This was around 11am. We were told that it might be 3:00p, or it might be later than that (5:00p+). Our translator finally asked if we bribed them if we could get it faster. They agreed (and worked through lunch) and we got the document around 1:30p.
It leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. In America this whole procedure takes 30 minutes, with most of that spent waiting in line. The thought that something like this could conceivable take all day is unbelievable. The thought that we have to bribe a government official to get it done - this is a foreign concept. This should not have to happen.
The poor sanitation in the hospital - the bribing needed to process paperwork - these are examples of blessings we in America have taken for granted. We never knew to be thankful for these things because we never knew anything different.
On our death-defying trip back to the city, we saw something hunched over in the road. We couldn't recognize it. When we got closer - we couldn't believe it.
An old babushka woman was standing in the middle of the road with a hammer and a long chisel. She was chipping a hole in the middle of the road.
To reiterate: on a road that already looked like the Air Force used it for target practice, an elderly woman is standing in the road with a chisel and a hammer making ..... ANOTHER HOLE.
What the <Expletive of Choice!> Apparently she was very upset that this particular 2m of road (out of 100 km) did not have a pothole in it, so she was making one. Words fail me. We wish we had been able to get a picture. Sasha yelled at her through the window "QUIT BREAKING THE ROAD!!!" The absurdity of it had us laughing for a while. Bad Babushka!!
We took the bus from our new flat to the orphanage. We were able to spend about two hours with the girls.
The girls interact with us so much more than they did at our first meeting. We heard Juliana laugh today for the first time. Her ability to hold her head up (that she was making great strides at) when we left her has atrophied considerably. This means that she has not been getting practice sitting up and holding her head upright. We will have to work on this more.
We hope to get Elena's new birth certificate tomorrow. Once we have that, it will speed up things in this town. We may get to take the girls from the orphanage tomorrow, or perhaps Friday. Hopefully our time is drawing to an end.