Donna subscribes to an
internet forum on Russian adoption. She is always snooping and
investigating. There was a particular letter that caught her attention. It
spoke of an orphanage in Tikhvin. Tikhvin is a small town northeast of St.
Last year, Donna was
sick, real sick, when we left England for Vladimir. She never left the
hotel while we were in Russia. This year, she behaved a little better. She
waited until we left Vladimir to get sick.
So, there we were in St.
Pete, snowy, cold, looking at a 7-8 hour van ride to Tikhvin. And Donna
was sick, again. We decided Tikhvin was out for her. Vitaly and I would
go, Stephanie would stay and take care of Donna. Bob and Richard would
take a city tour. We had a plan.
Now, the trip to Tikhvin
was an interesting one. The good news, it turned out to be 4 hours. The,
well, not really bad news, once we left St. Pete, the two-lane highway was
mostly marked by tracks in the ice or snow. The farther out we went, the
less asphalt we saw, or drove on.
Vitaly had made a couple
of previous trips to Tikhvin to do some research. Fortunately, they are
pretty well funded. In fact, they are much better funded than any we’ve
been to. They have adequate food and clothing. The director had asked for
water heaters, a room heater for the isolation room, beds, and chairs for
the toddlers to sit at their little tables. Vitaly was able to purchase
the water heaters and room heater on an earlier trip.
An interesting thing
happens in Russia. From January 1, through the 10th, it’s a
workman’s holiday. Retail is open, but supply houses are not. So…no
furniture for now. Vitaly will follow up on that for us. In the meantime,
we took a bunch, and I mean a bunch, of toys. We took dolls, doll buggy,
cars, play kitchen with play foods and accessories, and so forth. There
were, also, some very good quality wooden educational toys for the
All this took the
director, Sergey, a little off guard. I explained Treasures and how Donna
found him. He said he was puzzled as to how we had found him, he was glad
to have the mystery unraveled.
From the looks of
things, it appears Treasures will probably not have sufficient reason for
a long term relationship with Tikhvin. Task finished, Vitaly and I
returned to St. Pete.
Transportation is a real
experience in Russia. Believe it or not, when it’s just the Barlows and
Blackstones, we usually use “gypsy” cabs. Virtually every car in Russia is
a taxi. Some are licensed, some are, well…not.
So far, we’ve done well
hailing taxis and getting around. There was one exception you can read
about on our website.
http://www.treasuresoftheheart.org/dateline.asp Coming back from
Tikhvin, Vitaly and I went to the train station to hire a taxi. It turned
out be just as cheap to get a van, so we opted for the extra space.
The driver wanted 3000
rubles, about $110, up front. I handed Vitaly 3 1000 ruble bills. I told
him to give the driver two now, the other when we get there. Off we went.
About three hours into
the trip, the driver told Vitaly he didn’t know where our hotel was. In
fact, he didn’t know St. Petersburg. Vitaly said he would direct him. When
we got into St. Pete, the driver stopped at the first Metro station
(subway) he saw. He said that was as far as he would go, as he was afraid
he would get lost trying to find his way back out of town. Such is travel