"Watch where I go," she said over her shoulder already three strides ahead of us. We galloped after our facilitator like ponies, trying not to giggle at our inability to keep up with her pace. It was her way of saying, "I'm going ahead. If you can't keep up, watch which doorway I turn into so you can find me when you get there." Our time frame was tight as we dashed blocks to the passport office, hoping to get there before the doors closed for the evening. Kristina and I held hands in the little sprint across town, our chests aching from breathing the cold night air so deeply. We saw Natasha duck into a doorway that quickly darkened as the door closed behind her and followed closely for fear of losing her. When we passed through the door, the walls were lined with people who had been there for hours waiting for paperwork to be processed. Natasha signaled to me to come into a room with her. I stood a pace behind her quietly and obediently waiting to sign another document or form that promised to get us one step closer to home. She sighed heavily and said, "That is all for tonight. We are done." It had been an exhausting day that had started in the birth certificate office with the little girl in red and ended here. We returned to our apartment believing we were done for the day and had just finished the last blog post when our facilitator called us back to the paper chase for the rest of the afternoon.
This morning we trotted behind our facilitator with the much coveted birth certificate from yesterday (the one we spent hours waiting on) to the Tax ID office. We presented the birth certificate to the clerk only to have her turn it over and over in her hands and return it to a bewildered Natasha. The clerk then started a long monologue in which I heard the word "nyet" as I watched my facilitator's color rise in her cheeks. I followed her back into the hallway to learn the clerk at the birth certificate office had placed the wrong stamp on the document. It would have to be completely redone. Thus is the process in Ukraine.
Natasha mumbled in frustrated Russian as she dialed a taxi and I was thankful for the language barrier. I didn't envy the woman at the birth certificate office that would have to deal with our Natasha. I swear I could never do this job. Natasha is a determined woman of steel. If it can be done, she'll figure out a way to do it. Back at the birth certificate office, Natasha had a polite conversation with the woman who had done our forms yesterday and within 30 minutes we had the correct document in hand. She is amazing. Back to the Tax ID office and then off to copy, notarize, scan, and email documents before she sent us off for lunch after 2. She headed in the opposite direction with another office to visit for more paperwork. She was still going after 6pm tonight. Kristina and I strolled down to the waterfront tonight. The lamplights washed the Opera House in gold and gilded the cobblestone walkway. The promenade was draped in strings of brilliant jeweled colors. The cold eventually got the best of us and we headed off in search of hot chocolate.
We should know tomorrow afternoon if we are leaving for Kiev on the night train or if we are spending the weekend in Odessa. Courtney, I am having problems posting comments on many of the blogs I read so count us in for dinner next week if we're still in Kiev. My cell number here in Ukraine is 80987320547.
I am taking comfort in the thought that perhaps next weekend we will all be squeezed into the same pew at St Paul's enjoying worship together as a family, sitting at the table to share Robert's breakfast cooking, or watching Kristina attempt to remember how to ride that bike. In the grand scheme of things, a week isn't a long time, but we'd rather it be sooner than later.