First, apologies, but no photos today.  Had I known we would be travelling 200 km to Svatova, in the northernmost region of Lugansk province, I would have brought the camera, and maybe some food and a bottle of water for the day long trip as well.  But no, our facilitator has a great sense of humor and likes to surpise us at the last minute.

Today we finally got the formal court decision granting us custody.  This allowed us to obtain Matan’s birth certificate, have it put into our names, and will also allow us to get a Ukrainian passport for him so we can leave the country.  But one step at a time.  We understood that today, the facilitator would only need DH to go thru some formalities at the notary, and some other local offices.  We called at 9:30 to find out what time to be ready.  The faciliator was hysterical, “the hospital blew up in a huge explosion.  The 5th floor collapsed on the 4th floor and we are stuck in endless traffic as ambulances are taking the dead and injured away”.  Away to where, one might ask, since that is the only hospital within a reasonable distance…..But anyway….20 minutes later, she calls, tells us that she will pick us up in 10 minutes, and that we both need to come.  Originally, she told us that today, she would need only one of us.  This meant, dress, get ready, and get Karen ready.  Ok, we can that. 

12 minutes later, we are downstairs and getting into the car.  Only once I see we are driving in the opposite direction from the notary, do I innocently ask, “where are we going?”  The reply, “oh, we must travel 200 km to Svatova to get Matan’s birth cerificate”. Oh.  Thanks.  I really would have liked to pack a lunch, water, and something for Karen to do during an 8 hour journey, round trip.  Why 8 hours?  Because the roads are frozen.  They are bad to begin with, with only a single lane in each direction (on the better parts), but with the heavy snow storms and -12 C temps, the authorities advised against all but absolutely necessary travel on roads running between cities.  The bright side of this meant that there were few other private cars on the road.  The not so bright side was that we shared the highway (I use the term loosely), with trucks, both commercial and military.  The few private cars played chicken to overtake the lumbering giants – as did we.

I’m glad we were all in the back seat, even if it was crowded in the tiny Chinese or N. Korean tin can we were riding in.  The suicide seat got the best view of oncoming behemoths and the other tin cans crazily trying to overtake. 

Luckily, the facilitator and translator both smoke like crazy, so we were at least able to stop once for a bathroom break (behind a shed), and to buy coffee, water and chips.   We got to the city, got the papers after about an hour wait, as it was apparently a holiday, and the office we needed was officially closed.  You gotta wonder why every single office we need, is always closed for some holiday on the day we go for papers in this Land of the Lost.

Life is good.  We are now back in our warm apartment and DH is making us a nice dinner.  Karen just wants a hot bath, hot chocolate, and the laptop so she can play Tarzan on it.  The poor kid’s become an addict over the past month.