Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Wait is Over. Now the story of the night that the lights went out in Almaty.

OK, OK, I know that I have left you all hanging. I am sorry about that. Here is what happened.

It was Wednesday night at 9pm. We were scheduled for our driver to pick us up at midnight with our plane planning to leave at 2 am. We had spent the day doing some sightseeing around Almaty. We were mostly packed up and just hanging out in the room waiting to go home. At around 9pm, the lights went out in our room. We go out into the hallway and the lights are on out there. We call down to the front desk and they inform us that the entire hotel is out. After looking out the window, we realized that most of the city appeared to be in the dark. Street lights were out so cars were honking their horns as they tried to travel through the intersections. We had no idea what could have caused such a drastic power outage. The other family traveling with us came out into the hall and we discussed our options. Our biggest concern was that there was not any power at the airport and we would not be able to go home. We all wanted to go home very badly at this point. After making a few calls, we were able to get in touch with our coordinator and he informed us that the airport had power. Yeah.....we all said a prayer of thanks. We can get home.

We had a couple of hurdles before we could get home. I forgot to mention that our rooms were on the 17th floor and the elevators were not working. So if we were going to leave, we had to get downstairs with all of our luggage. Between the three of us, we each had a backpack and a large suitcase. We had a total of three large suitcases filled to capacity, three backpacks, a large duffel bag, and the sacred bag of souvenirs.

Our next hurdle was how were we going to check out of the hotel. We had called down and asked them if they had a way to check us out. They said that we would need to wait until the power came back on. They told us it would only be a little while until the power came back on.

So, both us and the other family were sitting in the hallway where the lights were on. We had succeeded in packing up the remainder of our stuff with the use of the flashlights that I had brought. My father loves flashlights and he has always said how important it is to have a flashlight with you. I keep a little pin light in my purse at all times. My parents had given me a flashlight to pack in our luggage. I am so glad that we had it. It was used by us as well as the other family. Thanks Mom and Dad for the flashlights.

We were sitting in the hallway trying to determine how long the power could possibly be out and at what point that we should begin our journey down the stairs. We decided at 10 to begin the trek down the stairs. There were two set of stairs. Each family took a different set of stairs.

We began our journey each with our backpack on; Madalyn had the large duffle and sacred bag of souviners; Brian had both of the large suitcases; and I had the other large bag. We were doing pretty good as we went down floor after floor. We made it to the 10th floor when we encountered a waiter who had been delivering food to someone on that floor. He had pity on us and took the suitcase from me and eventually also took the duffle bag from Madalyn. He was so gracious to help us. Since he did that, Brian and I were able to each have a large suitcase. Slowly we made it down the stairs. When we got to the lobby, the waiter ran off to do his other job seemingly without a thought for the help that he gave us. I tracked him down and gave him some money for his assistance. As it turned out, we made it down before the other family.
One hurdle down.

The other concern was how were we going to check out. The power was still out when 11:30 came around. I had told Brian that I would get us out of the here just by flashing some of our crisp one hundred dollar bills. Our coordinator arrives and talks to the hotel staff. They calculated what our bill was and we were able to pay cash to check out. The other family was planning on using their credit card and with the power out that was not possible. I was able to give them the cash to check out as well.

So, despite our challenging tasks, we checked out and headed to the airport.

We found out later that there was a major incident at a power plant in a neighboring country who shares power with Kazakhstan which caused most of the city without power. The power was restored around 2am when we were safely abroad a plane to Frankfurt.

I hope that the story was worth the wait.


  1. What a great story & now that you have lived thru it I am sure it will be one of many favorite memories of Kaz.

    I hope your waiting period goes by quickly!!!!

  2. Good Determination:) 17th floor? Wow.

    Welcome home and Congratulations!