The last days of my Peace Corps service are rapidly passing. I am a little overwhelmed and extremely grateful for all the people I've met, the things I've learned and the time that I had here. I have a few days to clean, pack, wrap up, give away, reminisce, and plan the next steps in my journey home.
In order to give you a balanced look at what I'm taking away with me, here's a list of things I'll miss and things I won't. Since we always remember the first and last things we hear, I'll save the best for last.
Things I won't miss: Going to the post office (always an ordeal), cockroaches cockroaches and cockroaches in the shower (it was really quite a pleasure to drown those!), fleas, hungry homeless animals, gray, peeling bloc apartments, handwashing my clothes, being encouraged to overeat and overdrink, everyday apathy, my stove, not being able to contact family or get paperwork to the US, dodging puddles, holes in the street, sheets of ice, arguing with teenagers, corruption on the local level, being told what to do by nosy babas, train travel, excessive chalga, macho dudes in tiny t-shirts, the burn of rakia.
Things I will miss: Svetla's laugh, fresh cherries from the tree, joking with students, going na gosti to Elena and Emil's apartment, Elitsa's and Milka's voices, positive reinforcement for a good attitude, "Bastoons", volunteers who understand everything I've experienced, riding with Nancy and Slavi in the bread truck, surviving the ride from Sunny Beach with Stella's support, sharing tales and advice with my sisters, the mountains, the sea, brutal volleyball tournaments that shame the volunteers, the baseball boys and their (sometimes overboard) honesty, the way the sun sets on my terrace, sharing music, dancing (playing) horo, being challenged by Jason, tea with the ladies, Fornetti, Tutku, spinach banitsa, Targovishte wine, stopping and talking on the street, Fani's inflections in Turkish, milk with instant coffee, 3v1, having real discussions and being surprised by the points that my students bring up, learning how little I know, successful home repairs, Bulgarian slang, being well connected in town, knowing that I can always ask for help, my English ladies who make me laugh so much!, hospitality hospitality hospitality, English t-shirts that make absolutely no sense, the Americans who have chosen to make Bulgaria their home, stepping into the bathroom and already being in the shower, Galya's style, Sevgyul's bright greeting each day, Maria's sense of adventure, tiny toy animals that punch or fall down, the weird stuff that David and Rob send me, seeing the US through other people's eyes, random usage of Turkish in town, our "company", purple leopard print, broken conversations at the school for the deaf, Razgrad where everything is just better, life improvers-Shaun, Kari, Radka, Sonia, seeing goats on a daily basis, strong women who carry the world on their shoulders and can manage anything, being told what to do by nosy babas, being encouraged to overeat and overdrink, train travel, excessive chalga, macho dudes in tiny t-shirts, the burn of rakia.
This is just a short list. I'm sure that when I'm back in the US I'll be going on and on and on about my experience here...you've been warned and I'll try to dial it down. Here are some pictures of the ball, and since I "graduate" at the same time as my students, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, WOOOO!!!!!