Thursday, June 26, 2008

E Taka...

Hi all!
Sorry I haven't written again in oh, say over a month, but I just went
through the transition from training to site, so now I live on the
other side of Bulgaria in a medium town just waiting to get to know
people. My apartment is roomy (plenty of room for me, my landlady who
occasionally stays there, the mold in the kitchen and the couple of
cockroaches that live with us) in a great location-just across the
street from the police station! Other highlights are the picture of
Abba in my closet and the beautiful view of town (if you look just to
the left and right of the apartment next door).

Seriously though, I know that I will like it here. I've made friends
with the teachers at my school and I inherited some of the
contacts/friends of the previous volunteer. I will have to get his
baseball team up and running again, but so far so good. Many people
know me already because I was interviewed on the day of our swearing
in ceremony (speaking in Bulgarian-eek!) and it made the Bulgarian
national news. Everyone in my town perked up when they heard that I
was coming here.

Luckily before I left, I had the chance to visit a few more amazing
mountains on that side of the state and see the Rila Monastery, which
is the largest, most beautiful monastery in the country. I also
visited the waterfall in a nearby village where some volunteers were
staying and had time to learn to cook some important Bulgarian dishes
before leaving. When I tried to cook since coming here I've only
kinda burned things a little and managed to make some of the things my
baba made with much more experience and skill. I have begun tutoring
and I realized (although I tested above the required level) that my
Bulgarian could still use quite a bit of work. I will keep you posted
as more exciting things happen, but I wanted to let you know that I'm
alive and loving it.

Also, these are pictures of me with my host mom in the mountains and the Kukeri Festival, which is a pagan holiday that ancient
Bulgarians celebrated by wearing scary masks to bring good luck and
ward off the evil spirits that made people sick when the weather
changes. Then there's the very elaborate festival that the
kindergarten in my training site presented. It was so cute, and very
impressive. Finally, there's a picture from our horo dance group
(traditional Bulgarian dancing).

Please write me back!
These views do not reflect the views of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Wooden Spoons, Why Not?

This blog does not reflect the views of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.

Zdrasti! I feel like a lifetime has passed since coming to Bulgaria because of how much has been going on. I found out my permanent site after training and had a visit last week. I will be an English literature teacher ( I have a lot of reading to do) at a language school in a medium sized town in Bulgaria. I will miss the beautiful mountains of my training site and of course my host family, but it seems there will be no shortage of things to do in my future site. I will soon have an address for you to send mail to, and since my birthday is coming up in July (cough: hint: cough) you will be able to send packages at that point.

I alluded to my site being busy earlier, and I think this deserves some clarification. I will inherit a baseball team. No joke. The current volunteer taught the 8th grade students how to play baseball and they've been a traveling team under his coaching for the past two years. I have no special talent for baseball and I don't even know how baseball stats work, but I guess that's what Peace Corps is about-stretching yourself to try new things. P.S. Eric, Ryan, Craig, anybody who can give me advice, that would be great. I also have received a lot of interest from the girls in my classes to help them start a dance camp. It was cute and actually hilarious when one girl came up and asked me to teach her hip hop. I think I would have to learn first.

So we were gone for about a week traveling to the permanent sites and returned to our host families just in time for May 24 and high school graduation. May 24 is Bulgarian language and culture day, otherwise known as Cyril and Methodius Day, the creators of the Cyrillic/Bulgarian alphabet and language. Students had a parade and there were a lot of events for the graduates, such as a procession and a prom-like dance. It's also a tradition that the graduates drive through town counting 1,2,3, up to twelve and cheering. They've been doing that pretty much all week long. Tomorrow we will have a lesson in a nearby town, so I have to get ready for it.

Oh I almost forgot to tell you about my strangest day hiking in the countryside yet. Everything was great on the way up, but you know me, afraid of heights and all, so on the way down it was more tricky, there were a lot of dead leaves on the ground and we didn't really have a path, so I fell four times at the end where all the 50+ Bulgarians were waiting, laughing hysterically. Don't worry I didn't bruise more than my pride, but I did manage to rip a giant hole in the crotch of my jeans. After that we went to a village looking for cold water when a woman invited us into her home. She basically had a museum of a traditional Bulgarian home-complete with scary mannequin. I was feeling better and she was incredibly friendly when we left, especially when she gave me a set of wooden spoons because I said I was moving further away. We then got a ride to the bus stop in a horse-drawn cart. I love Bulgaria.

There, I've written a lot, complete with pictures of the Roman ruins behind my house (for Joni!) and I expect a snippet back. That's all I ask.

I wish you health, happiness, and luck
желая ви здраве щастие и късмет