Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Baseball, Hizha, and a Wedding

I have lots to share this time around.

First of all, two weeks ago was the regional baseball championship. My team was short of a couple of players, so we joined with a team from a village nearby. Luckily that village had an amazing pitcher, so we won the first two games with a good lead. The second team has a lot of sportsmanship issues, so after the game some of my boys had to climb the fence and search for our equipment that their opponents threw over. The last game our team was pretty tired and we played against one of the best teams in the country. We lost miserably, but overall it was a good day for boosting our players' confidence in themselves. I later got to watch the vice presidential debate (Thank you Youtube!) and sent off my absentee ballot.

During the week I've been teaching literature and beginning English to the 8th graders at my school. I feel like I'm falling into my routine finally. The only hiccup along the way has been the amount of cheating in some of my classes. Apparently cheating is looked at more as helping by some students and teachers. I will be working to change that as much as I can.

The next weekend was action-packed. I went to a mountain lodge on a lake with some of David's collegues. The homemade rakia (grape brandy) flowed liberally all night, and I got to practice a lot of my horo dancing. Again people were a little confused about what do with me as a vegetarian, but overall we had a great time. Early the next morning I barely caught a ride down the mountain to catch my bus back to Turgovishte for a wedding. I was late for the legal ceremony, but made it in time for the church ceremony of my friend and student, Joro. I got to meet his beautiful wife and the daughter of my collegue at the school.

Bulgarian weddings seem a lot like American weddings, but there were some differences. The bride and groom make their entrance in the reception by walking over a white cloth that has been arranged with Zdravets leaves (for health), coins (wealth), seeds (fertility), and candy (I don't remember). Guests at the wedding pick up each of the articles after they pass so that they can have health, wealth, etc. A young woman who keeps the white cloth is the next to be married. The bride and groom also pass under 3 ribbons, white for youth/innocence, blue for their children to be, and red for love. The best man makes a toast, and thebride and groom begin the night with a lively horo joined by the best man and maid of honor. There is even a similar tradition to make the bride (Bulka) and groom (Mladozhenets) kiss; instead of clinking their glasses with spoons however, people yell out GOR-CHI-VO!, which means bitter. Later there is something similar to a dollar dance, but instead the people donate money into a basket that the bride holds and join hands with her in a horo and people keep adding to the chain. Later in the night, the bride and groom open a champagne bottle. If the champagne explodes forcefully, they will have a son, if only a little, a daughter, and if not at all, twins. Fortunately (or unfortunatly) Joro and Nadia will be having twins (according to the champagne)! Like American weddings, the bouquet and the garter belt are tossed and the cake is cut, and dancing continues late into the night. Ooh, one thing I forgot to mention, though, they drink wine and then throw the glasses on the ground, and the more broken shards there are, the more love between them :)

I've attached some pictures of the baseball game, the mountain lodge, and the wedding. Enjoy! Also, please write me and let me know what is new and exciting with you!