Thursday, April 15, 2010
Bulgarific, Bulgarad, Bulgaridiculous
So the last time I posted the weather was still pretty miserable, in fact, one day in March, I slipped on the ice and hit my head on the tiles outside. Yow. But things have gotten much better since then.
I've recently been hanging out with some sweet young people in my town who have moved back home from the bigger cities where they studied in the university. One of them, Elitza, is an award-winning folk music vocalist, and she wowed the socks off me at a na gosti dinner at our friend's house. Here's some photos of the cooks and the singer. I'm going to send along a clip (if technology doesn't fail me) so you can hear it, because it is really unique.
I also started training recently for something I never thought I'd do. A couple of my students run with a group in town, so I joined in. This is an orienteering group. Basically we run around according to maps and find hidden flags. Scavenger hunt, only think harder and more getting lost. At least that's how it went down for me. On Easter weekend, I attended my first event, and luckily my friend Kari went along for moral (and directional) support. Well, the coordinators hearing that this was our first event signed us up for the 14 year old division. Glad they did, because a 2km course took us not one...but two hours! Yowsers. Yup we were grimy after slipping and sliding and scratching our heads and dashing around for so long, but in the end we found all 12 points and didn't fall off the side of the mountain (heave huge sigh of relief here).
That night, all the participants went out to eat and we scurried off to the church for the Easter Vigil. I sang with the choir and then we all went out and circled the church three times for the Holy Trinity, father, son, holy spirit. Also it's a great opportunity for socializing, and I'm pretty sure I saw some of my students who had already begun the festivities with a bit of rakia.
The next day I began the arduous task of packing up some of my things. I will be doing that until I leave here, and it's intimidating. Kind of scary the amount you can amass in two years. Earlier last month, we had our Close of Service (COS) Conference in a beautiful town in central Bulgaria. It was a time for reflection and panic mostly, as we talked about the dire economic situation waiting for us in the States. It was also a good chance to say goodbye to the volunteers we won't see as much before we head back.
I got in the travel frame of mind lately with a spring break trip to Istanbul with some volunteers and their friends and family from the States. It was a great opportunity to practice the Turkish that I've been studying here (and even though they were mostly tourist phrases and simple sentences, I got a kick out of it). Also, here's some big news that maybe I haven't shared yet..I got accepted to a small private university in New York for my Master's in International Political Economy and Development. Some of the folks on the trip to Istanbul were from New York, so they prepped me on some of the differences (for example, wear whatever you want because no one is surprised by anything....cross the street more aggressively, Emily!...you'll want to live by these train lines....and everything everything everything is expensive). If anyone has any more advice to help me deal with the culture shock, it would be greatly appreciated!
It was a little difficult getting back into teaching, but this week I'm working on a volleyball game volunteers v. students like last year, and we're planting some trees and doing a cleanup for Earth Day. I'd like to hear what everyone is doing for Earth Day and how everyone is in general!
On one last odd note, I just stopped at the post office (a frustrating experience every time) and picked up a box to ship some things home. On the way I saw the man who grazes his goats outside my apartment. Partially because I'm still in a tourist frame of mind and partially because I want to have proof that people really did graze their animals in my yard when I go home, I chatted up the man (Ivan) and took a picture of him and his goat (who was really really hungry). The little boys nearby who were taunting him by calling him a villager drew closer when I left, so I'm hoping they now saw that it was acceptable to have a conversation with Ivan (I hope they didn't decide to harass him further!).
I hope you and yours are healthy wealthy and wise, or at least healthy and happy!