Monday, August 22, 2005

I will live in "Trood" for the next three months.

Okay, so it's pronounced "Trood," but I wish I could turn on the cyrillic option here on this keyboard so you could see how unlike this phonetic spelling it truly is. Anyway, I will refer to it as "Trood." Trood is about 5 km from Plovdiv, which is the second-largest city in Bulgaria. We went there briefly today to visit the police station and get some documents in order. I think I'm really going to like living so close to a city worth exploring.
My family is really sweet. My "mom" started crying when she met me. It actually helped me relax. I felt kinda like that runt-like puppy at the pound and I thought, "They really want me!" The dad thinks it's funny that I have the same family name as "Mel Gibson," but that's usually amusing to people who don't speak English. A light turns on and they love having a way to identify me.
Their niece, Nellie, is staying with them. She's about my age, and she's a real sweetheart. She speaks a little more English than I do Bulgarian, and she's great to repeat words for me over and over again. "Grape, peach, pig, chicken, yellow, dog, cat." Could you imagine wanting to be friends with someone who just said these words to you over and over again? Like I said, she's a sweetheart. We have our laughs.
The family has already put me on a scale and weighed me. I think they're going to try and fatten me up. Nellie is slightly taller than I and even more svelte. I hope they're pulling the "Hansel and Gretel" routine on her as well.
The house is fairly nice. It's a two-story space and Kostadin's (my "dad") parents live on the bottom floor. I have my own room. It's pretty spacious and it has two beds and a T.V. Is this "Peace Corps" you say? Yes, I was wondering that myself, but I'm not complaining. The bathroom across the way is kind of a novelty. It's designed for squatting. There's basically two footrests and a hole in the floor where you do your business. I don't mind this so much except for the fact that the shower is located in the very same space. They have shower shoes, and they keep the area clean, but I'm psychologically still having issues with it. There's a more conventional lavatory (toilet, shower and tub separate) downstairs, but I'd like to get used to this way in case my apartments sets the facilities up as such. I don't know if I'll ever truly get used to it though. As a side-note, we have a garden and domestic animals.
The weekend was quiet. I spent most of the day at the house and the evenings at the cafe called "Station." It's the place to be. Now that the week has started, we have language/program training. I study with three other volunteers. We're a small group, but I'm hoping that will facilitate and expedite language-learning. I feel very safe here, but I know I am something of an oddity. I went running last night, and people like to stare. Children, especially, seem to have no problem staring me down. Men stare. I'd like to think it's 'cause I'm pretty, but it's more likely that they're just interested in looking at the American. I'm not sure how many truly know that I'm a foreigner, but my teacher has told me that everyone knows. My family has promised their neighbors that they will get a proper introduction. Who knows how long it will be before they have "Na Gosti" (long party) and it turns into an "American-girl-debut-party?" Ah well. Good times.


Trang said...

April! So GOOD to hear stories already! I'm glad you made it there safely and seeing/feeling new things. yay! I totally feel you on the novelty of the bathroom. My uncle's place when I visited him for a couple weeks in Vietnam was exactly that, the pit and steps for squatting. An unpleasant experience, but you do get used to this. And for the shower, we actually had water in a bucket in which you scooped water with a cup and voila, your shower. Didn't know this still existed in Europe too!

Glad to hear you made it.

Anonymous said...

Apes, just to let you know, the anonymous is Liz. I'm too lazy to get a blogger account. I'm so glad you are blogging because it makes me feel right there with you and you don't feel so far away. Stay safe and I pray every day for you.


Rebecca said...

man, what fun. I think it is fun being a "star" for a while than being ignored, I mean if they just left you alone, I think you would be miserable. I would. anyway xoxox

Anonymous said...

It's Andrea again. =)
Does anyone else run or jog? Is that just an American thing by chance?
Oh, and yeah, the guys are looking at you because you are dead sexy honey. ;-)