Saturday, October 29, 2005

Welcome to Rakitovo

...and welcome to another Apryl-updates-her-blog-so-often-I-don't-have-time-to-read-the-last-post update. Yeah, I definitely use the internet way too much for a Peace Corps Volunteer. I think about my friend in Bolivia who didn't have hot water or electricity. If she wanted to use the internet, she had to make an overnight trip. And I think, "This isn't Peace Corps. It's 'Posh Corps,'" as many like to call it. But I guess you work with what you're given, and I've been given a site with internet only a few hundred yards from my flat, and I'm going to take the opportunity to make good use of it. I'm still debating on whether or not I'll actually get it in my place. It would probably be much easier if I did.
So yesterday was a lot of fun. My counterpart, Angel, came by and got me at about 1 pm to go get some lunch. We happened to be at a restaurant where celebrated WWII veterans were having a banquet. Angel pointed out to me that just about every one of them was wearing a medal. It was almost surreal to see celebrated war heroes that fought for the other side, and I wondered what their experience must have been like in comparison to our veterans. In my small comprehension, I would imagine it's not much different - except that they "lost." In war, everyone loses, but they lost when it was all said and done, and their history was shaped differently from ours by it. Yet they are still celebrated for their bravery. It's kind of a mind-trip to think about... at least it is to me.
After lunch, we went over to the chitalishte and watch a bunch of Roma kids put on a program of singing, dancing, and acting. It was a lot of fun to watch. I wish I could share it with you all. Afterwards, our organization hosted a lunch for the participants. Those kids are all so talented and cute, so my organization decided to reward them by sugaring them up with Pepsi and cake. Good times. Angel, Brandy, John (another TEFL), and I played some pool, and then Angel and I walked around town. He received a phone call from someone and told them that we were coming. My curiosity wasn't piqued, and I had no clue what was going on until I reached my foundation's clubhouse and saw a big sign on the door: "Welcome Apryl!" Angel had to push me inside because I really didn't want to be faced with whatever was behind that door. It was dark, but I could make out a bunch of kids, my colleagues, and my supervisor - who was filming with a camcorder. One of the boys presented me with a flower and starting speaking rapidly in Bulgarian. Then my supervisor gave me a bag filled with gifts from my organization. I was so overwhelmed, I didn't bother to try and make sense of what anyone was saying. So we had a party. My supervisor gave a speech about how he hoped I would be very happy here... how happy they are to have me... and how, by the time I leave, I will know the kuchek. The kuchek is a traditional, hip-shaking, Roma dance which I will probably never master, but I'd like to try. The party was great. We danced, laughed, ate some snacks, and danced some more. I really like the people who work with my organization. They seem like a lot of fun.
Afterward, I went to Brandy's house and hung out for a while. She has cable, so that means that I don't have to get it. =) I wasn't planning on getting a TV while I was here anyway. She gave me some "welcome to our town" gifts (her kids made me a Halloween card - it's so cute!), and then she fed me good potato soup, croutons, and spinach dip. She says that I'm lucky she likes to cook, and I would have to agree. Depending on how things go tonight, I might get some homemade Chinese food. I think we're going to have lots of fun here together in Rakitovo.
I went to church this morning. Can you believe it? There's an Adventist Church in Rakitovo. It nearly blew my mind. It's the first Adventist Church I've seen, and here it is in my tiny town. I guess there's another one in Velingrad (20 min. away), so maybe they're more common than I had thought. I had no clue what was going on for most of the service, but the congregation was really sweet, and Angel and I have already been invited to "na gosti" with one of the congregants. It's like when someone invites you to lunch after the service in the states, only we'll go some other day. The kids there put on a skit about Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Esau while a woman pulled them around 'cause they were never standing or sitting in the "right" place. She would interrupt them and tell them to slow down, and then to speak louder or softer. It was pretty funny. I had no clue what they were saying, but I knew the story well enough to know what was going on. Afterwards, I decided to go introduce myself to the kids.
We sang some hymns. I fumbled with the Cyrillic. The kids sang "Jesus Loves Me," and we sang a hymn to the tune of "O, Christmas Tree." After the service, I was invited to come up and present myself. They had lots of questions, but fortunately Angel was there to talk for me. I understood most of what they were asking and was able to respond. It was a good experience. I'll probably get to know these people pretty well since I plan on going back on a weekly basis. I planned to be a part of a church community over here in Bulgaria. I just didn't know it would still be an Adventist one.
This afternoon, Angel and I went to a game hall to play some table tennis, but it's been quiet ever since then. I fell asleep on a bench in the sun for a bit while Angel ruminated about how boring Rakitovo is - how he must be the most boring sutrudnik (counterpart) ever. It's not true. I wish I had the Bulgarian to explain to him how it's not true, but I was enjoying the sun. Someday we'll be able to communicate on a more philosophical level, whether that be in English or Bulgarian, and he'll probably astound me with his mental quandaries.
Tonight we're going to a Roma wedding. Angel was telling me that the bride is no more than 15, and the groom is about 17. They already have a child. Crazy, huh? That's what I'm here to combat against a little, hopefully. In the meantime, there's a wedding. It's cause for celebration, and Angel tells me that we'll be out late. Maybe I'll go take another nap.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Introvert, hehehehehe...