Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Snezhanka

How many times can I whine and complain about melting snow creating rivers and puddles everywhere I want to walk? And how many times can I lament and moan about how no one shows up to my English classes!!?!?!?!? Okay. I'm done... for now. I did run into a couple kids from my Monday class on my way up, and they were wondering if we were going to have a lesson today. I should have told them "yes" since I missed out on their session. I suppose it is vacation time, and as no one is in school... and apparently we're not in the office either? I showed up today, and no one was there. I hiked up to the Mahala to talk to my colleagues, and I was told that we wouldn't be working until after the New Year. Oh, okay. You see, I have this very special gift. It's called "selective hearing." As my Bulgarian skills are quite limited, I tend to zone out if no one is talking directly to me. If I'm involved in the conversation, I'm good. If not, I'm lost. Then, when something happens, I'm constantly asking, "Wait, what's going on again? Why are we doing this?" Yeah. I'm sure my colleagues are slightly confused by my "dim-wittedness." During training, my family would notice my spaced-out look and say, "Where are you, Apryl? In America?" And my sister asked me many times where I was during the holiday. It's just too hard to pay attention when I don't know what's going on.
My Christmas was a good one. I got to talk to my mom on Christmas Eve and my dad on Christmas Day, so that made the holiday special. Plus, I was in Trud with my family. As I haven't seen them since I moved to Rakitovo, it was really great to go back. My mom started crying when I walked in, and my sister kept hugging me. It felt really good to be missed. And, if I couldn't be with my family in the states, at least I was with my family in Bulgaria - although I think there are other Bulgarians here who would like to think of themselves as my family. So, Christmas was fairly quiet. We watched a lot of cheesy Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel, and we went to "The Station." For those of you who remember from training, "Station" was the prime hangout. Nothing has changed, and I was there on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
My family gave me a pair of giant slippers in the shape of monkey-heads. How cute is that?!?! I also got a rather large chocolate Santa from my cousin. We had a nice dinner on Christmas Eve where we tried our luck at finding the stotinki in a dry cake (if you find it, you have good luck all year), and we each received traditional fortunes in the banitza (pastry dish). Mine said that I would soon be going on an "attractive excursion abroad." We'll see about that. I also received a fortune from Maria that said I'd be going to the states. Hmmm.... Anyway, I had a very nice Christmas with my family, and I didn't want to leave. I was so excited to be hanging out in Plovdiv again that I almost missed my bus back!
Yesterday my organization handed out bags of goodies to children. They waited for me to get back in order to distribute the gifts, and I was grateful for that. We gave the kids things like croissants, bananas, oranges, chocolate bars, chocolate Santas, pretzels, gum, and all sorts of other things good for rotting teeth. I suggested we also hand out toothbrushes, but they thought I was joking. It was so much fun to see the kids all happy and spoiled. Plus, it was neat to see Yanko really excited about arranging the whole thing. Ah, and I got to be "Snezhanka." Snezhanka is Santa's special helper. In traditions back in the states, we have Mrs. Claus, who I guess waits for Santa to return to the North Pole or something. Here we have Snezhanka... who's like, Santa's mistress. Nah, I'm kidding... but I still get the impression that Snezhanka is this nymph-like chalga singer. Plus, she gives out presents! What's not to like? Anyway, I was introduced as "Snezhanka" and the kids started clapping and cheering. It made me blush.
Later that evening we had a dinner party with our entire team and some of our supporters. After some good food and a few drinks, some of us got up and danced the "hora." It was a nice, relaxing evening, and I really appreciate my colleagues. Yanko always does his best to accomodate my vegetarianism in these situations, and it was great to have Valia back as she's been in the hospital with Jeanette. Apparently Jeanette's temperature spiked last night and they had to leave for a while, but I guess it was because her teeth are coming in. When it was explained to me, I thought they were saying that her teeth were falling out. I was trying to tell them that I thought it was a little early for this (she's about two), and they were saying, "No. No, it's not." I was confused for a while, and then the light came on and I'm like, "OHHH!!!" And they laugh at the silly American and we all drink some more and they talk about how they're going to teach me a Roma language. All I can do is smile and wonder if I'll ever get the hang of Bulgarian. If you knew how many different tenses this language has.... I thought Spanish was bad! Oh, and Yanko gave me a statue of this silver girl rising upward like a phoenix or something with the wind swirling behind her. Angel said it was me, and I gave him a look. Angel got the "Gentleman of the Year" award, and he also received a statue of a horse, which he said he's going to name "Aprylcho." He likes to compare me to the horses his dad raises because he tells me I'm wild, stubborn, and unable to stand still. And while he's telling me this, I space out....

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