Tuesday, May 23, 2006

1...2...3...12! Class of 2006

My counterpart, Angel, finished high school this week at 21 years of age. His sister, Veska, also finished. I’m extremely proud of them. So the saying goes, “better late than never.” Plus, not many Roma around here continue on to high school – let alone finish. Angel invited me to come to his Senior Ball. It was a glamorous affair, so I had to go into Pazardjik to buy a formal gown, shoes, and all the glitz and glitter. It was a fun evening – although it’s been 7 years since I finished high school (gasp!), and I’ve kind of forgotten what it was like. Those kids are crazy, and they would go around shouting off numbers, from one to twelve, to signify their accomplishment. Snidely, I would think to myself, “Oh, great. You can count. That’s what twelve years of schooling got you.” But they’re high school kids having fun and celebrating their achievement. I’m just getting cantankerous and crotchety in my old age. It really was a lot of fun.
There was a short ceremony at the school to start things off. I’m sure tons of people were surprised and scandalized to see me there at all, especially with a Roma boy. I’m just trying to shake things up and become even more notorious in my tiny town. Some of the teachers I’m acquainted with kidded around with me and asked if I was a graduate, too. Apparently, one teacher asked Angel if we were engaged. Scandalous! Maybe I can get them to print in the local paper that I’m having his two-headed, alien baby, and I’m going back to the states to have it delivered.
After the school ceremony, we went to the banquet hall of a restaurant in Velingrad. There was live music, good food, and tons of people. There was the horo, slow-dancing, and kuchek. There were tons of people dressed to the hilt. My dress was actually pretty plain in comparison to everyone else’s. I’ll post more pictures later.
After hanging out there for several hours, we went to a local discotheque. Finally, at about 4 a.m., we returned to Rakitovo. Upon arriving home, I found the gate locked and the key in an unreachable spot. After cursing my situation for a few minutes, I decided I had little alternative but to hop the gate – in my pretty dress. So that’s what I did. It would have been great to get a picture of that.
Yesterday, Angel and Veska had a party in the Mahala to celebrate their accomplishment. It looked a lot like the weddings they have up there every so often. A live band came to play, and people danced around in circles (the horo) for a few hours. After that, the party continued in their house and front yard. The colleagues from our organization were given special guest privileges. We were able to go into the house and eat a meal. Veska and Angel both thanked the people at our organization for the support and encouragement they’ve received over the years to continue with their education. Both got teary-eyed and started crying. My colleagues shed tears as well.
Not long after, a group of Angel’s high school friends stopped by and were shuttled off into another room. I wanted to join them, as I’d spent time with them at the ball and thought they were fun kids, but I didn’t want to interrupt. Angel soon came up and said, “Apryl, they want you to come over and say hello.” Yes! I’ve been accepted by high school kids. It’s a tough crowd, man, especially when you’re doing the “adult thing.” So I spent the rest of the evening with them. Crazy nuts. Lots of singing, dancing, and laughing. Oh, and lots of taking pictures. Toward the end of the night, I was getting annoyed because anytime someone would talk to me, it would usually be to tell me to take their picture. “Apryl! Look what I’m doing! Take my picture!” Just because I have a nice camera doesn’t mean that I’m the designated photographer, and I’m here to cater to your whims. I was burned out, and I felt exploited. Aside from that, it was a really great evening. Veska and Angel got all sorts of presents, and they were perfect hosts to all their guests. Now, Angel is taking a well-deserved break with some of his classmates over on the coast at Sunny Beach.
As for the pictures, I was probably more sensitive because I was the designated photographer for our organization earlier in the day. We were taking part in a “healthy teeth” campaign at the Roma school that morning. I had been assigned to take pictures with the org’s new digital. The kids went nuts. “Gospozho, snimay mi,” (Miss, take my picture) over and over again. Kids would get their pictures taken and then come back a few minutes later demanding that I take another of them with a different group of friends. “When are you going to develop them? Can I have one? How much does it cost?” I even started running around to mix things up and act like I was trying to get away from them, and I have pictures of kids chasing me. It’s funny. Apparently I win in the end though. The campaign was filmed, and Brandy texted me to say that she had seen me on T.V.
The weather in Rakitovo has been rather odd lately. We would have a really sunny day, and then all the sudden, in the evening, we’d get a thunder storm. It was kind of cool – except when it happened the night of the ball, and we couldn’t have the school ceremony outside. It stopped soon enough. Now it’s just been pretty hot the past couple days. So much for spring.
I ran to the next town and back this morning. I don’t know how far it was, but it was an hour run. I’m a really slow runner, though, so it probably doesn’t mean much of anything. I’m feeling good though.
I ran into Milka, my landlady, today. She was passing out candy because she’s a proud Grandma – again. Her daughter had another baby yesterday, and apparently he’s healthy and happy. Milka was beaming when I saw her. She was passing out candy, and I happened to get the last piece. I’m now “Kakata O.K.” to Emil’s new brother, Kolyan.
Tomorrow is a holiday, and I found out that I actually do get the day off. That’s pretty sweet considering the fact that I’m taking vacation right after that. Jerramy and Amy have invited me to meet them (and Amy’s parents) in Kavala, Greece on Thursday, so I’ll be taking a bus down there. Wow. Greece. Yay! I haven’t been there yet. That should be a blast. We’ll come back on Saturday and then probably go to the Rila Monastery (probably the most famous monastery in the country). Then, it’s back to site, but I won’t stay long. Because of my work with a minority organization, I’m taking part in a minority panel in Dupnitsa for new trainees this next week. Right after that, it’s off to the other side of the country for a meeting with another volunteer’s girls’ group. That weekend, there will be an annual rose festival in the “Rose Valley” (middle) of Bulgaria. There’s also some fire-walking festival down by Turkey. Then, I’ll be in Plovdiv for a week with a day camp, and the following weekend I’ll go back to the coast for the Sting concert. June madness. July will be even busier. I’ll let you know how it goes.


Ms. Pastor said...

So that's Angel, huh? Good to have a face to go with the name.

And you look so pretty!! :)

David PCV Bulgaria said...

Wha? All this horo and no ballroom? No Salsa? Gee, I guess out of site out of mind. Oh well. :o(

Coffee Cheek said...

He's a cutie.

What was it that we said about Bulgarian men right before you left?

Self-fullfilling prophecy.