Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Caught in the Hail

It hailed yesterday. I was on my way up to the Mahala to work on our building project when a sudden thunderstorm decided to make an appearance. It was such a beautiful day yesterday, and then it clouded up and rained off and on for a good few hours. Then it went back to being sunny and beautiful. I saw a few little drops on the ground when I left my apartment, but I decided it wasn’t worth turning around and going back to get my umbrella. By the time I got up to the building, I was soaked. Tiny balls of ice fell from the heavens for about half a minute, but I was outside and got to witness it. My colleagues were appalled by my “drowned-rat” look and insisted I wear Yanko’s clothes. I was a funny site to see for sure.
So we’ve gotten some more work done on the building. We had a disappointment on Sunday when the guy who agreed to show up and pave the floor of our building reneged. I’ve actually almost gotten used to that happening – it’s occurred so many times with people I’ve learned not to count on here. As we were sitting outside, cursing this guy for letting us down, another guy showed up. Yanko showed him the work and explained that we were on a tight budget. He said we would do it, but we weren’t ready to believe such promises until we saw them completed. He did show up yesterday, but then he disappeared for long stretches at a time. We weren’t sure what this guy’s deal was and if he was really going to fulfill the obligation. When he came back, he worked like a horse, and we got a lot done. My colleagues are happy and relieved. I’m feeling good, too. It’s going to get done – little by little.
I mentioned in my last post that I was hosting a dance workshop with a few other volunteers. David, Jerramy, and Amy came out on Wednesday, and it was really nice to have them here. On Thursday, we started from four o’clock and went until eight: one hour of foxtrot, followed by an hour of waltz, then swing, and finally salsa to wrap it up. Brandy hosted us for dinner that night, and she impressed them with her cooking skills and HBO. The next day, we went running up into the hills and park of Rakitovo. They totally left me in the dust. I really need to work on my distance and up-hill running. Man! We followed that up with lunch and then had another four hours of dancing: again foxtrot, waltz, swing, and then cha-cha. Leslie also came that day to visit. Jerramy and Amy had to leave early Saturday morning to get back home (all the way on the other side of the country), and then David and I hosted a tango class. In the afternoon, we had a review/party of all the dances. Then Brandy and Leslie hosted us for dinner.
The workshops were a lot of fun, and I was sad when the weekend ended. I’m not used to having guests, and I felt lonely when they left. They’re really low-maintenance guests, and I felt comfortable and relaxed pretty much the whole time. They brought a lot of amusement to Rakitovo, and they helped me to see how really beautiful it is here. I guess when you live in a place, you don’t realize how great it can be until someone else comes and brightens it for you by offering another pair of eyes to look through. The dancing was great, too. I got to interact with some new kids this way and get a little more exposure in the town. Plus, I learned some dances myself. The kids were so fun, and they adored the other volunteers. They still ask me where they are and why they’re not here. Plus, many of them thought we were going to get up on stage for some festival and show people what we had learned. When I tried my best to explain that it was just for a few days to have a little bit of fun, they looked at me like I had just killed their mother.
I got to know some of the volunteers a little better, too. Jerramy stayed with me during most of our run, and I got to talk to him a little about his and Amy’s life in site. One night, David and I hung out on my balcony until about three a.m. He’s probably cursing me in his blog for keeping him up that late, but I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know him a little better.
So, the extended weekend was a good one. There were some hard times with trying to explain dances in Bulgarian, but the kids were more respectful and attentive than I expected. There were times when we worried that we weren’t going to have many kids, but a bunch would eventually come in. We had some regulars, too, who were there for almost every dance. Plus, the other volunteers were able to laugh through the language barrier, and the kids tried their best to understand and follow along. It really was a fun experience that I’m not doing justice here because I’m all over the place and my writing is not up to the task at the moment. Suffice it to say that I had a good time, and I think the kids and other volunteers did, too.
I was worn out when it was all over though. On Sunday, I was feeling deflated (and a little defeated from where things stood with the building project) and wasn’t a good hostess to Leslie. She was supposed to go to Velingrad with Brandy, and when Brandy got sick and couldn’t go, I wasn’t able to step up to the plate. I just wanted to stay close to home and deal with my own thoughts.
And I totally forgot it was Mother’s Day! Brandy reminded us that morning, but when my mom called to talk and say that I had made her blueberry pancakes, I just wasn’t getting it. Bulgaria doesn’t really have a Mother’s Day anymore. They have the eighth of March, which used to be like a Mother’s Day (and still is to some extent), but now it’s been changed to an International Woman’s Day to celebrate all females. I’m so glad my mom called. It made my evening.
I’m starting to feel a little overwhelmed – not that I have a bunch of stuff to do. It’s hard to explain. It’s like, I’ve got a lot of little things on my plate that I just keep forgetting to deal with or have to get pushed aside for other things. Tiny little things like people here asking me to print pictures out for them – which should theoretically be easy, but it means a trip to Velingrad to do it. Tiny little things like, because I speak English, I’ve been asked to get in contact with the Canadian government for a Death Certificate, but it’s difficult to get things done because the requester doesn’t have all the information Canada wants. And I don’t even know why Canada needs certain things, and I’m having a hard time explaining them in Bulgarian when I can’t see the reason behind them. Tiny little things like e-mails and keeping contacts up for side projects, but I don’t have as much internet access as I used to because I have to share with six other colleagues one computer with internet. I don’t do much in the office and would love to take off to do other things, but I feel like it’s not fair to my organization. They show up in the office whether or not they have things to do. Why not me, too? Tiny little things like wanting to help in the building, but not being in shape to cart around heavy buckets of cement. Whine, whine, whine. It takes much longer to do things here than it should, and I’m thinking I need internet in my apartment. It’s apparently difficult to find a cable for my laptop though. I don’t know. Hopefully I can have it soon and get more done. In the meantime, I’ll whine on my blog.


kit said...

...and i'll keep reading.

as for seeing how beautiful a place is through the eyes of someone else, it definitely helps. hopefully you can hang onto and remember that beauty.

Coffee Cheek said...

I love ya, APES!!