Monday, May 08, 2006

Gainful Employment

First off, I’ve posted lots of pictures from the last four months in Rakitovo. Click here if you want to see them.
I was offered a job last week; a real job where I’d be making real money. Not that Peace Corps gives us Monopoly money, but PC is kind of like a parent giving a child an allowance. In fact, they call what they give us “living allowances.” Anyway, I was offered a job at a bar that an English couple is opening in Rakitovo. They live in a nearby town, and I randomly met them in Pazardjik last year when we were getting our legal documents in order. It’s a shame I can’t take the job. It’s a huge conflict with my current employer (I’m sure I’d be let go from PC), and I don’t have the time anyway. It’d be cool to make some extra money for my organization. Actually, I’d probably take a large percentage for traveling. And then there’s the whole “working at a bar in Bulgaria” thing. That’s just random. How many Americans can put that on their resume? I guess I’ll just have to be content with all the prestige that comes from being a Peace Corps Volunteer. Wait, what? Oh right, there’s really no prestige in that. Why am I doing this again?
This update is fairly pointless. There’s nothing new and exciting going on here. But that doesn’t stop me from posting! Aren’t you lucky? Brandy and I did have to go into Pazardjik for an overnight trip last week because Peace Corps had to go over some new policies they’re implementing for us volunteers. Basically, it’s limiting our travel. We’ve been able to pretty much pick up and go wherever (in-country) we want whenever we have free time. Now, PC is trying to limit our weekend travel so we’ll stay in site a little more often… along with a few other new rules it’s enacting. This is supposed to be helping with our integration into the community. It really doesn’t matter to a volunteer like me – who’s a bore and rarely goes anywhere. Leaving site just isn’t as appealing to me as I thought it would be. I like it here, and leaving is a hassle anyway. It really sucks for those who live in tiny little towns, have significant others in other sites, or just feel they need to get out every weekend. The new policy isn’t really that restrictive. It’s just going to be very different for new volunteers and for us who are used to quite a bit of freedom. I doubt it will affect my life much. But if it does… guess who gets to hear me whine about it? Uh-huh. That’s if you’re still reading, I suppose.
I’m hosting a dance workshop this week. We have some talented and educated dancers in the Peace Corps: David, Jerramy, and Amy. I’m sure I’ve mentioned them before. They’re great kids. I went to Istanbul with them, and we’ve had some other good times together. Well, David agreed way back during training to come out and put on a dance workshop in my town. He’s in charge, and Jerramy and Amy will be helping out. It should be fun! My colleagues put up posters I’d made last week (one’s already been torn down – jerks!), and about 50 kids (96% girls) have signed up so far. We’ll be learning foxtrot, waltz, swing, salsa, tango, and cha-cha. Plus, I’ll get to play hostess! Leslie’s coming out that weekend, too. I’m not used to having visitors. While this will be Leslie’s third visit, I haven’t hosted anyone else. It should be interesting. I just hope it goes well.
More random reasons to talk about why David is cool: he mailed me a Sting mix CD this week in preparation for the June concert. I’m listening to it as I write this. It’s pretty good stuff.
The remodeling of the building for our educational center is going along slowly and surely. Yanko continues to chunk old tiles out of the kitchen sink, and we’ve gotten white tiles to take their place. We also received a donation of sand this last week, which we’ll use to mix with cement we’ve just been delivered. We’ve cleaned up the inside (there used to be a bunch of trash everywhere), and we’ve spruced up the outside as well by putting in plants and flowers. Yanko has asked that I write to the U.S. Embassy again for more materials. We’ll see if that leads to anything.
Saturday was “St. George’s Day.” Anyone who has the name “Georgi” or “Gergana” got to celebrate their name day, plus it’s traditional to eat lamb. My landlords’ children said they would have invited me over if I ate lamb (Enyo continues to work on his campaign to get me to eat meat), and Ani and Yanko actually did invite me over and fed me salad and beans – with no pressure to eat the lamb. Historically, their ancestors would go into the forest on this day and begin their work (which would keep them away from their home all summer). They would celebrate by eating lamb and having a party. Also, it’s a national day for the Bulgarian Army or something. I really don’t know. It seems like there’s always an excuse to celebrate something. The lunch was nice though. Afterwards, I watched a clever and amusing film Maria and Reneta had made featuring their numerous dolls as a Spanish monarchy. I also saw some video Yanko has taken of events the organization has held in recent months… including the April 8th celebration where I got on the stage in the “chitalishte” and tried to dance “kuchek” in front of hundreds of people. Bleh. Watching video of myself (especially when I’m making a fool of myself) isn’t high on my list of favorite things to do, but I wasn’t all that bad if I do say so.
After lunch at my boss’ place, I went over to Brandy’s – who had made Mexican food to celebrate cinco de mayo. Good stuff. I’ve now officially had Mexican food twice since coming to Bulgaria – and it’s been within the last month with one time in Istanbul. Both times have been yummy experiences, but it hasn’t measured up to the stuff I’m used to in California. There’s not much one can do about that. This isn’t California.
Yeah. Don’t worry. There are times when I miss home for sure (and not just when I’m thinking about Mexican food). I’m pretty far-removed from life there. Living in Bulgaria has become a weird sort of “normal” that I’ve adapted to, and my life in the states seems so far away, but I still miss it sometimes. Almost nine months of living abroad will do that to you, I suppose. I’m trying to remember how I felt about this time in Spain. It was really different five years ago though. I was getting ready to go home at this point, and I was surrounded by Americans there. Well, this is neither the time nor the place to host an identity crisis and voice my early fears about “reverse culture-shock.” Ciao!


kit said...

apryl! holy crap, sam told me you had a blog but i had no idea. i'm totally reading up on this one now.

anyway you said a lot but i definitely vibed with the culture shock thing. i'm sure you'll have a little trouble readjusting to california when you do return.

our friend kate is going to africa to educate people about aids. we're worried, and we know she's going to come back a very different person and may have a real challenge even relating to us for awhile after she's back four years from now.

anyway i'm super proud you're doing the peace corps thing, although we do miss you back here.

check out our blog. i'll read yours if you read mine. :P

kit said...

by the way, for you should switch to flickr for your photos. that way we don't have to suffer through another wide shot in the pathetic resolution snapfish displays. just a thought. ;)

wondercabinet said...

Last year I was living in Sofia, and I convinced my friend to journey with me to Gurkovo to the world's first donkey museum. Of course, they didn't know what to make of us showing up in their small town, and because my friend is an American journalist, the mayor of Gurkovo insisted on setting up a meeting with us so that we would write about the museum and his town in the American media.
While we were in the mayor's smoke-filled office, drinking rakia (!?) during business hours, the mayor wanted us to meet a Peace Corps volunteer from Michigan. He was the only volunteer, and though he had been there for awhile, he could speak no Bulgarian. He told us he had no idea why he was sent there since this village was not so poor (it's near Kazanluk) and many people already knew english. He was baffled. Do you find your experience similar?

Anonymous said...

Why everybody is so inlove with this f*cken gipses? God... I just stand people and thinking... ARE YOU CRAZY???There are so many Bulgarians working because they want to study and they have no money or the competition is so big that they have no chance at all. Do you know how many people are staing without education because of this monkeys? Yes they are monkeys because they even cannot speak Bulgarian. Apryl, I know you and we have spoken, so I am sure you know Bulgarian better than most of them...But they are studing in the uneversities for free and without any exam. As a Bulgarian Student you must have Exelent marks at school to go and study, but for the gipses-only Good marks are the perfect score...
You know... i am sick of these gipses at all!