Thursday, June 01, 2006

I'm Naming My Fifth-Born "Thassos"

I was in Kavala, Greece over the last weekend. It’s a beautiful place, but it took me 14.5 hours to get there. I had to go up to Sofia first, and then down to Thessaloniki and over to Kavala. It was worth it though. I met up with Jerramy, Amy, and Amy’s parents. We went to the ancient city of Phillipi and the island of Thassos. Kavala is a charming town located next to the Aegean Sea. Our hotel was right next to the water. I could look out our window and see both the town and the sea. The first day, we went to Phillipi – where we saw an ancient amphitheatre, an acropolis, churches, remnants of the public market and forum in broken, marble chunks, and the Apostle Paul’s prison cell. It was amazing how much freedom we were given just to climb around on stuff. We spent most of the day exploring the place and then climbing up to the acropolis as the last hurrah. By the end of the afternoon, we were tired. After a quick swim in the hotel’s dirty, saltwater pool and a shower, we went into the old town for a tour of the castle fortress and some dinner.
The next day, we got up early to catch a ferry to the island of Thassos. The island had some interesting terrain. We went up into the mountains, with their tiny villages and tiny roads, and we drove down by the water as well. The island was filled with quite a bit of dry brush. There were some olive orchards and pine trees. The landscape wasn’t always the prettiest thing, but the water was a beautiful azure color near the coastline, and then it transformed into a deep blue further out. The island was beautiful in its desolation, and there was plenty of activity going on around there. It probably would have taken a couple hours to circumnavigate, but we stopped a few times in villages, once for lunch, and multiple times to snap photos.
We went back to Kavala for dinner that night, and had some Haägen Dazs for dessert. I had a Belgian waffle with Belgian chocolate ice cream and chocolate syrup on top. It was SO good! I hadn’t had a waffle in ages! These are things you just don’t find in Bulgaria. In fact, I ran into some other volunteers at my stop in Thessaloniki and they said that they had gotten some coffee at Starbucks, eaten at Applebee’s, and done some shopping at Zara… getting their “western fix.” It’s just too bad it’s so expensive there. It’s still nice to know it’s there as an escape.
Sunday was an all-day travel day as well, but at least I was able to come up in a car with them this time. We got to Sofia in the late afternoon, and then I had to catch a bus back to site. In Sofia, I had a group of taxi drivers refuse to take me to the bus station. They were busy doing nothing or something. I was so irritated. I told them, “Thanks… for nothing,” and walked away to find another cab. They thought that was funny. Jerks. I barely made my bus.
So that was my trip. I had a good time. I like hanging out with Amy and Jerramy, and Amy’s parents were fun, too. I have always wanted to visit Greece – especially Greek islands, and I still do. I’ve been to one now. There are still more to see. I’m excited to go to Athens come November for the marathon. That can wait though. I still have tons to do before then. In the meantime, I've spent way too much time putting together some pics for you. If you don't want your hair to turn grey while looking at them, just glance at the thumbnails or look at a few. Here's the link to photos in Greece. And here's the link to the latest photos on happenings in Rakitovo. We've got the dance workshop, the Senior ball, Angel and Veska's graduation party, and others in there.
Yay! A package from my mom got here! I now have actual RED Big Red gum, a bunch of other goodies, and that ever-persistent mail: credit card applications, alumni invitations, driver’s license renewal, etc. Rockin’ good times. Thanks, Mom!
I had fun with my kids on Monday. They still want to do the dances they learned, and they ask me to dance with them – foxtrot, cha-cha, tango, etc. “Gozpojo, how do you dance cha-cha again?” And then we played tag and hide-and-seek. I love it when I can just play with the kids.
I'm in Sofia now - at the Radisson Hotel using their wireless internet. I love it here. It's fast, it's free, and I can use my own laptop to get things done. Did you know they have wireless in my town!?!?! I just found out yesterday and nearly fainted. The guy was trying to set up a wireless network. It wasn't working, and I was thinking, "Ummm... shouldn't you be pulling out a cable and setting up a landline somehow?" Finally, I noticed that the wireless button on my computer wasn't turned on, so I hit it, and a couple networks popped up. I nearly fell over in astonishment. Of course, the networks don't reach my house, but they're there. I have to get a USB wireless adapter to improve the strength or something. I'm going to look for one in Plovdiv, (the guy says he can't find it in Sofia or Pazardjik) and then, if I can't find it there, I might be sending out an e-mail to people I think who love me the most and might send me one. Or I could just suck it up and order one on Amazon.
The bummer about being in Sofia though is that it means it's just a stopping point on two weeks of being away from my site. I like my town. It's hard to leave. I especially had a hard time leaving this morning because there was the cutest little kitty outside my house - mewling incessantly. It was gray with the prettiest blue eyes. It was shivering (it rained this morning), so I gave it some milk and held it for a while. Then I had to put it down and walk away. I could hear it crying from my house though, and I wanted to bring it inside. I couldn't though. I'm no savior for a cat, and I'll be gone for two weeks anyway. I'll be in touch though and let you know what I'm up to. It's a lot. June and July are busy.
Hey, Uncle Rik, I made some minestrone soup. You’d be proud of me. It’s not as good as yours, but it’s pretty hearty and fairly yummy nonetheless. Love you!
Okay, I’m out of here for now. I’ll catch you readers later.
P.S. Happy Birthday, Grandpa Gibson! (tomorrow) I love you!

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