Monday, August 28, 2006

Insert Your Own Clever Title Here

I hate roosters. I especially hate the one that lives in the yard next to my bedroom window. He crows long before the sun rises, and every time he does that, I contemplate how to make a batch of “rooster mcnuggets.” If he met some type of fortunate accident, I would not mourn his absence. I am missing my storks, however. They took off a while back, and I haven’t seen them since. I guess that’s what happens when you grow up and move on. I’m sure it’s also because they’re sick of living on that bell tower with the bells that ring every morning at 7:30. I know I’m kind of tired of living right next to it. The storks taking off also means winter is coming again. *Shudder*
The center is coming along slowly but surely. We’ve been up there pretty much every day recently – installing electrical cables and switches, sweeping and mopping, painting the roof, sweeping and mopping, scraping the paint off our lovely floor tiles, and then sweeping and mopping again. Yesterday, we started painting the outside this beautiful chocolate brown color. Yanko's goat hangs out with us... eating the grass, flowers, and whatever else we give it. I think it likes our company. She cries and bleets when we leave. As far as the color of the paint, I think my colleagues wanted more of a beige shade, but I’m glad they settled on this, ‘cause we really don’t have the money to buy more paint and be picky.
They also want to do various other repairs which, while definitely needed, did not fall in the budget. I got a little frustrated, “Yeah, I want to do these things, too, but we have neither the time nor the money.” The center is scheduled to open October 1st, and while most everything is done, there are still a few big things still pending: the kitchen sink still needs to be retiled, and I still have no idea what we’re going to do about computers. That’s something I’ve given over to God. He’s kept this project on track so far, and He saved it when we almost lost it – twice! So yeah, I’ve put Him on computer detail as well.
We have a new, giant heater for the kitchen. It’s honestly a monster. They cracked a couple tiles just hauling it into the center, and I guess that’s just one of the casualties of this remodeling war. I suppose they can be fixed. It’s not that obvious. This heater honestly looks like a throwback from the communist era though. It looks like it could gobble people alive. I don’t think I’m ever going to want to be in that kitchen alone at night. Hehe.
I took a couple short hikes with some new acquaintances this last week. We had a bonfire the first night, and they roasted hotdogs. I wish I had had some veggie dogs! I came home smelling like campfire and loving it. It’s been a long time since I’ve smelled like that. The following day, we took a hike up to a deformed tree called “the tree of love.” It’s called that because two trunks merge at the base and form an upside-down heart shape. There’s another odd-looking tree nearby, so they’ve christened it “the tree of hate” just to balance things out. I also had a follower on that hike. Toshko is a boy in town who has seemed to take a liking to me. He’s probably about 21, and he lives alone. The poor guy lost his parents a while ago in a car accident. Whenever he sees me, he runs up to talk for a while and practice his English. Toshko is a well-meaning boy, but speaking to him is a test of wills. He insists on speaking only English, which is intensely admirable, but apparently he’s picked up all his vocabulary from studying the dictionary. His sentences miss verbs, connecting phrases, accurate pronunciation, and basic points. I struggle so hard to understand what he’s saying because he basically throws words at me and hopes they stick. I try so hard to remind myself how understanding everyone has been here with me and my Bulgarian, but I lack patience regardless. I need to be better about it because here is someone who actually wants to speak English with me. They’re few and far-between here in Rakitovo.
As a side note, there’s a girl here that I know only by sight. She was married the first weekend I was here in Rakitovo. Hers was the first Roma wedding I witnessed. I saw her yesterday, and she was pushing around her newborn baby. I’ve been here long enough to see a couple get married and have a kid. It’s weird and yet entirely normal at the same time. I feel like I’ve been living in Rakitovo forever.
The town of Dospat is in the Rhadopes, a few hours away from Rakitovo. There’s a beautiful reservoir there – as shown in the pictures. I went there this weekend with my friend, Fanka, for a “sabor.” A “sabor” is basically your county fair. They have carnival rides, bad food stands, musicians and shows, and outdoor markets. So, it’s your county fair – Bulgarian style. Fanka goes every year because she has family there, and she invited me to come with her. I had a great time meeting her family and walking around the “sabor.” I also saw a lot of chalga singers. I won’t bore you with their names, ‘cause you’ve probably never heard of them. These people have become practically part of my daily life, and while I’m actually getting sick of chalga music, I was actually more excited to see them live than I thought I would be.

**Side note: I really am sick of chalga though… with its horrid unrequited love themes… half-naked singers… and the lifestyle it promotes. Most of the songs just take someone else’s music and add new lyrics to them. I’ve often thought, as I’m walking by a house blasting chalga, “You will let these people in your homes and let them influence your life, but you won’t get to know me and see if there’s anything real I can share with you.” At the concert, one of the male singers told a girl that she would make a good chalga singer ‘cause she’s so pretty. Right. Nevermind that we don’t even know if she can sing. She’s hot. Let’s get her some plastic surgery so she can become even more unattainably hot, and then let’s market her and tell her what to sing. It’s a business. We do it in the states, too.**
But anyway, I had a good time hanging out with Fanka and her family. Afterwards, we went to a tiny little “selo” (village) where her grandma lives and spent the night. I met a family friend, and he proposed we get married so he could move to the states with me. When I stated my aversion to that idea, he offered me his son. It was all half in jest. He gave us a ride down the mountain back to Rakitovo the following day. His poor son was in the front seat, and he kept telling him to get ready to marry me and pack his bags for America. It’s not really the first time this has happened. I meet a lot of really great people that tell me they love America and ask me what it takes to go there. One of Fanka’s uncles grilled me about America, but he was fun to talk to. I wonder what the turn-out would be if I put up advertisements offering myself as a bride/free-ride to the states. It’s kind of sad ‘cause I don’t think it’s fair for a country to be so much better off than the majority of the world and make it pretty much impossible for most people to even visit to see how it is. Don’t get me wrong though, I know how blessed I am to come from such a land of opportunity, and I can pretty much go wherever I want.
Speaking of marriage, Mr. I’ll-build-you-a-house-where-we-both-can-live Krum has backed off a little recently. I still see him every once in a while at the center, but he doesn’t hang around as much. I ignore him for the most part when he does stop by. That doesn’t stop him from asking when we can hang out though. Yesterday, he had a cute, little seven-year-old girl come up and talk to me about his intentions.
Girl: “Krum wants me to tell you that he loves you, and he wanted me to give you this.” She then hands me a beautiful rose... which I later fed to the goat.
Krum: “Now ask her if she loves me.”
Girl: “Do you love Krum?”
Apryl: “That’s a secret.”
Krum: “Okay, I’ll go away, so you can tell her your secret,” and he walks off.
Girl: “What’s your secret? Do you love Krum?”
Apryl: “Secrets are secrets. I don’t tell secrets.”
Girl: “If you don’t tell me your secret, I won’t tell you Krum’s secret.”
Apryl: “Fine. Don’t tell me. Keep Krum’s secret.”
Girl: “Okay. Krum told me to tell you that he loves you and he wants to kiss you. Now what’s your secret?”
Apryl: “Na-ah. It’s my secret. I’m not telling you.”
After work yesterday, I finally stopped by the tiny historical museum we have in town. I’ve been meaning to go there ever since I came to Rakitovo on my site visit. Angel pointed it out to me, and we tried to go in, but it was closed at the time. We always said that we would go back, but it’s one of those things that just gets shuffled by the wayside in the midst of life. Every time I’ve thought about it, I’ve found the place closed. Yesterday, I thought about it, and it was finally open! So I went inside (looking like a ragamuffin with my painting clothes) and had a private tour from the very nice curator. I told her a little bit about myself and my work here, how I’ve almost been here a year already and have never stopped by, but it didn’t register with her until I told her my name. Apparently she’s heard of me. Hopefully it’s nothing but good stuff.
The museum itself is really charming. The grounds are nice, and they have an ethnographic and archaeological portion. It was interesting to see how Bulgarians lived in the early part of the last century and then look at a bunch of 12th century (and even earlier!) tiles, stones, and icons found in the Rakitovo municipality. I’m so proud of myself for finally going in. There are a lot of places like that for me here – places I say I’ll check out… places I say I’ll go and explore, and it just hasn’t happened yet. I’ve fallen into a routine that takes me on the same old streets over and over again. It’s sad really.
I had an awesome Spanish class yesterday with Maria and Reneta. They’re so eager to learn, and they catch on fast. I haven’t had class with them in a while, and I need to be better about showing up. They miss their classes when I can’t come, and I miss them, too. English classes will start again in October, and while I’m already getting kids (and a few adults) asking me about them, I’m not excited to start those up again. I need to be better about planning my lessons to make them more fun and easy-to-learn, but I just lack some serious self-esteem when it comes to teaching English. Bleh.
Guess what else! Courtesy of friends and technology, I now have Skype and a video camera. Yes, yes, I'm in the Peace Corps. I should be living in a hole in the ground... blah blah blah. I am hooked up! If you have Skype or anything and want to talk to me, let me know.
As a closing to this post, I will randomly update you on the weather –which is still moody. We’ll have a hot day, and then it will rain, or it will rain in the morning and fog up, and then the sun will come out for a while, and then it will rain again. I love the weather. As long as it’s not snowing, I’m not complaining.
As a post-closing to this post, I will remind you all that I am running a marathon this November. Do you remember that? And I need your support! Is that anything new? Join me in my endeavor to true greatness/insanity! And give money to cute little Bulgarian scouts! Click here to read and donate! Are you really going to say "no" to this face?

By a reservoir in Dospat Posted by Picasa

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