Friday, October 27, 2006

Milestones and Rushing Water

Life has a lot of milestones, and there are a lot of milestones here in Peace Corps Bulgaria. I guess it depends on how you measure time and count what's important to you. I've seen PCVs keep online countdowns of how many years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds it will take until they finally close out their service. Time is a lovely phenomenon. It's astounding, really. It can heal wounds, change tides, bring pain, cause unexpected moments. The only thing it cannot do is be wound backwards. What's done is done. That can be especially painful. But anyway, today marks a year ago that I swore in and moved to Rakitovo. Yes, officially as of today, I have been a volunteer for a year - living in my tiny mountain town. Wow.
My mom and I went to visit "the family" this last weekend. I really wanted my mom to be able to meet the host family that I adore so much, and so we were able to stay with them for a couple days. Before going to the house, we decided to stop in Plovdiv and hang out for a while. My mom suggested that we get something to eat because she thought it rude to show up hungry at my "family's" doorstep. We had a very nice early lunch and then went on over to Trud. My family was so excited to see me and meet my mom. My host mom gave me a hug that almost broke my neck, and then they rushed us off to my old room to settle in... announcing that they had made my favorite traditional dish (red peppers stuffed with rice) and we'd better be hungry. My mom went out in the living room with them, and they immediately started to try and talk to her. "Oh wait, we need Apryl." I came in, and we had a fairly nice chat to catch up on what's been going on. I felt badly for my mom. I could translate for her, but she was still pretty much out-of-the-loop as to what was going on. She didn't seem to mind though. I remember being that way and just kinda letting the family do whatever they wanted with me. Sure enough, in no time we were eating again. My host mother was very upset to learn that we had eaten before we arrived. I tried to tell her that I knew the protocol: Show up hungry. My mom was to blame. Hehehe. We were stuffed to the brim the whole time we were there. Mom and I wouldn't have time to digest a meal before they were trying to get us to eat again. It was crazy! I think they wish we had eaten more. We never gorged ourselves enough to satisfy my host mom.
The first evening, they took us out to the old city in Plovdiv. I've been there many times, but I never get tired of it. It's a beautiful place, and it was especially gorgeous with the colored and changing leaves falling from the trees. My mom, Donka - my host mother, my "sister" Vili, my "cousin" Nellie, and I did quite a bit of walking that evening just taking in the sites of Plovdiv. The next day, after a lazy morning of homemade craps with homemade jams, we went up to the Bachkov Monastery - a little less than an hour away. It was beautiful up there... leading up to the Rhodope mountains and a beautiful waterfall. The monastery itself was ornate and beautiful with light cutting at sharp angles through the windows. We didn't spend long there, and then came back to Trud from lunch at the famous "Station" cafe (where I used to go just about every day during training) and some quick time at "home" again for a haircut and some picture swapping. Then my mom and I caught a bus back to Velingrad and home. It was a nice trip, and I'm really glad they got to meet.
This week has been pretty insane. I've started my English classes, and on paper I have sixty students. These include both children and adults. This was just the first week of sign-ups, and I still get kids asking every day if they can join. There are also kids that keep coming and asking when computer classes are going to start. Unfortunately, the computers aren't ready yet. We're still waiting on that guy to come and finish the job. Don't even get me started on that.... But, it's kind of a blessing in disguise because I'm supposed to be teaching computer classes, and I have no time at this point. I have seven English groups that meet twice a week and one more advanced student who really needs to meet with me everyday if he wants to progress. So, I'm at the center from 2-7 and have classes everyday for an hour at a time from 3-7. Four groups - every day for an hour. What have I gotten myself into? I can't keep up this pace. I don't even LIKE teaching English.
I'm having fun for now though. The kids are great. They're into it for the moment and are catching on pretty quickly. The adults are pretty good, too. I even taught some kids a bit of American football yesterday. It felt great playing out in the sunshine and the autumn leaves. My mom seems to like it, too. The kids have taken to her and she does a good job making sure they don't pester my classes or get too out of control in the center. She's an invaluable resource up there for the time-being. I don't know what I'm going to do when she's not there.
Okay, well, anyway, this isn't going to keep up like this. The water is gathering around, and it's not going to swallow me whole. A lot of the kids that originally signed up aren't even showing up anyway. So they have another week. After that, I'm crossing names off the list and combining groups. I refuse to teach English every day from 3-7. There's a reason I'm not a TEFL volunteer. And even if I'm busy from these hours in the center, I'm going to have to cut back my hours in the office. Something's going to have to give. I just hope my colleagues are all right with that. They've been acting kind of weird lately. It just seems like everyone's all tense and ready to go at each other's throats. More on that some other time. Right now, I'm going to go hang out with my mom.
Oh yeah! And the surprise party we had for her was great! She had no clue anything was up, and she got a lot of flowers and even some lipstick and perfume from my favorite kids. The food was excellent also. Plus, the kids immediately latched onto her like she was a shiny gem. It was a great night.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

Oh man, wish I could have snuck in your moms suitcase and been an extra surprise. Glad to hear you are still a bit home sick for us, that way we know you will come home to our oakee town to see us once in a while from your travils. Man I would travil just for the food. Hope I can some day, or atleast heaven will have all varrieties to choose from. I love spicy food. oh could you pick out a cook book for me? With all your favorites?(you don't have to buy it, just get the info so I can get it from Amazon)