Thursday, November 02, 2006
Rila Monastery in Autumn
"Happy First Snow!" That's what one of my beginning students said to me (in English!) tonight as we looked out the window and saw little flakes fall to the ground and turn to slush. I certainly wasn't happy.
And the world turns around. Time marches on. Snow falls. Bleh. I hate it. I'm not ready for the winter wonderland to come back. My mom cut out of here yesterday - just in time to miss the first snowfall. Lucky girl. I wish she had packed me back to sunny California with her.
We had a good time together. This last week, we went to the Rila Monastery - probably the most famous and beautiful monastery in the country. We detoured a little bit to get there, but it ended up working out and everything went great. We decided to stay at the monastery, and were fortunate enough to get the last room (with a bunch of other empty beds - which was weird to say the least, but a good experience nonetheless). The scenery was absolutely spectacular. As you have probably noticed, it's fall over here in Bulgaria (with winter quickly nipping at its heels) and the trees are gorgeous. Rila Monastery is up in a breathtaking, isolated part of the country, and it's surrounded by hills, trees, and rushing streams. It's an idyllic location to say the least. We spent a couple days up there, roaming around and eating good pastries made by the monks.
This week has been pretty good. I just show up at the center in the afternoon to have some English classes. The kids seem to really enjoy it - which is important. The also adored having my mom around. They would go out and play football with her, and sometimes I would get out there too and try to explain to them how to play. They loved saying "hike" and taking turns being quarterback, blocking, and rushing. Nothing says autumn like falling into a bunch of colored leaves with a football in your hands. One girl was cute in particular. After the other team would score a goal, she would ask me, "Did we win?" I laughed, "No." Then she would proceed to yell and gesture at the other team. It was awesome.
I biasedly believe all my students are all so smart. They already know "What's your name? Where are you from? Nice to meet you." and then numbers 1-10. We play a lot of games, and I think that maintains their interest. They miss my mom though. Many have asked me where she went and one even told me he missed her. Maybe she should have stayed and I could have gone home. Hehehe. Anyway, we've got a long way to go, but that's a really good start for about the first week. Now I'm going to have to leave them for a bit, and I hope they retain what we've learned. Also, I'm staying until about 7 o'clock (or later) every evening, trying to accomodate everyone. That's not going to happen anymore. People are getting dropped. Those who haven't bothered to show up so far will find themselves out of a place. This will mean that I can fill those spots with computer classes! Joy! The computer guy finally showed up - all apologetic. He's not a bad guy. I guess he's just overwhelmed. Well, anyway, he finally came, and now our computers are ready for the internet, etc. The kids keep asking me if they're ready, and hopefully soon I'll be able to tell them, "Yes!"
Yes, people, it's that time. I'm finally leaving for this illustrious marathon I've mentioned a few times on this blog. I went for my last run this morning. I love jogging and looking at the hills that surround me. They're lit up with dazzling colors from dying leaves and an eerie fog. I wish I could share it with all of you. I'm going to Athens tomorrow to try and run 42.2 km (26.2 miles) on Sunday. I don't know if I'm going to make it. I swear I have to be the lasiest marathon trainee ever! But I'm going to try. If I drag my weary body across that finish line, it'll mean I'll never have to do anything like this again! Speaking of which, yes, this is a fundraiser. Here is another draft of a letter I've put together to ask for your money:
Dear friends & family,
This Sunday, I am running a marathon. Why? For glory, prestige, and just to see if I can do it. So one day, I can be sitting somewhere, and I can turn to the handsome guy next to me and say, "You know, I once ran a marathon." And then he will say, "Oh, my stars! You are the most amazing girl I have ever met. I am wealthy and need someone to spend my money. Marry me this instant!" And we will live happily ever after.
Delusions aside, I really am running a marathon... this Sunday! I leave tomorrow for Athens, Greece. Yipee! Other than just seeing if I can drag my body a staggering 26.2 miles, I am also doing this with some other Peace Corps Volunteers to support Bulgarian Scouts. Scouts. You know, those cute, little munchkins that learn to tie knots and read compasses - the ones that learn discipline and skills to help them lead a better life. Yeah. I'm running for the kids. Some of them are dying to attend an International Scouting Jamboree in the summer of 2007, but they're poor, and need outside monetary support. They would be unable to go otherwise. So, besides personal glory, this marathon is a fundraiser for them.
This is where you come in! Please support my efforts! Donate $1 (or more - if you have the spare change) and, while supporting me in a once-in-a-lifetime experience (believe me, I don't plan on running another marathon... ever!), help the scouts go to a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
How do you donate? Simple. First, go to this website:
After that, in the first drop down box, select "Scouting in the European Region." Then, select the currency you would like to donate in. Afterwards, in the message section, message something like this:
This donation is going to support Bulgarian Scouts who will be attending the World Scout Jamboree 2007. It has been given in connection to the fundraiser sponsored by Peace Corps Bulgaria Volunteers who are running a marathon in Athens, Greece. This donation is given by (insert your name here) on behalf of Apryl Gibson.
You can say whatever you like, but it's important that you mention the World Scout Jamboree 2007 and that it's going for Bulgarian scouts supported by the Athens Marathon.
A marathon is a really long way to go - and your donation will mean SO much to these kids. I would really really really appreciate it if you would find it in your heart to donate any change you can spare.
Run or Die!
P.S. It's snowing here for heaven's sake! Send me some love as I escape this freezing wasteland for some self-sacrifice in Athens.