Monday, November 19, 2007

All About the Benjamins - or the Levskis

So, the past few days have been more running around and getting things done. I'm currently sitting in the Peace Corps office watching the snow fall outside. T-minus 14 hours until flight time. Telling you I'm excited would be an understatement. I can't stop smiling. Twenty hours of traveling is going to bite the big one, though. I'm not looking forward to that - but the ends more than justify the means in this case.
This weekend was a little frustrating, but it worked out all right in the end. I came to Sofia on Friday to go to the dentist and get some medical stuff done. I also had a few chats with some people on PC staff. I called a taxi about an hour before my last bus that evening. The guy came after half an hour. I had pretty much given up, but hopped in anyway. We immediately hit traffic, and I asked him if there was any point trying to make my bus. I asked him to drive me to a hostel, but we hit more traffic, and I had him let me out. Twelve leva for nothing. In the meantime, he put on a television show and was flicking back and forth between channels with a remote. Awesome.
On Saturday, I went to Plovdiv. I was ready to go home pretty early in the day, but I was still waiting for Vili (my host sister) to show up to hang out. Once she did show up, she convinced me to stay the night in Trud. Nellie (my host cousin) came over, and we had a great time hanging out.
*Randomly, I learned some interesting Bulgarian sayings from Vili and Nellie and shared ones they found amusing. For example: I told them we have "raining like cats and dogs," they told me one that's like "it's pouring buckets," and we all agreed the Bulgarian one makes more sense. They thought it was hilarious and said they were going to say "It's raining like cats and dogs" from now on. They started saying things like, "It's blowing like cats and dogs," or "It's windy like roosters and hens." Those silly girls.
I also told them that my Grandma used to say "The devil is beating his wife" when it would rain while the sun was shining. They said the Bulgarian version is "The bears are marrying." So, in this instance, both languages make no sense. They really liked my Grandma's version though. Maybe they'll use that one from now on as well.
The next day, my family was planning on making me my favorite Bulgarian dish (stuffed peppers) for lunch, but I told them I had to go. Disappointing to say the least. Vili, Veska (host sister-in-law), and I went to Plovdiv so I could catch a bus.
Last night I met up with Valia, Ani, Maria, Reneta, Sashko, and Janette for some quality time before I left. I later met up with Angel for a walk in the drizzling rain. This morning, I saw Yanko, Enyo, and a few other people. (Enyo drove me to Velingrad.) Everyone's been so nice. They've been filling my luggage with gifts for the people in the states. If you could weigh "pozdravi" (greetings), I'd have a ton to carry with me. It's such an exciting time. It makes it easier to know that I'll be coming back.
So, I'm in the office again today. Staff is wishing me safe travels; they're giving me money for travel allowances, re-adjustment allowances, etc., and it's nice. Other than that, I've been getting shots, and that's not so nice.
An interesting thing happened to me on my way back to Rakitovo from Plovdiv yesterday. I was waiting at a bus stop for my bus to Rakitovo, and a gentleman invited me in to enjoy the heater at his local magazine. I've talked to this gentleman a few times before, and he's always been so nice. Yesterday, he started talking to me about Communism and how things were so much better during those days. He asked me what my opinion was, and I just told him that I haven't lived under Communism, so I really couldn't compare. He knows I'm from the states. He then started talking about how America needed to help Bulgaria out more - to restore order and control here... to make sure the Democratic process is working. I didn't say this, but I just thought it's interesting to me the mentality that an outsider needs to come take care of these things. How responsible are we, as people, for making sure that our government mechanisms work appropriately? What should we do when we think they don't? Should we wait for another government to come in and tell our government how they should run things? It's just interesting to think about. What should America's role be? How much should they be involved? It's a definite question considering the recent elections, and how democracy was up for sale this time around in a lot of places. There are even rumors that some paid for votes with false money. How crazy is that?
Anyway, I got so involved listening to this guy, that I missed my bus, and I had to wait another hour for another one. I was so mad! I had things I needed to do! Anyway, he sat me down, asked me what he should "cherpa" me (treat me to), and he brought around "boza" (a drink you REALLY have to develop a taste for - which I haven't!) and "vafla" even though I insisted I didn't want anything. You can't escape Bulgarian hospitality.
We then got into a conversation about how much money I make. I really dislike these conversations. Plus, we had an audience. I really dislike these conversations in front of an audience. I was asked how I like the Roma, but fortunately that was a short conversation. I just wanted my bus to come! Repeatedly, he made me promise to come back so I can meet his grandson. Ah, Bulgaria. I will miss you, but I will enjoy the break.


Anonymous said...

have a safe trip - watch out for the two-headed snowmen lurking in Sacramento...!

vassi said...

Have a wonderful time in the states, Apryl! YOu deserve a good break and some quality time with your fam. I've been getting both since COS and it's good :)
Take care,

Andrew! said...

interesting that the guy was all for communism and then thought there needed to be a bigger helping hand to get democracy on it's feet. and by bigger helping hand, i mean deeper pockets. good question for you to ask him next time is the development process in germany after wwii - germany was bombed all to crap and they had to build themselves up from scratch. what's the financial support difference between what we gave germany and what we've given bulgaria? how long did it take germany to become one of the strongest economic powers in europe - and how long will it take bulgaria?!? that ought to get you out of his store and onto your bus a bit quicker!