Sunday, May 25, 2008

Escapades


I just got back from a rather fun weekend. I had to go to the Peace Corps office on Friday, so I stopped to talk with one of my Youth Development program managers. He said that he had just finished talking with an organization in Varna (on the other side of the country) who talked about how wonderful I am. I've heard of the organization. I'm pretty sure I've never met them, but I've heard of them. Glad to hear they think I'm a rock star.
After getting some medical stuff taken care of, I caught a bus to Sliven. Sliven is kind of in the middle, easternish part of the country, and there are quite a few volunteers there - with the 100% chance that they will get more! I went to visit Jamey, a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) volunteer and a B-19. His service is almost up, and it was a good weekend to visit.
We saw part of a Children's Folklore Festival on Friday night, and we went on a great hike up into the "Blue Rocks" on Saturday. It was a beautiful place to go hiking, and we treated ourselves to hot, freshly-baked bread at the top. To get back down, we used a chairlift. As I have never been snowskiing (something that I hope one day to rectify), I'd never used that type of chairlift before - where all your limbs are just hanging out in space. I'm pretty sure I've been on rides and things that are built on the same concept, but this was interesting. I loved it, but I got jittery whenever the chairs would shudder along the cable.
In the evening, we invited another volunteer over, and we had a wonderful night of Mexican food. We had salsa, guacamole, Spanish rice, beans, and tortilla chips. It was delicious. I think I could recreate it in my town - except for the guacamole and tortilla chips, unfortunately. I should have stolen the leftovers on my way out the door this morning.
My colleagues had a training workshop this weekend with the women's group, and I ran into them on the bus on the way home. They said the training went really well, and all the women had a good time. The training was about searching out and applying for funding. Maybe, in the future, the women's group can become an entity in its own right. That would be awesome.
Meanwhile, we've had a lot of work come through the office. It's a good thing, but it's also overwhelming for my colleagues. We heard on Friday that we've won another project. Some of my colleagues have been offered second jobs as well. Of course, they're tempted by the possiblity of making more money, but the workload is a killer. It's nice to have the opposite problem than the one we were facing just a few months ago - too little work. I think I mentioned (several posts back) that this would be a time of trial for my organization: they would either sink or swim. Well, they're practically walking on water. Thank God. But we need to hire more people and expand the office. I don't know if that's a possiblity at this point. Well, in a little over five months, I'll be freeing up some space. :) I don't think they're going to apply for another volunteer. I don't think that they need one. Yanko is still trying to tell me that I'll stay forever.
The Seniors graduated this weekend. The country has been a site of chaos as groups drive around honking horns and shouting the numbers one through twelve, in succession. I was invited to go to a couple senior dinners this week. They call it "the ball." They call pretty much the whole graduation process "the ball." I was also invited to a colleagues's sister's party. If I had been in town this weekend, I would have gone. I've seen (and been a part of) graduation events before. This time, I had already planned on getting away. I'm kind of sorry I missed the events, but it would have been a lot of formality and show anyway. I'm glad I got away.
The weather has been positively nuts. It continues to get hot for a bit and then cloud over and rain. We had a thunderstorm the other night that lasted all the way to mid-afternoon. I decided not to play baseball with my kids 'cause the weather was finicky, unpredictable, and the grass in the stadium would be wet. I'd really like to be able to have my kids play against other teams, but there's really not anyone in the region that I could get together with. Plus, I haven't gotten my act together to really make some things happen. We're just having fun. The other day, my pal Mitko said that baseball was his favorite sport. Apparently Reneta drew a picture, for a drawing contest related to the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, of a baseball team comprised of players of different ethnicities. Oh, baseball fever.
I was at one of the schools the other day to take pictures for my colleagues. They were presenting awards for the essay and drawing contest that I mentioned above. The school director introduced all of us, and she thanked me for being there - to teach the kids English. Huh? And then all the kids broke out into applause. I felt awkward. Applauding for me is embarrasing enough. Applauding for me for something I haven't done for them was just downright strange. I taught English at that school for one day - due to a bunch of misunderstanding and red tape - and my efforts should be applauded? I think it was just that the kids know me, and so they felt it was appropriate to show their appreciation for me. I was overwhelmed and wanted to hide, but I admit that I was grateful for the attention.

This is for my grandpa's enjoyment. He's always tormenting me by sending me stories and pictures of his latest, delicious "experiment" in Mexican cuisine.
Isn't that a thing of beauty?

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