Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Friend, Murphy

I've been having a good weekend, and I'm sorry to see this week come. This week is going to be... heavy. I don't know how else to describe it. My colleagues get back to the office tomorrow. (I was liking the whole, just Apryl and Yanko = work gets done, it's quiet, we go home early dynamic.) It's going to be chaos. Yanko is leaving tomorrow for Dupnitsa with Peace Corps-related work. He meets the new volunteer on Tuesday. He brings her back for us to meet her on Wednesday. She will be with us until Friday. My microcosm will be changed irrevocably. (sigh) That's part of the reason why I want it to still be Sunday.
On Friday evening, I went to a colleague's wedding. Silvia and Yanko (not my boss) have been "married" for quite sometime. They just never went through the whole "sha-bang" that goes along with a wedding. I bought a gift and went up to the mahala. I ate, I danced horo, I talked with people. It was great. I also saw a tradition which I had heard about, but never stayed late enough to witness. The bride's mother and her mother-in-law paint her hands and wrap them in cotton. Then, people place money in her hands. The money is wrapped in cotton, and the bride looks like a boxer. She's supposed to sleep like that all night, but I don't know if anyone does anymore.
The next day, I went and helped clean the grounds of a historical chapel here in Rakitovo. I think the original ruins are from the seventh century sometime. There's also a modern sanctuary on the site. Unfortunately, no one in town has taken the responsibility to care for this church, so the grounds have fallen into disrepair. A group of people took it on themselves to clean it up so that it can be open on a daily, or at least weekly basis. Wow. Awesome. Loving it. Best idea ever. So, I said I would help.
I spent the morning clearing brush and raking debris. We got a lot done with the good team that we had. I was just loving the idea that a group of Bulgarians in Rakitovo had gotten together and said, "This is important. It's up to us to do this - even if no one else takes notice." Wow. Awesome. Loving it. Best idea ever. What was interesting was trying to explain that to others. I saw some of my baseball boys, and they tried to get me to ditch out and play baseball. "Why do you have to do this? Who's making you?" "No one." "Huh? Then why are you doing it?" I mentioned to some other people what I had done, and I got the same questions, "Why did you do that? Who was making you?" They thought I was crazy for doing it voluntarily. Bulgaria has a lot to learn in the field of volunteerism.
I met some really great people yesterday. We just lamented how it's too bad we're just now getting to know each other - when I'm leaving so soon. Ah well, that's life somtimes. We already have plans to take a couple trips later in September to visit some landmarks in the region, so we'll get to hang out. Plus, I can introduce them to the new volunteer, and maybe they can all work on some projects together. Good stuff. These things happen for a reason. Or, maybe it's just Murphy's Law.
Yesterday was a busy day. After the church clean-up, I went for the next round of Silvia and Yanko's wedding. The first day of festivities takes place at the bride's house. The next day is symbolic of the groom taking the bride to his house. He comes and gets her, and they go to his parent's house with truckloads of gifts. There was a bit of free-time, so I hung out with my friend, Fanka, and her boyfriend. I had a good time talking a bit with them at a cafe. Once the bride was at the groom's house, we took pictures. Then, we decided to ditch out on the later festivities because there was a concert in Velingrad.
Slavi Trifonov is Bulgarian's showman extraordinaire. I would compare him to David Letterman because he has his own late night show where he has comedy routines and hosts guests, but he also sings and participates in the role of judge in various reality contests. Last night, he was in Velingrad with his "Ku-Ku Band." It was a lot of fun. I have always admired Slavi for sometime because he's a multi-talented man. I admire him more now because he's adept at surrounding himself with people who make him look good. He also showcases a variety of talent and knows how to share the spotlight with others. This is what I admire about him. He knows how to make himself look good and, in turn, make everyone else around him look good as well.... Well, except for the half-naked women, but they can dance. This is talent. I also saw a lot of people from Rakitovo there.
Today, I spent most of the time hanging out at home. I really enjoy taking a day just to myself - staying inside in the morning. I've gotten into a habit: I'll eat a late breakfast (seasoned potatoes and eggs with tomatoes, leutenitsa, and ketchup, and Kona coffee with chocolate powder mixed in), and just hang out in my pajamas. Can life get any better than that? It's my time. So, that's what I did today. I went out later this evening because there was a "Gorski Ball," which consisted of music and various girls competing for the title of "Miss Rakitovo Municipality." I also had the opportunity to meet a couple American missionaries who recently moved to Velingrad and found me through a contact who actually reads this blog. Crazy, huh? They're a great, young couple who have a three-month-old daughter. They're looking to work with the Roma and Bulgarian-Muslim populations here in Rakitovo. I had them meet my boss, and then I went back to Velingrad with them to chat a bit. They'll be coming out on Tuesday because the guy would like to play some baseball.
It's so crazy to be meeting such great people so late in my service. It makes me sad to being going back to the states. Meeting super people makes me excited and gets me idealistic again. Oh well. More people to introduce to the next volunteer.
The weather has taken a turn this past week. It's getting cooler in the evenings, and night comes on earlier. It's starting to get dark when I get back from baseball. Dusk descends on us as we're walking back to the mahala. It's sad. Dusk is falling on everything I'm doing here. Well, dusk brings a new dawn. It's just a matter of living through the night.
I had an interesting experience at baseball last time. A crotchety old woman chased us off, so we went to some nearby fields and played a bunch of other games. Later, the keeper of the stadium came and asked why I wasn't playing in the stadium. It was the first time he came and tried to make sure I was okay. "Why aren't you in the stadium? You should be playing there." I told him that the meanest women in Rakitovo had run me off. No, I didn't say that. I should have, though. This lady looks like she was born to hate everything and everyone. She goes around cursing kids all day long. It's almost to the point of comedy. I've never seen anyone so crotchety. I almost feel sorry for her. How does someone survive with so much bitterness? Anyway, the stadium keeper was engaging me 'cause he wanted to know if I was still offering computer classes. I've been getting a lot of questions about computer classes lately. It's times like this when I'm glad to smile, shrug my shoulders and say, "Sorry. I'm leaving in two months."
There were a few other things that I wanted to share, but they'll have to wait for another time. I'm tired, and I'm going to have to go to bed. As for this week, I'm just going to have to suck it up and face it.

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