Monday, December 01, 2008

One Last Ditch Effort

Welcome to my 250th post. Can you believe it? Two hundred and fifty posts. I'm writing this under the influence of 200 grams of rakia. Should be awesome.
Thursday was Thanksgiving - for those of you who may not know.... During the morning, I was here with Greg and his girlfriend. We went to Dunkin Donuts for some bagel sandwiches in the early afternoon. They then left for Dimitrovgrad to visit the girlfriend's parents. Angel showed up later in the day, and we went for Indian food. After attempting to call my family several dozen times (they thought their phone was going crazy and actually called the phone company, but I think Skype/Greg's computer was on the fritz), I finally got through to my Grandma's house. It was nice to talk to them. My grandma gave me good advice: "Don't be so hard on yourself." My uncle "Ra-Ra" actually had the best comment of all:
Rob: What are you doing for Thanksgiving?
Apryl: Well, actually, it's past mid-night here, so it's technically no longer Thanksgiving, but I went and ate Indian food.
Rob: Let me get this straight: For an American holiday, you celebrated in Bulgaria by going for Indian food.
Apryl: (laughs) Exactly.
It was an international holiday. At least I wasn't alone, and that's the important thing. There were other English-speakers in the restaurant. It wasn't so bad.
My colleagues called me to wish my a happy Thanksgiving. They were eating a cake that the new volunteer had made. Ani asked why I didn't come over and hang out with them. Honestly, I don't have much time anymore. But even if I did, how lame is it to say "good-bye" and then say, "Oh, psych!" and show up again. Lame! That's why I didn't even really entertain the idea a couple weeks ago. I almost saw Yanko this week, but it didn't work out. He says that he's going to come to the airport to see me off, but I find that kind of a stretch. Ani and Reneta both had birthdays this week, and I called them. I'm here, but I'm not here. It's so weird. It's hard to admit to people that I'm still in Sofia, 'cause it doesn't really make sense - to either them or me.
I took an "I'm depressed - again, so I'm doing nothing - again" day on Friday. I was supposed to go to Plovdiv and meet my "sister," but I decided to just hang out in Sofia. I had the place to myself, and it was nice. I didn't feel well, and I didn't feel like going anywhere.
On Saturday, in the afternoon, I went to Plovdiv to meet my sister so that we could go to Kurdjali. We hadn't made concrete plans, but, fortunately, we found a bus. I used "Couchsurfing" once again, and we connected with a great host. Rado came to pick us up at the bus station, and he took us to his place so we could meet his parents and drop off our stuff. Afterwards, he and a friend of his took us on a night tour of Kurdjali. The town is a really great place. Vili and I had never been there before, so it was interesting for both of us. Plus, we had really great and talkative tour guides.
Rado then took us to a traditional Bulgarian restaurant to meet up with some more friends and listen to live music - again provided by people he knows. The food was great, we danced various horos, and they even sang "Hotel California," in my honor - at which point one of the guys at the table asked me to dance. Plus, my Bulgarian was complimented endlessly throughout the whole weekend. I couldn't have asked for more.
The next day, Rado was gracious enough to take my "sister" and I to Perperikon. We had planned not to disturb him. We had said good-bye to his parents and everything (without waking him), but he chased us down as we were leaving the house, and he informed us that he would be hanging out with us - if we accepted the pleasure of his company. Fantastic.
Perperikon is about 20 km from Kurdjali, and there are no buses there, so it was really awesome to get the ride and the personal tour guide. We walked around the ruins and took myriads of pictures.
Afterward, we visited a monastery in Kurdjali and then went to a restaurant that was sitting out on Lake Kardjali. The lake was absolutely beautiful and very calm. You could even feel the restaurant bobbing a bit. Plus, you could see fishermen catching and slaughtering fish out the windows. Haha. It had a great atmosphere.
We then went to a coffee shop that had an interesting interior and various flavors of thick hot chocolate. Then Vili and I caught a bus back to Plovdiv. It was the first trip that I've taken with my "sister." I honestly hope that it's not the last. We had a great time.
I then accompanied Vili back to Trud. We ate dinner, and then we slept for hours. It was great. My host dad asked me if I'd returned from America. We joked about that for a while. My host mom made my favorite Bulgarian dish, peppers stuffed with seasoned rice, and we looked at pictures from our trip. Plus, my host niece was running around and being cute. It was nice to be with them once again. I hung out with Vili at the salon where she works, and then she and a friend dropped me off at the bus station. It was difficult to say "good-bye" to her, because we honestly don't know if this will be the end. She's thinking about coming to Ireland with me for a couple of days, but that's a stretch. I have to check some things here on the internet, but I honestly doubt it will work out. It's worth a try though. Other than the company, it would be nice to have an extra "pack-mule" for my luggage. No, really. Her company would be awesome to have.
I got back to Sofia this evening. Greg and I went out for my last, Bulgarian meal. He treated me to a couple of rakias. Awesome.
So, I'm leaving for Ireland tomorrow. In 24 hours, I'll be in Dublin. I can't believe I'm actually leaving Bulgaria for who-knows-how-long. It's been so hard for me to go. I imagine, however, that it'll be like every other "good-bye:" unreal. I haven't come to terms with the fact that I've been saying "сбогом" to people here. Many have the feeling that they'll be seeing me again, and I have that feeling, too. There are so many other places in the world to visit before I come back, but I might be back regardless. After three years, it's hard to leave a second (or third) home, saying it's "forever." That just seems absurd. In the meantime, I should set this aside and welcome a new adventure with open arms.

P.S. By the way, the "saga of the painting I [sent] to the states" has taken a turn for the inevitable, that's-what-makes-this-story-so-good, worst: It hasn't turned up stateside, and it was supposed to be there two weeks ago. Of course! Should I have expected anything less? Grrr and double grrr....

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