Thursday, December 13, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Коледа

I got hit on.  Finally.
Christmas has come to Plovdiv, and there are lights everywhere.  Some decorations are pretty, and some are glowing orbs of ugly.  To be fair, most are in good taste.  There's even a small Christkindlmarkt in the center. I was admiring some miniature (severely overpriced) Christmas trees along the main boulevard.  One of our volunteer coordinators had the idea to ask the municipality to buy these trees for the local technical high schools.  Then the schools - for fun and as a kind of advertisement - would decorate their tree according to the specialization of their school.  So the automotive school attached toy cars to their tree.  The fashion design school turned their tree into a doll in a dress.  The school that deals with electronics put circuit boards and pipes on their tree.  And the food technology school put carrots and plastic plates with pictures on their tree.  You get the idea.
I was admiring the twelve trees when a guy came up and said he would sell me one for cheap.  He asked me what it would take to ask a girl like me out without seeming too impertinent.  I teased him that us Californian like flowers.  It's almost too bad that I convinced him to "make like a tree" (and leave, get it?) because he was cute!  Oh well.
Work has started to get a little bit better.  I was finally able to sit down with the head of the organization, aka my boss, and get her personal attention.  I shared with her some of the ideas that had been marinating in my head, and she liked them.  And suddenly I have four or five different projects with different levels of priority to work on.  It feels good to be busy, but more so to feel as though you're adding value.
The weekend before last, the volunteers at my organization organized an educational initiative for December 1st (World AIDS Day).  Volunteers gave out red ribbons and hugs, had pedestrians attempt to properly place a condom on a plastic model, engaged passersby in Jeopardy!-like games, passed out informational pamphlets, and spontaneously "attacked" other volunteers with HIV and AIDS until the "Condom Militia" came and "saved" them.  It was all quite festive.  Later that evening, I joined some of the volunteers for local outreach at a cafe.  Then I went with them to a discotheque for a charity campaign to collect funds for a boy who needs constant physical therapy.  It was a busy day.
December 5th is the UN-designated International Volunteer Day, but we celebrated the Sunday before.  Again, it was a festive program with games, prizes, music, dancing, and, most importantly, cake.  We were also celebrating 13 years of NAVA - the organization I work with, so it was celebratory all around.
I still get together frequently with my favorite people in Plovdiv:  Angel and Vili.  My organization is hosting a Peace Corps training, and there is an American Christmas/birthday party this weekend, so it will be a busy yet fun one. 
I'm going to The Netherlands next week to visit a dear friend and her family.  I'm so looking forward to it.  It'll be nice to get away for a bit.
I've also met a cute Hungarian.  Good looking people, rewarding work, upcoming vacations, time with friends, and a festive mood in the air.  So many reasons to be jolly.