Thursday, December 18, 2008

Kavarna is a beautiful town. I love it. Can't get enough of it. The only glaring problem I find is the noticeable lack of street signs. To get anywhere I have to rely on something much greater than signs...rock stars. Sit back, put on some classic tunes (preferably anyone who was popular 20 years ago, dust off your leather jacket and enjoy.

From Seattle to Orange County to Buffalo to Tena, hope all is well.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Balto 2008

Thanksgiving: A time to be with family, a time to celebrate the blessings in your life, a time to walk on the highway at 5 in the morning...well, only in Bulgarian.
This weekend was my fist Thanksgiving in a foriegn country, and my first doing battle with Bulgarian transportation. So far, I have been lucky, and every trip I've done on has involved a direct route and no real problems. This weekend, BG got the better of TH Hewitt. Here is a play by play of my trip:

Friday 7pm: Take the last bus to Varna, 3rd biggest city in Bulgaria, with the goal of taking a night bus to Yablanitsa. The bus leaves at 11:45pm, which gives me enough yime to catch a movie, buy 11 cheeseburgers for thanksgiving, and leave in a timely manner.
Friday 10:45pm: Saw "Body of Lies" and left wanting to work for the CIA. My backpack is now full of cheesesburgers and I am certain my sweatshirt will smell of McDonald's for the next 2 years.
Friday 11:15: I realize any bus stop past 9pm is really shady and not a fun place to be.
Friday 11:40: I leap onto the bus as soon as the doors open. Cheeseburgers still warm.
Saturday 4:45am: A bus attendant tells me my stop is 15 minutes away. I am slightly dissapointed I won't be able to see the end of "Death Race" because I know the third act will really pull everything together.
Saturday 5:00-5:09am: I see a giant sign for Yablanitsa. I see another. And the bus keeps moving. And keeps going....and going. Yablanitsa signs have been replaces by road signs indicating Sophia is 62 km away. I tell the bus driver that Yablanitsa is (was) my stop. He looks at me, then tells me no problem.
Saturday 5:10am. The bus stops at a gas station and I am told "Its Yablanitsa". I get off the bus, and instantly the cold air attacks every inch of skin on my body. I know Yablanitsa is to my left, so I do what any reasonable person does; I start walking.
Saturday 5:12am. Two minutes into my journey, it starts to rain. Life is funny to me.
Saturday 5:47am: Life is not so funny.
Saturday 6:09am: I am now waling in a storm drain because on-coming traffic scares me.
Satrday 6:18am: I slip on something and eat it on a hill. My hands are numb so falling down leaves me indifferent at this point.
Saturday 6:32am: I start hallucinating. I tell myself I am on the modern day Iditarod, but now 10 mcdonald's cheeseburgers have replaced the diphtheria antitoxin
Saturday 6:47am: I start to question wheather or not I will be arrested for hitch-hiking. Every car now makes me incredibley paranoid.
Saturday 6:57am: I seriously debate eating all the cheeseburgers. I settle for one.
Saturday 7:00am: The most glorious sight I could behold; off ramp for Yablanitsa. I once again fall down a hill but I land at the bottom of a sign that reads "Sofia 80 km". I suddenly think back to the start of my journey...I have walked 18 km. Even though the comforting sign of Yablanitsa is in sight, I fail to read the bottom, which says '5km'.
Saturday 7:01am: As I summon my stenght to go another 5 km, a car begins to slow down behind me, and I hear the worst sound in the world: A police siren.
Saturday 7:01 +10 sec: :What will a Bulgarian prison be like, I wonder.
Saturday 7:02am: I am asked where I am going and what I am doing, all in Bulgarian. Luckily I make out the key phrase of "I am visiting a female friend" or preatilka. The police officer asks me her name. I say "Jenna", and then without a moment to pause he says "Jenna Back?". I say "yes" the most emphatically in my life. He tells me to get in the car, he will take me to her house.
Saturday 7:10am: I am walked to the door step of my friend's apartment, and given a hardy handshake and smile. The officer wishes me a nice day. I made it.

Life is funny sometimes

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Family Fun mInus the Family

Kavarna is home to my 14th favorite sports team, the Kaliakra Football Club, but by far my favorite division 2 Bulgarian soccer league team. Home games are spectacular, especially the game I went to with my Bulgarian tutor on saturday. Now, I have been to games in my 4 major sports, and nothing can compare. First, games are free if you show up early, parking is free and any liquid known to man can be brought in. The only real drawback to the game I went to was the weather; absolutely freezing cold, hurricane winds and pouring rain. I once went to a Seahawks home game in December and that seemed like Tampa in the summer compared to this. Luckily, Kalikra's faithful are treated to covered seats, but due to the harsh winds, only the back to rows were safe from the rain.
As both sides marched onto the field, the entire crowd erupted into a chant of "hiday!" which basically means "hurry up". And this really set the tone for future chants and taunts. I saw seemingly mild mannered older gentlemen transform into soccer hooligans in a manner of seconds. This nice man seated a few seats down from me, said hi in a very pleasant manner, but as soon as the first call went to other teams way, he was throwing down something about someone's mother. And on top of this, someone brought a megaphone and would sporadically yell random phrases, but we sounded like the old grizzled father on telemundo. If you've seen telemundo, you know what I'm talking about. And to top this off, when the line judge called Kaliakra off-sides, a man literally charged the fence to give me a piece of his mind before he had to be restrained by his buddies. First half was awesome, and I figured it would all be down hill for the next 45 minutes. I was both right and wrong about this prodiction.
Remember how I said it was freezing cold? Well, I assumed it was in the low fifties since earlier that day I went running in shorts and t-shirt. Well, it was much colder...much colder. At the 55 minute mark, with the rain still coming down in buckets, my tutor nudges my arm and says something that sounds like "snyak". I have no idea what this means, but he points up, and keeps saying it...and then I realize he is referring to the snow which has begun to fall. Freaking snow. My first thought is "Man, a soccer game is a horrible place to freeze to death" but then I start to notice how horrible it must be for everyone on the field. The poor ball boys are soon rescued by the team equipment manager who gives each one a team parka, which promptly hangs down to their ankles. One player on the other team is bravely wearing a short sleeve jersey, and snow has started to collect on this hair. When the ball is within 50 feet of him, he runs like the wind, just trying to stay warm. Pretty soon, the whole field in a white blanket, and the ball is barely indistinguishable. I can't feel my toes. The cigarette intake of the fans has risen from smoke every 5 minutes to every 30 seconds, but most people can only last 2 puffs, before their hands get too cold. My shoulders are now permanently hunched over. My tutor leans over to his friends and informs him I am from Orange County. This gets a huge laugh, and if you told me a year ago I would be freezing my butt off at a soccer match in north-eastern Bulgaria, I probably would of laughed too.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I am Peace Corps, and so Can You

Self-esteem problems? Not feeling up to your usual stands? Or maybe you just had a bad day. The cure all solution: Teach english to 4th graders in Bulgaria. I can not overstate this enough; teaching english to 4th graders in Bulgaria is like scoring a touchdown in the superbowl, getting prom king/queen, going to Disneyland with no lines. And all you have to do? Draw pictures of animals from Finding Nemo, write 3-digit numbers, and read a story that is 4 sentences long.
When I arrived to the classroom, there was pandimomium. Kids were literally pushing each other over to look at me. One girl just stared, and then all at once blurted out "Hi-bye-hello-howareyou-hi". The game plan for the days lesson consisted of learning about the weather, telling time and sea animals. Surfing came up too, and two boys wanted to show me what surfing looks like, and eventually I had 15 kids pretending to surf. Mid-way through my tutorial on sea-horses and sting rays, a little girl, Natalie, ran up to the teacher and whispered something, then ran back to her desk. The teacher then told me she really wants to tell me the months of the year. Natalie, who by this point was about to jump out of her seat with a mile-wide smile, stood up and said 12 months in under 4 seconds. When I said "dobre" ('good' in Bulgarian) she giggled and every hand in the class shot up with the hope of showing off their calendar skills. Other high points were the number game, and when I asked everyone to share their favorite food, the only two responses were "hot-dog" and "pizza", which always generated a laugh from the class.
I was about the leave, backpack on, when a swarm of kids swamped me, with everyone strangely silent. Then the teacher told me "They want you to come back". I played to the crowd, and did a greatly exaggerated thinking face. Paused a few seconds for effect. And then told them of course I'll be back, which held to an eruption of "yeahhh!!!!!!". Followed by kids actually dancing (seriously) and yelling my name (which was adorably pronounced as "Two-bee"). My self-esteem is through the roof.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Halloween in Bulgaria is kind of like 'Boxing Day' in America; a few people might know about it but no one really knows what it is about or would ever celebrate it. Unfortunetly for my well-being, Halloween is my favorite time of year and I am sorely lacking the haunted houses, ghoulish creatures and that one guy who still thinks it funny to be Borat. In an effort to bring some American culture to Kavarna, I had a pumpkin carving day, which was met with intrigue, excitement and enthusiasm. However, I tried to have one kid help me scoop out pumpkin guts and he looked ill, like he had just preformed an autopsy. So other than scooping out 13 pumpkins by myself, the children here all did a great job designing their pumpkins. And a local media outlet came to videotape the proceedings as well as interview the goofy american who came up with this idea. Unfortunetly, they decided to interview me when I was elbow deep in pumpkin and covered in orange ecto-plasam. I was told to hold a pumpkin the whole time, which just looked awkward. Plus I was interviewed in Bulgarian and as any B-24 PCV will atest to, my bulgarian language skills sound like a mix between mandarian and a computer.
I hope everyone else is having a great Halloween, filled with tons of candy, Halloween Oreos with the orange filling,...and monster fest on AMC, and Knott's Scary Farm,...and special Halloween episdoes of "Family Matters",...and cookies in the shape of a ghost or a bat, and,...well I should probably start there. Happy Halloween Everyone!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Best Day of Work So Far

My busy task of googling my own name of suddenly interupted by the director of my children's complex calling out "Tu-bee-us, Tu-bee-us!" I jumped into action and raced down the hall to see what was a-foot. Turns out the door to her office is jammed and they hoped I could McCyver it open. Unfortunetly, my skills are not what they should be and I proposed going in through the window, which also yeilded little succes since the door still would not open. Out of ideas and frustrated at the door's poor craftsmanship, I felt defeated. As I was about to tuck my tail between my legs and meander back to gmail, when one of my co-workers looked at me and said "Schwarzenegger". She then proceed to make the international sign for 'kick the door down' and pointed to me. Not wanting to jump the gun, and not quite believing my life-long goal of breaking down a door was about to materialize, all I could muster was a faint "kakvo?" (which means "what" in bulgarian). Then my co-worker said "Seagal, Stallone" and kept making a kicking motion. This was it; I was in. Two kicks later and BAM, that door went down like Liston in the 8th. And for the record, this is a true story, and I may or may not have muttered a "yippie-ki-yay".

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

While I have the opportunity, and the proper internet connection, here is a few pictures of my journey this far, plus, my long lost son.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I live next to a 30 foot mural of Billy Idol

If the subject line to this email isn't enough to garner your
interest,...then I guess 80's rock just isn't your thing. Swearing in
was on thursday, and it was amazing. Amazing and incredibley,
cripplingly, agonizingly nervracking. I gave the speech during the
ceremony, which by itself is no big deal; However to throw fuel to the
fire, I had to give the speech in my native tougne and my not so
native tougne, Bulgarian. AND the day
before my language trainer informs me that 7 news stations have been
invited, with the biggest (BTV) definetly attending. True Story;
after we have just taken a group picture, my languge trainer tells me
(and this is almost verbatum) "Don't worry about the BTV camera a few
feet in front of you. Really, its not that big of deal". I managed
to pull it off and even had a few tears in the audience (surely from
my emotion words, not my butchering of the english language). The US
Ambassador was very friendly, and when I get around to it, I will send
you the picture I have with her.
After a fun night in the capital city and a not-that-bad hostel
stay, it was off to my future life in Kavarna. My new apartment is
sweet. Its on the 5th floor, or as I will tell everyone "the
penthouse sweet". I live in a studio, with a good sized bathroom,
couch and bed, and a kitchen with tables and couch. Plus I have a
balcony, with came with a kitten who is one of three friends I have in
Kavarna. I have named him Special Agent Jack Bauer and he loves gasoline.
Life here is nice so far, but I have gone through my Simpson's
dvd's pretty quick. My landlord's daughter, who speaks a little
english and therefore always comes with my landlord to talk to me,
told me her favorite country is California. I thought that was nice.
There is a ton of nice restaurant's here. My personal favorite is
"Kakadu". Think of a Bulgarian CPK (plasma tvs, cool artwork and good
pizza). Went there my first night to watch the big game. Bulgaria
vs. Italy of course. Ordered a salad, awesome pasta, and two beers.
I thought I went overboard considering I'm on a fixed budget but when
the bill came, I owed 11 dollars. What a country.
To wrap this up, on my first day of work, I am told there is a
"Scout" meeting on friday and if I could lead it. I asked what I
should do and was told it was Scouts. And then I was given a Boy
Scouts book which was clearly written before Carter was in office. I
will let you all know how this goes.
-Tobias "With A Rebel Yell" Hewitt

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Long and Endless Road

10 weeks so soon? As I write this I have but 3 short days left in the busy world of village life. I will be departing my host family, and all the comforting emenities such as a washing machine, food, and lively conversation (or watching Survivor: Bulgaria during dinner). My Bulgarian language training has also drawn to a close but believe me when I say it will never really end. I have my final test on monday to see if I can actually comprehend this language. I have to place in the intermediate- low category. I see myself as more of a novice-advanced but time will tell. With the onslaught of winter set to hit Bulgaria way to soon, I've been working more and more with my host families winter food preparations aka picking an ungodly amount of potatoes. I've really started to get the hang of it, but thats probably because I am always given the most basic, rudamentary task. ("Tobias, can you pick up this and put it over there?").
Harvesting aside, I have been chosen by my fellow peace corps volunteers to give a speech at our swearing-in ceremony. Big honor and I will not dissapoint....until I found out I have to give my speech in english AND Bulgarian. Good times to come. My group's community project was designing a mural, incorporating a "welcome to...", the map of Bulgarian, the EU logo and the town's crest. Kids from the town helped to paint it and we also had face-painting, trash-pick up, introduction to the musical styling's of Jay-Z and lessons on how to throw a football. All-in-all a very successful day. So successful, the local news channel (Rilia) came to interview us. It was close to 50 degrees at the time but I felt compelled to wear my go-ing away present. Yes, it is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt that says "Say Yes to Pizza, Not Drugs" but I believe the youth of Bulgarian need to know where I stand on narcotics and delicious entres.
As I wrap this up, I would like to give a special shout out to an awesome person: Miss Emily Harper. All of Bulgaria is thinking about you (well, just the part of Bulgaria that went to Santa Margarita High School) and wishes you a speedy recovery!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Four things that will be explained in far greater detail next week:

What its like to be on Bulgarian TV
The fan experience during a small town soccer match
How Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Jay-Z and 2 liters of paint go together
An explanation of why next year could include Sylvester Stallone

Hope the school year is off to a great start and all those current graduates are watching some quality day-time television.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Play by Play of my Trip to Kavarna:

5:15: Wake up but only in a physical sense. Mentally I am still in imagination land, playing shuffle board with Alf.
8:06: After hour car ride to train station, and waiting around for awhile, first leg of journey begins with 2 hour train ride to Sofia.
8:08: Train stops unexpectedly. May or may not be because of a cow on the tracks.
10:35: Arrive in Sofia, run to catch the bus for Kavarna; asked if I speak French.
11:00: Bus leaves, and I am told it is only an 8 hour trip. I pass in and out of sleep, waking up to (in chronological order) Die Hard 4, The Big Lebowski, Hot Fuzz and a French film about pies to the face and imperialism.
7:35: The Black Sea is welcoming me as the bus finally reaches its destination.


My hotel room overlooks the sea, and there is only one other group of people in the entire hotel; a Russian female water polo team. For breakfast, and just about every other meal, I am the sole client for the restaurant staff. I am picked up at 10am on the dot, and am whisked away by a personal driver. First stop is the town center, which looks alot like down town Santa Monica, just with more capris. I am shown the Mayor's office (Tsonko Tsonnev is his christian name, by he goes by 'The Metal Mayor' for his love of Heavy Metal Music. More on that later). Introduced to numerous members of the municipality, and given chocolate repeatedly. The crem de la creme of the office is a gold record signed by all the members of Deep Purple. How many people have held a Deep Purple gold record? I assume its in the single digits. After a brief walk around the down-town, I am shown the excellent children's complex, which will function as my main work place. Rooms for art, fashion design, internet, board games and anything else I want to come up with. Staff is incredibley nice and I tell them how much I look forward to my new job.
Next stop is the sports complex and the stadium. I will split my time between the children's complex and the sport's complex. However, I take a tour of the table tennis warehouse, and I know instantly where the bulk of my time will be spent. The stadium of Kavarna can hold approx. 40,000 people for concerts and also is home to a professional soccer team. Decorating the gym walls in the sport's complex is various banners of past concerts. To name a few: Billy Idol, White Snake, Slayer, Motorhead, Manowar, and....Robert Plant. I still have to ask my counterpart if I am actually in the Peace Corps, or did I get rerouted to a parallel world.
Exhausting morning makes way for a lazy afternoon, the beach. The town of Kavarna sits on a hill 2 km from the beach, and 1km from an olympic sized pool. At the beach, I am asked "Are you wearing basketball shorts?" numerous times. I should be in euro-trunks by the end of 2009, tan willing. 3 minutes into swimming I realize I am out of shape and haven't been swimming in over half a year. After another 30 minutes of struggling to stay afloat, my counterpart makes a bold statement "You are white. Do you tan?" I tell him I have two years to work on it. Eventually I make my way back to the hotel, where I fall asleep watching RoboCop 2.
Next day I am in for a treat: there is a kickboxing tournament at the Sport's complex. I am asked sheepishly if I would like to go, as if my bougesoi tastes would be above to human beings kick the crap out of each other. I am in the car, ready to go before I can even respond with a resounding "yes". There are teams from everywhere in Bulgaria, with ages from (not kidding) 6 year olds to professionals in their late 20's. The little kids fighting are awesome. They have more padding than stuntmen, and three refs constantly monitor the fight, which seems to stop every time there is actual contact between the participants. Slightly strange then to see a boxing ring adjacent to these kids, where grown men are throwing right crosses, kicks to the abdomen, and generally destroying each other. The head of the tournament has a gym in Kavarna and asks, through my counterpart, if I would like to try kickboxing. Just then a man is knocked out cold on the canvas. I tell him I have to ask the peace corps, and then I pray it is against PC policy. My time's up. More to come. Go Dodgers

Monday, September 1, 2008

Just found out my permanent site: Go east, when you hit the sea, go up. There was only one spot on the Black Sea and out of nowhere I got it. Really did not see this coming, and I am pleasantly surprised. Lots of angry looks from my fellow PCV's. Apparently the town is awesome and town center is less than 2 km from the beach. Plus, and this is a huge plus, my new city is the Rock n Roll capital of Bulgaria. Black Sabbath, Slayer, Sting, Dio to name a few have all played there. Yes, the jealousy has begun. Here's a picture.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


I am not a sinner. Boastful? Blasphemous? Pretencious? Possibly, but here in Bulgaria my sin-free soul has been scientifically proven. At the awe-inspiring Rila Monastery, there is a cave about 3 miles away where a monk lived for 12 years with no physical immenities to test his devotion to God. What does this have to do with me? Well, you can go inside the cave (which is now more or less a shrine) and at the top is a whole. It is believed that only those who are free of sin can fit through the hole. Presto, instant weight off my mind.
My weekend excursion was a great experience and helped clear my mind of this impending monday: my permanent site, were I will spend the next 2 year,s is going to be announced. Will it be a big city? A small village? Will the people be nice? Will there be a 24 Hour Fitness? So many questions.
And to end on a positive, mystery-free note, I brought a little bit of college life to my small town. The picture is of my host father, Ascen and I. Good times.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Crazy couple of days here in the Bulg. 100 degree fever, a puppy bitting my toes off, learning that Bulgarian basketball is truly 'no blood, no foul', etc., etc. The little teddy bear in question is known as "Rocko", "Tobe", "Simba", "Quake", "Spiccoli", "Lil' Stamos" and "Jaws". I spent an hour and half with this guy and in no special order he chewed on my fingers, my toes, my shorts, my leg hair and my achilles. He started out not even go near humans, but in only a weeks time he is already coming up to me, playing with me and sending me christmas cards. The name situation is combination of what transfers to Bulgarian and his personality. "Jaws" seems very appropriate at the moment, but name suggestions are always welcome.
I have also begun my social integration with the youth of Bulgarian by regularly playing basketball with a few kids near my house. This is not like playing at the local Y. Court lines are different, nets are non-existent, and there are no rules. My limited vocabulary doesn't include "traveling, double-dribbling, 'hey, I think you just elbowed me in the face'". Games here include of volleyball style sets and full on tackles when you drive to the hoop. One of the kids, Mario, has a pretty nice grasp on English and he would ask me "Whats your favorite team, favorite player, where are you from" and I now have the nickname "Hollywood" (At least its not Goose).
And now the bad part of my week: a 38 degree fever!...celcius, which took me a while to figure out is around 100 degrees farenheit. I woke up after a horrible night of sweating, shivering and overall discomfort to inform my host dad "Polen", which means 'I'm sick'. He gave me a me a look, felt my burning forehead and said "Your're fine". But my pathetic look probably changed his mind and he took my temperature to be 38 celcius. I did the tried-and-true method of times by two and add 32, which gave me a temp of 108 which would probably mean I was dead. One Peace Corps medical kit later and my self diagnosis revealed a low-grade fever of 100. Luckily my fever broke pretty quick and I only wasted 9 hours of my day.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Hey Sports fans-

Some people find loose change in their house, others find their car keys. At my host family house, we found a puppy. In a room usually reserved for wood and other winter necessities, there was a puppy no bigger than my hand who looks a little like a cross between Balto and a sheep dog (pictures coming soon). I couldn't believe it. And no one really reacted to this treasure of adorableness. My parents, and their grandchild who was visiting for the day, looked at each, asked the bulgarian equivalent of "whats its name?". A slight pause, then "Two-bee"! Laughter all around, and my mark has been left on this great country.
What else is happening? Its really, really hot here and the finals for the women's air rifle competition was better than in 2004. HAVE A GOOD ONE

Monday, August 11, 2008

My host father Assen is a real character. To paint a picture in your head, imagine Mike Lopez at 63 and you have a pretty good foundation. Then mix in Jacque Cousteau's face, but Bulgarianized (really use your imagination). Finally, add kindness, humor and a great big ol' heart. Wait 63 years, and presto, Assen.

This is the greatest and best puppy in the world. And he lives next door to me. Thy name be Gina
And the little Tiger Woods is Christopher who refers to me as "Tooobe"

Tilling the Land

(I should be in the process of getting wireless access just about every monday, so every monday it is my hope but not my promise to update this)
Aug 7th, 2008

Today, I think I became a man. I went out to the fields and picked plums. Sound easy? Thats just the sheltered college educated young adult in you talking. How many times did you go to your job in a donkey chart? I'm guessing its in the ballpark of zero. Its a surreal experience going down the street by donkey-power. Add to the surrealness when other donkey charts stroll past you, and your preception as to whether or not this is Amish country begins to set in. From the brisk ride on our trusty steed, I arrive at a giant hay field. I freakin hate hay. I downed two claritins and told myself this was my vision quest. I popped another claritin. We come to a giant tree which dominates the field. I start thinking I'm going to have to call on my 7 year old climbing abilities but "come to find out" its time to get down and dirty. I spent close to an hour picking plums off the ground, which was covered in hay. The subtle sound of each plum returning to their fallen brotherin in my bucket almost made the hours fly by. My work was rather stationary as I couldn't move more than one of two steps for fear of crushing the bounty below us. I tired to make a game out of my toil: how not to look like a South-Orange County white boy. I think I changed a few minds but time will tell. And then it started to rain. And then there was lighting in the distance. But damnit, I wasn't going to quit. And then I found out we are going back tomorrow. However, everything was made worthwhile when it was discovered the purpose behind the plum picking actually was: all the plums are used to make a homemade liquer called Rikia. So, like the dream of all fraternities, my house will have a giant tub of alcohol made entirely within the premises. Bulgaria, how I love thee.

and here is my new address:

Tobias Hewitt
c/o Peace Corps
Zora Community Center
2 Nikolavska str. floor 3
2600 dupnitsa , bulgaria

Monday, August 4, 2008

Bulgarian TV

Today I watched Sonic the Hedgehog in Bulgarian. People might say "the Effiel Tower at sunset", climbing Mount Everest, or building a house but,...watching Sonic the Hedgehog in Bulgarian is something everyone should do before they die. Top of my Bucket list. And something that only I would find funny is that there are so many American tv shows over here, which were all cancelled prematurely. They advertise shows like "Kojak" (Ving Rhames version which lasted less than 1 full season) and Karen Sisco. Plus, Lunka and Assen both love watching tv with dinner, which makes meals seem a little less foriegn. The show of the moment is a Spanish soap opera dubbed in Bulgarian. I think I'm getting the plot, but I just can't figure out how Ivan managed to date Nikola's mom while at the same time arranging the accident which took his own brother's life? Must be a translation issue. But I did watch both Animal Planet, Galaxy Quest and A League of Their Own in English today. I wasn't being anti-social, but my family had to go to a funeral. And that my friends is how to end a blog on a positive note.

Host Familia

(I don't have internet at my house, but we have training which very conveniently has wireless, so pretend these entries are spaced apart)
I have met the human personifications of kindness and there names are Lunka and Assen, my host parents for the next 3 months. Both retired and both barely in their 60's, they love nothing more than to see me full with food. This is their 3rd time having a Peace Corps volunteer, and they are all smiles and big laughs. Only downside: they know zero English. (Well, Assen does know 'money' but he uses it to describe something that is crazy...I think). First night was strange but luckily everyone on their street came over to see me, and two boys, Victor and Chris (3 & 6) showed me their collection of race cars and Harry Potter cards. I am making friends already. Everyone here has been great, and one man asked me "Espanol?" and our interactions have consisted soeley of phrases I picked up from trips to Cancun and Puerta Varta. The pictures are pretty much self explantory but if you can't figure it out, use your imagination and come up with a magical tale.

First Couple Days

Upon landing in Sofia, the reality of 27 months became a little more vivid in my mind, but the countless American billboards dotting the airport created a strange sense of "am I really in Bulgaria, or did John Wayne Airport have a few retrogrades?" Our entire group was whisked away to a mountain retreat about an hour away from Sofia, and this place was magnificent. Retoric and rules were counter-balanced with excellent buffets and goregous hikes (so goregous that I broke my rainbow sandals trying to scale a mountain which was dotted by an abandoned chair-lift). Bonding took part largely around the ping-pong table or the bar (end record 11-1 and 2 beers) and I can say with confidence and earnst that this group is amazing. Everyone brings something new and exciting the B-24's and will make for a fun-filled 2 years. Also, in between Anchorman quotes and Mitch Hedberg jokes, the painful process of Bulgarian language lessons began. Luckily all the teachers here are incredibley friendly and very good at what they do. Patience will be key. The culmination of the "all-too-brief" training was a formal dinner complete with a Bulgarian dance troop as the entertainment. We were invited to learn a few dances before the evening, but nothing could prepare us for just how good these dancers are. Men and women in exact formations with close to 20 minute dance numbers. Good stuff. All the Peace Corps volunteers were invited to join afterwards and the video I have is mostly guys looking really intense and counting dance steps in their head. Not exactly Step Up 3: The Bulgarian Way. After about an hour, a change of music was needed and I was all too happy to fill this request. Rhiana, JT, Flo Rida and Kanye (courtesy of Jessica) blasted. I danced a little bit in front of everyone, and for some odd reason the Bulgarians loved it. A family that happened to be staying in the resort were going insane according to fellow PCV's, and the crowning moment of the entire night was a member of the Bulgarian Dance Troop coming over to me afterwards, handing me a beer and saying the equivalent of "good job". American/ Bulgarian intergration has begun.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

In the Airport From Die Hard II (Die Harder)

In our nation's capital at the moment, and the home of lady liberty is lookin' good.  My room has a sweet, Michael Bay-esque view of the Pentagon.  And across from that I can see our America's largest phallic symbol, the Washington Monument.  Training has been rather entertaining, and every here is pleasant, nice, and easy to listen to.  I must say, its been a great couple of days.
Tomorrow is the big exodus and everyone is excited.  I could never have conceived of how thrilling this moment would be way back in November when I started the whole application process.  Everyone here is more than I could of ever hoped for and the next 27 months look extremely  bright.  See you in August.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Two All Beef Patties, Three Hours of Sportscenter, and Four Trips to Target

Just had my last cheeseburger, and it was like biting into Ambrosia.  I wouldn't say I'm too picky of an eater, but I needs to bring the glory of cheeseburgers to Bulgaria or I will go Shinning-style crazy.  It's really weird at the moment to think "this is the last [insert cherished American food or activity] for the next 2 and 1/2 years".  Remember those girls in high school who were always close to tears the entire last month of your senior year over the simplest things?  "You guys, this is the last time we are going to have lunch on a wednesday".  I tend to avoid the sentimental, but watching the top ten highlights on ESPN was pretty hard.  I mean, could Jack Wilson's catch at short be better than Coco Crisps' diving catch in the bottom of the fourth?  It gets hurts a little bit inside...

Catchy-catch phrase 
Best Questions and Quotes So Far in Regards to Bulgaria:

"Oh nice, I hear Bolivia has awesome food"

"...don't they have Vampires?"

"Well, over there its probably legal"

"Is that next to Mexico?"

"Damn,...27 months is really only like 2 years"

"No, seriously, they have a James Bond movie about that place"

"You gotta go save the world from vampires,...Van Hewitt-Sing"

Monday, July 21, 2008

27 months is nothing

This thursday, July 24th, at the crack of noon, I'll be departing the sunny shores of Seattle for the hot "oh-my-gosh-al-gore-was-right" weather of Arlington, Virginia for the staging portion of my Peace Corps experience.  Am I ready? No.  Have I started packing? I have all the DVD's I want to take lined up, and thats about it.  Do I know Bulgaria? I know how to say "Do you speak English?"  Am I excited? Beyond belief.  This is like the first day of school, a midnight movie for an actually good movie (so not Spiderman 3) and a first date all rolled into one.  I'm nervous, but excited, scared yet intrigued.  A wealth of emotions are coursing through my mind right now, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

I doubt I'll be updating this blog as often as I plan to, but I'll make an effort.