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.