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,..at 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