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.