Monday, May 24, 2010


So, I had a blog written and I have no idea where it went. So, here are some pictures.

Cameron's Birthday party!

Soccer game!

View on our walk to the next town.

View near my co-trainee Amber's house.

Our River!

Our language trainer Momchil smelling hte flowers outside our classroom.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Your Wondering Now What to Do When you Know That This is the End"

So, today I got to know where my training site located. I will be in Pudria which is about 20 or so Km north of Vratsa in the northwest of Bulgaria. My address will be : [send me and email if you are interested]

This is only valid until I get to my permanent address in 11 weeks. Please do not send anything until I ask for it. There is gnarly customs taxes. For instance, anything sent to me that has a value over 50 bucks I will be charged 100% of the value of the items. An example is that if items sent to me are worth 45 USD I will not be charged. If it is worth 55 USD then I will charged 55 bucks to get it out the post office. Remember, Bulgaria is an industrialized nation and a lot of items are available commercially. Also, customs agents will open the package, in my presence, to assess the worth of the items. If you do send something please be sure to write “Items for personal use. No commercial value.” so that way I might not have to the customs. It is a remote possibility but a possibility nonetheless.

Some of you may be confused about me being in spot then moving to another spot for more training. The first few days are mostly briefing about security, medical policies, and overall understanding of how thing work within the Peace Corps. There are also language courses twice a day in which we are changed around to find the best fit among trainees and teachers. They are looking for learning styles, skill level, and desired host family demographics. I spent the last week going through all this and now I am going to be meeting my host family tomorrow afternoon. They will most likely not speak any English. This is exciting and frightening because I am not too comfortable with my ability to follow Bulgarian when spoken fast. For instance I watched Bulgarian news yesterday and had could only read country names during the international section. I mean that is better than nothing but still a tad overwhelming. Also, the town is only 700 people strong. Almost everyone will know who we are and we will be huge spectacles. Maybe not like having the press following us around (like the airport in Sophia) but people stopping, watching, pointing, and whispering. They have had volunteers in the past so it may not be too out of ordinary. Oh well, we'll see. My group is going to be awesome. I am also excited to start playing football (soccer) and learning other games. Apparently there is a lot of hiking and nature around. Our language trainer (LT) is a former boy scout, or Bulgaria's version of Boy Scouts, so we might get Sunday nature walks.

We had a huge fancy dinner last night since this was the last night of our training here. It was quite exciting. I got all dressed up and sat with my group who were also all dressed up. Learned a few new words in Bulgarian and ate and ate and ate and ate and ate. The typical dinner in Bulgaria lasts for 3 or 4 hours. Slowly eating (that is going to take some time to get used to) and sipping a locally made brandy. During the dinner we had a local dance troupe come in and perform traditional dances. After their performance we all got up and danced with them...well, we tried at least. Then we took over and partied. I hung out and chatted with people in the corner because it really wasn't my kind of music and, as many of you know, I don't dance. Toward the end of the night me a couple friends went back to my room to listen to doo wop and drink Johnnie Walker Gold Label and chat. We finally said good night around 1 AM or so.

In other news, I found out a fellow trainee's family own a coffee farm in Honduras. He says it is in disarray because of familial politics but I might get a chance to go there and help. I don't know anything about coffee farming other than what I have read in books and online but it is a trip to origin that sounds awesome. I think I am going to mention the Coffee Corps to him. They may help them figure out what kind of coffee to plant, best pruning practices, etc.

As for the personal things, the food here is delicious. I am eating lots of fresh fruit and veggies with every meal. There is also some sort of protein at every meal as well. I am feeling pretty good about most things. I am trying my hardest to adjust to life here. But still living out of suitcases and being in a huge (tourist) group makes it a little hard. I think the gravity of the situation will sink in when I get home with my host family and there is no one to turn to when I have no idea what is happening. HA! The other big turning point will be when I get dropped off at my permanent site for the first time. When there is nothing but me and my stuff (if I get a private apartment that is) and no one to talk to not even in broken Bulgarian. I have been so busy that I hate so say that I haven't had much time to miss the little things. I am constantly on the go, meeting new people, and learning new things that there hasn't been enough time for such feelings. I work so hard that I am in bed by 10:30 and I am up by 7. I am sure that the novelty of this place will wear off soon but right now I am just enjoying being here.

All in all this is an awesome experience thus far, but the summer camp atmosphere is ending today. Now it is time to work and prepare to live in this country on my own. On the plus side of that is the pace of life is much slower. I guess that is all and I will update when I get a chance to from Pudria.

I will post photos when I get a chance. I am really bad at remembering my camera.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We made it

So, after Leaving JFK at 5:30 PM EST time (2:30 PM PST) I arrived in Bulgaria and at the hotel at 8:30 PM Local time the next day (1:30 PM EST or 10:30 AM PST) if you include leaving the hotel in Philly at 9 AM EST (6 AM PST) I was traveling for 28.5 hours straight. I am tired. But I made it safe and sound. Plus the food is delicious.

That is all I can do for right now because whiskey and sleep are calling my name.

Monday, May 10, 2010

"I believe the distance of reach is far beyond what I have ever dreamed"

This is a picture of my last breakfast with my family. Mmmmmmm, fried rice and coffee.

The last two pics are all that I own. No car. No House/Apartment. Just these boxes and suitcases.

Whew. It has been a crazy last week. Lots of running around. My cousin had a baby 12 hours before I left for Philly for Staging. I have spent the last 24 hours basically getting to know a as many fellow trainees as possible. I got to sit in a room for 7 hours and learn about Peace Corps core policies and rules. It was a lot to take in a single sitting. I am extremely tired and have to be up extra early because I am a group leader and have to help get other Peace Corps Trainees onto a bus heading for JFK in NYC as well and be in charge of their tickets and passports. Exciting stuff. I am also realizing that I brought the least amount of stuff. I apparently am going to be getting a lot of things there such as more button up shirts, more slack, and ties. Business casual is less casual and more business in my opinion. But I also think that anything with buttons is dressed up. All my clothes are going to be hand washed and line dried which will limit what dress shirts I can wear. The more I talk with people about my job the more I realize that Community Development workers seem to have the least amount of direction which is a relief and terrifying. I like the freedom but also find it daunting.

I am meeting a lot of awesome people. My cohort is big with 80 kids heading to Bulgaria with me. I am not getting tired and should be off to bed soon. The next time I blog will be in a couple weeks when I regain Internet access in Bulgaria. I will miss you all and look forward to seeing you when my adventure is done.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


So, I am sitting here at the Black Drop Coffee house for the first time in two weeks. It feels so weird to have gone so long without going to the place I went once a day for nearly 8 years of my life. Also, there is no good espresso in Puyallup and that makes me angry. While driving back up here I realized how lovely this place is. A part of me will always question my intentions for leaving this place. I know that this is the right move for me in the long run. I need to leave for a while in order to regain perspective. I am by no means talking shit about Bellingham. I can see myself coming back in the future but for right now it is not the place for me. It is hard to explain. Maybe it is because it is the only place I have lived outside my parent's house or maybe it's because I don't feel as though you can “grow up” in Bellingham. It is Never Never Land to me.

In other news, I need to only pack my shit and then I am ready to go. No more throwing stuff out/donating it/selling it. The stuff that I cannot fit into my bags gets tossed. Then it is all family all the time until my folks drop me off at the airport. Well, not entirely. I do have a couple more things to get but nothing too important...just shoes. My Bulgarian is coming along slowly. The words/sounds feel awkward in my mouth but it will just come with time and practice. It is difficult to talk to wall.

Anyways, I will update with more stuff later. And pictures of how little shit I have now.