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.


  1. I have an advisor from Bulgaria. Do you know what you will be doing once you get there? Will you have time to travel?

  2. Hey, y'all--I've started something for your friends, family, and lovers (though I will not be held responsible if they are offended by my language or anything I say) however I've just made a rather large post about my experiences with mail, internet, and phone concerns in the US to Bulgaria direction. Please feel free to pass this on if you wish. I'm also hoping folks will add to or correct things I've missed.