Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hello blogosphere! @$&*#! I LIVE IN BULGARIA!

Alright, time for a huge post. I have not updated this since I got the good news I did not break my ankle. Some of you may be asking, “So, what has been happening in your amazing life?” The answer is simple: I work and live. Many of you may be thinking that this is a gross over generalization, and you are, in fact, correct. So, I will try my best to fill you guys in on my daily tasks. I did write out a play-by-play of my daily routine but that may be too much information for some. For those of you who only want to skim you can finish the next sentence and be on to your next blog. I wake up, eat food, find work, work for a couple hours, go home, eat more food, wander around town, find more work, wander a bit more, go home, eat yet again, listen to music and read, go to bed, that is all, hope you enjoyed my abuse of the comma, have fun with your next blog.

Still with me? Good. I usually wake up around 6 or 6:30 and begin cooking breakfast. While I wait the 15 to 20 minutes for water to boil I typically exercise (can't be slacking on my physique) and grind some Ethiopian coffee I bought in the nearest city, Devin. Once the water is boiling I start cooking breakfast which is two eggs with a bowl of granola and yogurt (there should be a pic, but it may not be labeled). After that I take about 45 minutes to finish getting ready for “work” which includes, doing my dishes, flossing, brushing teeth, washing face, combing hair (yeah, what of it?), putting on deodorant ('bout time I made it a habit, right?), and getting dressed. See? Not much different than in the States. Now it is usually around 8:30 or 9. I head down to one of the cafes and have a doppio. What? I drink a lot of coffee. Anyways, I drink that and watch people while I study Bulgarian vocab until 9:30. At this time I go and look for work. Sometimes my counterpart is in the library and sometimes she isn't. It is a busy time of the year. There is hay to gather, cattle to herd, things to harvest, canning to do, and a myriad of other things to prepare for the coming winter. If she is not there I have another office to utilize if I have computer work to accomplish. Some of the work I have been doing on the computer is creating a website or seven (without any programs like dream weaver, just me and notepad and a bunch of mindless coding), editing pictures, scanning pictures, helping with database management and spreadsheet creation, etc. If not I head to the cave and sit around talking with the people who work there. While there I may help someone but mostly I sit there, smile, and watch how they interact. Depending on the day I may have my first beer at 10:30. Between 11:30 and 12:30 I will head home to make lunch which is generally a huge salad, some fruit, and any bread I may have baked over the weekend. Then I nap or play computer games. About 2 or 2:30 I will re-emerge from my home and either have some coffee or work on some personal project. The last week or so I have been walking through every street making map of the village. Around 3 or 3:30 I usually go back to work until 5 or 5:30. Then I go shopping for food I may need for dinner, or I buy ice cream and eat it in the town square while the older men ask me why I am not drinking beer/rekia. I tell them because I have to cook dinner and they just kind of shrug their shoulder, make a joke about finding me a wife, and that is the end of it. Then I cook dinner, watch the news, get ready for bed, and watch some American TV I downloaded before I left. Whew! What a crazy life? Not really. Like I said, “I work and live.”

Life is a routine. Nothing new there. My work is drastically different than what I did in the States but it is work nonetheless. I may not sit in an office, or have a 9 to 5. I may get to hike for 5 hours and call that my work for the day. But at every moment I am working to fit into this community. I may have to work harder to integrate into my community because I am very different than usual. To help facilitate this I leave the lip piercing home and keep my shoulder tattoos covered (my Black Drop tattoo shows because it is too hot not to wear shorts). I am going to start learning how to make preserves for the winter with some of the local women. I will be learning how to make rekia and wine with my neighbor. Sometimes I go and visit with people at a local restaurant or their homes. My homework one week was to attend the local disco and meet some younger people.

Some interesting things: The cultural center I work for is performed in Varna (a big city on the black Sea coast) for a festival celebrating cultural diversity in Bulgaria. For this festival I got to perform with them. By “perform” I mean I stood on the stage, in a traditional outfit, and I didn't say a word. That is all. It was fun and I got to go to the Black Sea for work. WOOT! Also, having an American performing with a folk group was big deal and I got interviewed by the media. I tried my best answer the questions in Bulgarian but I quickly ran out words. I asked a friend to help translate and continued for a little while and then let them interview her because I am not supposed to talk with the media. I am not supposed to talk with the media because I, the American, quickly become the center of attention and it should focus of the partnership between Peace Corps and the host organization.

A Dutch couple bought the house down the street from and will live here next summer. They speak very good English and are extremely nice and they can party. Seriously. They were here for the first 3 weeks working on fixing up the house and will be back next year for more renovations. It will be nice to see them again after I have gotten more acquainted with the area.

I am also trying to find fast, reliable internet access. The next town over has cable internet so I am looking for a telecommunications grant to get cable internet to our town. It is cheaper and faster than what is currently available. I am preparing to start teaching English in October. I will have two classes, maybe more, one class will be at the kindergarten and another class with local business owners who want to improve the quality of service to English speaking tourists (which there are a lot). I will also be offering English classes to the employees at the local tourist attractions because only 1 person currently speaks English. Next summer I hope to work there during the weekends as a tour guide.

Don't worry, I have not forgotten about coffee. I am still quite obsessed with it. I am building up the language skills and nerve to ask the local cafe owners if I can work on their machines. They use La Cimballi (sp?) machines—two group, not sure of the model numbers—one is similar to the one at La Vie En Rose and the other looks like a newer model. I would ask but I don't think they know. With the limited amount of competition between the cafes and seeing how they prepare their coffee (pretty much the exact same way) I don't think offering specialty grade coffee is high on their lists of things to do. But I will ask a little later when there is less tourists. Also, I am looking into traveling to origin while I am a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) because if the Peace Corps (PC) are active in that country I will get the same benefits I would in Bulgaria. I am looking at East Africa right now. Just need to know when the harvest seasons are (if there are multiple) and when people conduct buying trips. It would be nice to go with someone who knows what is going on and what they are doing. But we'll see what happens.

Below are some pictures of my life. What I look like,my typical breakfast and dinner, and a little shrine I made to remembering home and my friends. I miss you all and hope you are doing well.


  1. Oh, Ryan. Love and miss you. And yes, you spelled La Cimbali right.

    ...so you comb your hair now??


  2. You are correct, sir. Your hair is getting long. ;) Miss you.

  3. quick question dude: what's your "main" job? do you have one? cuz it sounds like yr doing a lot of different kinds of things. my boyfriend is preparing for his PeaceCorps gig in Mongolia, and he is supposed to be teaching English, mainly, but it sounds like you're doing that and more. does it just kinda end up that they thrust you into lots of different work environments?

  4. Hey Marissa, I am doing a lot of things because that is my job. I a Community and Organizational Development Worker. As a teacher he will have a much more scheduled day and life. They have an actual job. My job is to integrate into my community, do a needs assessment, and find out what type of projects the community wants done and try to teach them how to go about implementing such projects. My job is very very vague. I will teach English because I am a native speaker and therefore know how to teach it. Primarily, it depends on your country of assignment, and your area of employment. Do you have his contact info? I can email him if you want.