Friday, August 26, 2005

Would you like to see my badge?

Yesterday, as part of our peacecorps (PC) assignment, the volunteers visited the local police inspector and his deputies. They told us about crime in ceptemvri (almost none), where it was safe to run, what to expect from local people, etc. This was, however, much less interesting than the ambiance that surrounded our visit. One of the things that is so striking to me is the reminants of communism and soviet influence. Each building lacks the aesethetic exterior that we, as americans, are so acoustomed to seeing- the paint is chipping and where there is color, that too is faded with age. the buildings are largely square and efficient, looking sturdy and stern, seeming to communicate that each building has a purpose; that when one passes by, you are reminded of its stately presense, and nothing more. i refrainn from labeling the buildings as "dilapitated" or "run-down," but I can't explain why. The police officers, in their uniforms that exude "soviet issue," seem to come straight out of a movie. their small box-like office is congested with smoke, local newspapers and a single picture of a man who is wanted (for embezzlement) in the area. maybe, afterall, its not so different from smalltown, USA? The inspector and his deputies were quite happy to see us, however, and we were even given an inviattion to utilize the private community fitness center (really nothing more than a tiny room filled with free weights and walls plastered with picutres of famous fitness models (govenor arnie and the like...)) with them. They told us that we should feel safe in ceptemvri and to stop by and chat every now and then.

one thing that is challenging to adjust to is constantly being on dislay. as forieners not only to the country but to the city, and especially as americans, people are concious of what we do. if we visit a tavern or a restaurant, its certain that someone in our host family will have heard about it by the next day. when we walk places, people are curious to see who the new people are, and they want to know what we are up to. they mean no harm, but its a little disconcerting to know that every move you make is recorded in the town's history. the impressions we leave of americans are impressions that will not fade easily.

i've realized that this is a really depressing update! I had meant for some of those things to be humorous, but alas, apparently i've had a need to cleanse my mind- that seems to happen when you spend only 4 hours a day with english speakers.

my bulgarian is getting better! i think my family was starting to get frustrated with how little bulgarian i am able to speak, but hopefully i've am over the initial learning curve. I know how to say "pimp" in bulgarian, and I even know a swear word or two...:) word on the street is that this monday, the PC will distribute a list of bad words to all the volunteers...just so we can be in the know! this monday and tuesday we are meeting up at the hub city, so that should be fun! this weekend we are going to a wedding party and visiting a boy who was in a terrible bike accident a few years ago. he is parapalegic, so we are going to visit him occasionally and keep him company.

here are two interesting/humorous (i hope) items for you;
*bulgarian beer costs roughly $.60 for 32 oz, and a heineken costs a mere $1.50!
*Mr. clean (the bald detergent man) has a commerical here too, except he's "mr. proper." go figure.

stravete! leave me a comment!


At 2:34 AM, Blogger Waffle said...

Hey! Sorry we missed your sending party. We were out of town once again. Looks like I have some catch up reading to do to see what you have been up to there. Sounds like an adventure and $0.60 beers... hmmm. We look forward to reading more about your experiences.

Jason and Carrie

At 2:40 AM, Anonymous alfie said...

It reminds me of the times we'd go to science fairs, conferences and the like in elementary and middle school, "now remember kids, you are being an ambassador for your school [state, rez, whatever] and should act accordingly!"

i was usually the only one who would be a repeat traveler, so i got used to the speech. after a while i focused less on my behavior and wondered, "so ... do i get diplomatic immunity?"

you should definitely check on that.

At 12:39 PM, Anonymous Jim Ray said...

Toni, I have just read everything, even though I have 6 papers to read for the APSA convention in Washington , DC...I'll be leaving on Wednesday. I sent letters, during my peace corps experience, to my parents, and to one college friend who kept them for me. When my time was up, I had written dozens and dozens of them....which I haven't seen for several years now. but I think they are still stored somewhere in the house....When I have gone back to read them, they recount events of which I have no memory whatsoever. But then that was of course now 40 years ago!

At 2:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for keeping your page up to date. I am glad that you have learned a few words in another language even if it is swear words.
Sounds like things are going well for you and you are learning lots of things. Take Care

Uncle Jim


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