Wednesday, September 07, 2005

weekend update- nearly 4 days later..

this weekend, my training class took a trip across bulgaria! our language teacher and her family accompanied us in a small rental van to two of the countries biggest attractions- the ampitheatre in Plovdiv (third largest city in Bulgaria) and the Bachcov monastery which was nearby in the mountains. we parked our bus about 2km from the monastery and walked up a small hill that was filled with vendors selling everything from freshly canned jellies (blueberry...yum!) to turkish candies and pottery. Unfortunately, we were not able to take pictures in the monastery. :( the monastery itself was built in 1300 as a tribute to the virgin Mary, and the building was quite interesting. the outside was very old, but inside, the decor was very ornate with many gold encrusted articles. on the way to plovdiv, we stopped at an old fortress that had been converted into a church but now serves as a national landmark. we trudged up an old, rocky path, and once we reached the top, we could see several villages and the many, many mountains. I have pictures of this one- i promise to find a computer that supports american flash drives soon!

Plovdiv has two main sections- old city ("star graht") and, well, not old city! Within the old city is an ampitheatre! you can see that the theater was abandoned at somepoint in time, but now it is used for operas and plays in the summer months. as we got ready to leave, we ran into fellow volunteers! they lived very close to plovdiv, and so had decided to make a trip into the city for some second hand shopping and a glass of wine. We were suprised and excited to see them, but with nearly 200 volunteers in such a small country, I am guessing this ocurrance was not highly unusual...

other exciting news this week includes my host sister's trip to the capital, Sophia. Sophia is about 100km from Cemptembri and you have to take a bus- no fun! BUT when I went home for lunch, she had a new car! so this week has been filled with impromptu visits to neighboring villages- because afterall, now that we have a car, why not??? We went swimming in mineral water pools, visited other cafes, and went to the "kroger" style grocery store (called Billa).

I can't remember if i've mentioned it or not, but my training group has an amazing relationship with the local police. last thursday we had a coffee date with the inspector and one of the other officers, and tomorrow, we are making a safety video for PC bulgaria with our beloved police! we're going to be smalltime movie stars! in addition, the inspector, Ivan, has promised to take us "fishing" some weekend ( "fishing"in bulgaria is the smalltown USA equvilant of fishing, just incase you were wondering!).

in other news, this weekend also marked Cemtemvri day! okay, so it probably isn't called Ceptemvri day, but my bulgarian is still progressing...we don't know the name of the holiday yet! Since bulgaria is a MUCH older country than the US, nearly every town has a holiday to commemorate a battle of some sort- so Sept. 2nd was our day. the town put on a concert and a national dancing/singing folk troup performed as well. afterwards, there were fireworks. this was all very fun, except the fireworks were a bit scary- they were lit within 20m of the general public, and as my "cousin" Nicky and I walked back to our house, smoldering lumps landed right next to us!! that was a little weird, but its just an example of how life in the US is highly regulated, and in places like BG, people are more carefree about risks.

Ceptemvri day also coincided with a national holiday, so my host family's relatives from Pazardjik and sophia spent the weekend with us. The weekend was partially work-filled too-Checho Petco (uncle petco) brought nearly 100 kg of a sqaush-like vegetable with him that the whole family cut up and fried in oil. the slices were then put in smaller bags (about 1kg) so that local stores can sell them. His daughter, Yanna, was also there. she works in bulgaria for wal-mart canada, and she only speaks english in the workplace! Again, it was nice to have an english speaker in the house, especially so that I could ask all of my burning gramatical questions! (you think I'm joking...)

okay, that's a lot of nothing...its been hard to get to the internet lately so I'm sorry that i crammed a lot of boring stories together. I promise that when they happen they are very fun!


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