Sunday, February 18, 2007

Vday, aunt clara

About 2 weeks ago Desi, my counterpart, took me "na gosti" (visiting, or in Midwestern perhaps 'to go calling') to her aunt Clara's house. Clara lives about 100m from me in a neighboring apartment building, and had been asking to meet me for quite some time now. So Desi and I went to Clara's for lunch, and its been friendship ever since. Clara just had her 72nd birthday this weekend, but you would never guess her age! This woman is so "v chas," literally "in the know" that its hard to believe she's a grandma. She writes in a journal about world affairs, knows what a laptop is, and makes some mean homemade soup! In addition to the lunch she prepared for Desi and I, she's also made me two FULL meals...this includes fresh baked bread, cookies, soups, pies, stuffed grape leaves, you name it! Since she lives so near to me, she also keeps tabs on my well-being because she can see if lights are on or off in my apartment. She had a million questions about our cattle business, whether we sell the cows, how often they give birth, what we do the milk, etc...and she was absolutely DELIGHTED to see a picture of calves at branding. Its truly amazing to see someone soo intrigued by life by the time they've reached her age.

This week we of course celebrated Valentine's day. Valentine's day is considered a "Catholic holiday" in Bulgaria, and only in the last few years have they begun to recognize it as a fun and worthwhile holiday. In the US where one might stress over dinner reservations, the perfect card, a well-selected gift and who knows what all else (!), in Bulgaria its perfectly acceptable to give a card and some stuffed heart-shaped thing to your loved one... But what if you aren't in a relationship? Have no fear! it just so happens that the Bulgarian holiday for wine-makers coincides with our Valentine's day! So if you've got no one to love, there's always a bottle of wine to help keep the cool nights warmer. My parents had thoughtfully sent me a box of Valentine Day's candies, cards and stickers, so I was able to show my coworkers how Feb 14th might be celebrated in the workplace in the States. I had a ton of fun being the center of attention while i described the red and pink "mail boxes" smattered with hearts and lace which we made in elementary school, the art of selecting the perfect valentine for that special someone, and the cunning needed to drop the correct combination of "conversation hearts" into your friends valentine. During our party then, of course the key candy was the bag of "conversation hearts," which were used to create witty little phrases. I was amused how my coworkers ate these candies though; whereas I would grab a handful and snack away on my favorite Valentine's candies, they would tentatively reach into the bag and pull out just one- one which would be a bit of luck for the future. In the same way that we prize our fortune at the Chinese restaurant, my coworkers held some hope that their chosen messages would become reality. The actual Valentines were also a big hit too! the little heart stickers used to seal the Valentines now adorn nearly every phone in our workspace (including mine!). I brought a few blank cards into work, and my coworkers delightedly filled them out for their children or boyfriends. Of course, we also drank a bit of wine!! :) This was definitely my favorite valentine's day to date!

A few weekends ago I went to the city of Dimitrovgrad to see my good friend Ethan, and also to work with a handful of PCVs on a "activity kit" which focuses on accepting others and diversity. We had some truly productive moments, and were kept on our toes by one of the newest members who was really anxious to get at the philosophy behind the project. We're hoping to have an "open" general meeting in the next few weeks so that this project can fly. Dimitrovgrad was pretty fun, and after a long day of meetings, we went to a neighboring town and met up with more PCVs there.

Half marathon training starts tomorrow, so I better get going! please feel free to leave a comment here on my blog! I'd love to hear how you're doin!!


At 6:33 PM, Anonymous Angeline said...

Love to mi Tonita!!!! Your Valentines day sounds SWEET! I'm glad Bulgarians appreciate conversation hearts ;)
Good luck with the (1/2) marathon training! I have my triathlon on April 21...what day is your race???


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