Tuesday, September 04, 2007

episodic moments

As grape season flourishes here in the "Shopska" region of Bulgaria, I'm reminded of my first Bulgarian autumn. Two years ago I found myself living in a part of the country where people are immensely caring and warmer than their compatriots (so I'm told...). Everyday I woke up to a full breakfast - tea, coffee, milk, toast, homemade jellies, fresh fruit, and who knows what all else - and I scurried off to language class with Courtney, Erica, Alex and Anna, where conversation inevitably turned to commentary about fleas or the best pretzels, or why in the world Anna preferred nescafe when a perfectly good cup of turkish style coffee was the exact same price...

But when I think about that fall, I think about my wonderful and loving host family, and all the things they tried to explain to me, all the situations I couldn't yet comprehend, and the hilarity that ensued once we realized that I'd confused the words for "more" and "stop" at the dinner table! I think I often baffled them; spitting out the grape and watermelon seeds, not drinking 3 cups of coffee a day, and taking an interest in the small-time agriculture/harvesting that many families participate in.

Gathering grapes in the family vineyard is a memory that I'll never forget. It must have been 90 degrees, the air thick with a rarely experienced humidity, and the whole family was off to pick grapes. When my first pleas to assist the family were ignored, I had to utilize my entire vocabulary to convince them that I was truly interested! After a quick lesson from our next-door neighbor Mira I became a sanctioned grape cutter, and with the most dangerous looking pair of shears I've ever held in my life, I began happily snipping away. There were a few incidents with bees, but all in all, I think it was some of the only manual labor I've ever enjoyed. I think about it each year, and I wish I knew what week was grape gathering week, because I'd drop everything to go down and help once more!

--
I've got nearly 6 weeks left as a volunteer here, which means its time to start making plans and securing plane tickets!! My friend Christin convinced me into a trip to Russia, so I've been spending the last few days trying to get the travel visa in order. In the meantime, I've stumbled upon some very interesting sites!

you've heard of volunteering, nannying, eco-tourism, etc...but now...MISERY TOURISM!

offered, as far as I know, only within the freezing depths of Russia, misery tourism offers something that the well seasoned traveler has yet to experience; the realization that life outside the affluent is complete disparity. http://www.unclepasha.com/travel_russia_misery/misery_tourism.htm
check it out for yourselves!

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Lately I've started reading blogs of other Americans who live in Bulgaria, and I fear that most of this time, I've been depriving any of you readers out there of a clear picture of Bulgaria. So many of these blogs are filled with pictures from everyday life, products that you can buy, or simple anecdotes that by now, seem normal. In my last few days, I'll see if I can't remedy that on some level....

3 Comments:

At 6:50 AM, Blogger Andrea said...

hey, great memories from host family time in Bulgaria. . .made me get nostalgic about Bu--well okay not yet exactly, but I can see it coming on once we leave! Off to dress so I can meet you at Subway!

 
At 3:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, It's been a month since you posted. Just because we're all excited for your last big trip and the fact that you're coming home doesn't mean you get to quite updating your blog.

Love,
Your Sister : )

 
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