23 August 2007

August 11, 2007

August 11, 2007

This is a picture of the view out my bedroom window, and then of my Peace Corps friends.

Today is my first day in Krynisti, where I live with my host parents Vasil and Yodanka. Maika (mother) Yodanka is a joyful older woman who loves to cook. Bashta (father) Vasil is super nice as well. He drove me home from the peace corps office in Dupnista. He likes to drive upwards of 150 km/hour and it scares the shit out of me.

I woke up this morning around six. I live in a small village; about 2000 people ‘live’ here. I don’t think 2000 actually are here, but rather many are working in Italy. Anyway, I was told that Kyrnisti is a quiet place. Not so! You know those little toys that are round, you pull the handle and they say “the cow goes mooo…..the pig goes oink….. and so on? Yeah, that is what my room sounded like this morning. Of the many sounds that I could not identify, I heard roosters, cows, donkeys, dogs, horses. Oh, and sheep were being hearded down the street at about 7 am. But even the Mercedes (super machina!) pulling out of the next door garage has to wait.

When I woke I spent a couple of hours stretching. Leaving my room was a challenge as mini panic attacks abound here in Bulgaria. Taking each day at a time is the only way to get by. Sometimes I want time to stand still, I want to stop thinking, stop having to smile and repeat “da?!” after every sentence slammed in my direction by a Bulgarian. Then I breathe and I am amazed that I am here. I am proud that I have placed myself in the center of discovery, even when it feels like the center of disaster.

Vasil and I went to the bazaara in Dupnista today to buy fruits and chickens (kokoshtki). The bazaara was the biggest farmer’s market I have ever seen. I laugh when I remember how I made an effort to see my little Seattle farmers market one last time; like I will miss it. The kokoshtki bazaara was a trip. All these cages filled with birds of all colours. I got to pick one (edinie) and Vasil picked 4 (chetri) others. They were all stuffed into a box the size of my backpack.

When we got home Vasil, Yodanca and I went to their gardina to pick vegetables. To picture the Gardina, imagine the p- patches in Seattle; a space that the community has created for everyone to have a place to grow their own food. Now imagine that everybody in the town has a gardina the size of a p-patch with a chain link fence surrounding each. The gardinas are old, so they have well developed fruit trees as well as tomato (domati) plants as tall as me. We picked peppers, onions, black berries, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, and dill.

When we got home (11 am) my American friends (there are three other trainees in the village) arrived at the house with a current volunteer, Becky, who has been in Bulgaria for five months. Maika and Bashta were so excited that we were rushed down to the Basement for my first gosti. Gostis are parties that can, and do, happen all the time. It must be the national past time of Bulgaria. Maika wanted us to drink, and considering that it was still in the am, we all were skeptical. We got past having to drink Raika ( I will explain this later) and settled with a gin and tonic. At least when we drink store bought alcohol we can know the alcohol content. We had a blast, and now with Becky I could finally convey a full thought to my parents. Becky took us for a walk and about two hours later we returned for the second gosti of the day. This time it was lunch. They had prepared so much food. We had a salada (tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, sunflower oil and salt) two different kinds of roasted pepper dishes, a Bean soup called bop, melons, chocolad, and raika. Raika is a home made hard alcohol that is the strongest stuff you can drink and not die from immediately. I was feeling is off the first sip. It basically is moonshine made from grapes, fermented for seven years. Every house has their own distinctive rakkia that they are very proud of. After lunch, we had dessert. Dessert consisted of home made sweet red wine that had a bit of a bubble to it. I had one glass. After lunch, I walked my friend’s home. When I got home I took a two-hour nap, woke with a headache, and found that Gerorgi, my host brother, has returned from Italy (where he works) for two weeks. He took me for kafe (coffee) with his friends, which was awkward, more “da!?’s” .And head nods! In Bulgaria one nods his head yes as if he was nodding no and vice versa. Yodanca came and got me for dinner an hour later. Dinner was eggs, fried cheese, salada, and bread. Did I mention that I have forgotten what it means to be even slightly hungry? Raikia shaun? No maika. Shaun! Raika! Ne ne ne maika. Dovree shaun. Dovree. Tomorrow morning I am going to a Bulgarian wedding to dance the huro. Can anyone guess how many drinks I will be forced to consume before noon? After, we are going to a village in the mountains. I am not sure exactly what kind of village. All I was able to understand was that only old people live there and they have no running water or electricity.

Lecka nosht!


elsbrico said...

Damn dude! You have stepped into another world and it sounds intense! That's some serious culture going on there. You'll adjust soon enough and be drinking no problem. 9am, give this guy a 7 year old grape juice!

Tanner said...

i think this sounds like a fun place to live. the stories make me laugh.