Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Boboshevo: The Las Vegas of Bulgaria

So the big news of this week is that Michael Bolton is coming to Bulgaria. The Bobo crew went through Sofia on Tuesday to navigate the capital and while perusing the streets lined with stores full of LA fashion district transplants, skanky outfits for women that remind me of what you would try to get out of the house without your mom knowing in 6th grade (and I am serious, these clothes came from 1995), and manpris for men (which I must admit, I am starting to grow fond of), hiding slightly behind the advert for the upcoming Iron Maiden and Motorhead concerts I spotted none other than my man Michael Bolton. Perhaps the majority of you are unfamiliar what this means to me, but I loved him in 2nd grade. I am pretty positive that my best friend Genelle and I got in a fight over him when I was 8, because I claimed him as my favorite singer and she tried to copy me (she got demoted to 4th best friend after that). I lost touch with MB for a good number of years, but we fondly became reacquainted on my road trip of the US last summer. With 2 ipods, no car charger and the middle of nowhere, music became obsolete when those little gems died. However, Meghan and I stumbled upon a diamond in the rough when in Sheridan, WY we found a junk store that sold tapes. We bought MB's "Time Love and Tenderness" cassette and the magic returned. MB basically guided us down the lonely roads of South Dakota. I urge all of you to go listen to "Steel Bars" and tell me that he wasn't heaven sent. These things aside, better than simply discovering MB will be playing in Sofia was learning that I get to go (BIG thank you to Miss Sarah K who is seriously very convinthing). I might pass out and cry like a little girl... well maybe not, but entertaining the thought is exciting.

As you can see, the music choice is limited here in Bulgaria. This is possibly the thing I miss most about LA.

Forgetting about the fanatic that lives within, these last few weeks have been very eventful and I have been doing a horrible job of blogging. This is mainly due to the fact that I have been traveling very frequently (or representing America in the disco). I went last weekend to visit a PCV in Kazanluk, which is a beautiful city in the rose valley of Bulgaria. The next night I mozied on down to Pavel Banya to visit another PCV and the town was having the holiday for mineral water and roses. Here in Bulgaria it feels like everyday is a holiday for any possible reason. I am not complaining, for it was quite fun however to watch the fabulous Bulgarian folk dancing - I decided that once I get to site I am going to join a folk dancing team and prance around in those sweet outfits. Afterwards the volunteers and I made guacamole out of some avocados that were found in Sofia. It was pretty much amazing. On the journey back to Boboshevo we passed through Sofia which was preparing for President Bush's visit later that day. American flags and policeman were found on every corner. We had some sushi and went back to our respective towns. It wasn't that good and was rather expensive, but you work with what you have here. If any of you would like to send me some cheddar cheese, preferably sharp, I would love you.

Back in Boboshevo we had our last week of school and being so, there was no required lesson plan. Day and I took the opportunity to teach these kids about American music and attempted to inform them about the various genres. We decided it was our responsibility to prove that something besides metal, chalga, Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake actually exists. For my last class I switched from music to dance when I taught them that the art goes beyond the hug dance they love so much...the hokey pokey. This was actually hilarious. Camp Bobo also prepped this week for our community outreach project, which was a sporten den (sports day). Held on Thursday, this went really well and we dressed in ridiculous outfits to really set the stage (the pink headband was a must). After potato sack, three legged races and water balloon tosses, we taught the kids kickball. Overall they got it, but we couldn't figure out how to explain fouls. As such, we got some extra exercise.

Though it was the last week of school, the real excitement of Boboshevo these days is that the pool is open. Here they call it the beach, but do not be deceived by this. It is a giant blue hole in the ground, possibly chlorinated but that cannot be confirmed. We have made a few appearances (for as you know, one of our "friends" owns the pool). However, we are quite embarrassed about the redness/whiteness of our skin. And not being typically Bulgarian and stick skinny, making the transition from clothed and standing to in bathing suit on the lawn chair is always an unwanted adventure. A few days later Janel and I ditched out on a hike that we were supposed to take on Saturday to Seven Lakes - supposedly the most beautiful place in Bulgaria. Although I made the goal I was going to become more outdoorsy and do things I wouldn't normally want to, the idea of hiking up a very steep mountain with 50 other people in the rain sounded like misery. Luckily, Janel thought it would be misery too and of course there needed to be some American representatives at the Boboshevo nightlife convention. We hit up the disco on Friday where a whole new batch of boys made their appearance. All hell broke loose when a bottle was thrown and a fight broke out so we hit the donkey/goat poo covered road. The next day MamaVanya pulled another one of her freak out episodes about me going to disco, but I learned that 5 years ago when she owned it that there was a shooting by some mafia member from Kustendil and some guy from Bobo died. Now it makes sense why when the first time Janel went, her host mom pointed to some word in the dictionary that said "grave danger, evil peril." I assured her that someone walked me home everyday and since then we have seemed to be ok. Of course the next day went back to the disco where more insanity took place. Sometimes I think Bobo is the Las Vegas of Bulgaria and it just makes sense that the training group of all girls was placed here. I could write a seriously hilarious novel with all the exploits that take place in the Nevada of Eastern Europe.

Because we ditched the Seven Lakes hike, we made Foxy take us on a hike up through the hills of Boboshevo to the monastery. This was actually really hard and we were kinda embarrassed because he is like super fit and such. I feel really bad for him, because we are so ridiculous and he is constantly embarrassed. We pick up walking sticks, he shamefully shakes his head. We run away from frogs or giant bugs, we shakes his head more. We bust out in song, he starts to walk the other way. And when we pull out water bottles, food and hand sanitizer from our backpacks, he looks at us like we are absurd. As bizarre as Bulgaria and Bulgarians are to us, we must be more bizarre and I really wonder what they must think. All of the above mentioned actions seem normal and intuitive for Americans (or maybe just us), but apparently in Bulgaria, these habits might as well be from some science fiction movie. We also realized how much you can lose in translation (or just not get because our Bulgarian is slightly awful) when Fozy told us that Moulin Rouge (reference previous blog entry) wasn't the tourism minister at the municipality. He does work at the municipality, but apparently as the guy who changes the town's light bulbs (and badly at that... they are always burned out on the bridge, which makes walking home at 2 in the morning real fun). This made the Moulin Rouge connections a little less plausible, but it is still more fun to think he might be connected (and he seems to hang out with all the other skeezies who are).

In conclusion, I love Boboshevo. This is my last week here as I am prepare to move to Samokov upon my swearing in as an official Peace Corps volunteer. Whereas at the beginning I thought I was in the strangest place ever, it is amazing to me how quickly one can adapt and grow to love something so different and unfamiliar. We really do have friends, family, and a place of belonging here. I never imagined I could survive in a town as small as this is, but I have been blessed to be here for these three months and experience the tremendous growth that has come with the mind-opening and challenging situations. I dread having to leave, but luckily Samokov is incredibly close and I can maintain a good connection with this place that has become my Bulgarian home.

Pictures of all the above-mentioned activities and events to come soon. Also, next week when I move into my new home, I am getting constant internet and a Skype-In number, which means you Americans can call an American number for free and reach me! Get excited.

I miss you all and would LOVE to hear from you! Shoot me an email!

DISCLAIMER: This in no way reflects the views of the United States Government or the Peace Corps. It just represents me and all the insanity that resides within :)


Adam said...

Excellent blog once again. The donkey crap/mud streets bring back memories of my 2 year stint in a developing country.

It's Michelle's birthday today and undoubtedly everyone will gather at my apartment for some cake and games. Later on, the place will metamorphose into the house of the Lloyd. And last of all, Andrew and I will get stuck doing everyone's dishes. I can't wait! :)

P.S. More photos of Amy climbing trees or walking down pitch black streets would be greatly appreciated.

thatonegirl said...

i love hearing about your crazy adventures. :)