Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas..A little different in Bulgaria

Yes, it is a little different, but very special.  My host family really makes me feel like part of the family.  Especially when I'm trying to catch the train home and find out there's a problem with the train tracks..
For Christmas..they put up a tree and decorated it.  They made pitka..which tells you your fortune for the next year.  Mine was 'you will travel abroad'!  They set off some beautiful fireworks.  We listened to the Koladeri sing a Christmas song; we opened gifts..I got a great book that I've heard all Bulgarians read, 'To Chicago and Back'.  We ate great food, drank home-made wine, and on Christmas Day went to the Ledenika caves..I also saw Nina and Ken and Pepe.

I made it back to my apartment and spent many hours talking to my family on Skype for Christmas Day!..and left for Chiflik shortly after that.  Chiflik was interesting..on the way, we stopped to see the Shipka monument called the 'Monument of Freedom'.  This was where one of the great battles of the Russian Turkish wars was fought.  Several thousand Bulgarian volunteer soldiers helped the Russians defeat the Turkish here.  We also saw the church in Shipka, a gift given by the Russians to commemorate the soldiers who died during the war.  It is built in the traditional style of a Russian church in the 17th century.  In the same day we also entered one of the recently discovered Thracian tombs. 

Chiflik was great with its mineral springs (if only we had snow!).  I think this was one of the most International experiences I've had.  My friend Katya and her brother's family are Bulgarian, and her Bulgarian friends live in England, and her cousin's (half-Russian) husband is from Spain, and my other friend is from Germany, and of course me..the American.  We also visited Beklemeto, and a huge monument there shaped like this 'П'.  The views on the drive up were amazing, until we hit the snow and fog..lots of fog.  We walked up the last part because of too much snow blocking the road.  It was worth the walk!  On the last day we also stopped at the Troyanski Monastery.

I posted new pictures if you want to see some of these places.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years!


I won’t have access to my computer over Christmas, as I am going back to visit my host family and their family. I am excited to experience a Bulgarian Christmas..and spend it with my family away from home.

I’m hoping I’ll get my White Christmas for my first Christmas here in Bulgaria! It’s been snowing on and off here, and it looks like a whole different place covered in snow.

I posted some new pictures on my link at the bottom the blog labeled Tricia’s pics.

For our English class (my youngest students) the other day, I sang a Christmas song in English, and the kids sang me a Christmas song in Bulgarian..they’re so cute; they all sang so loudly.

And this weekend I went to Turkey for a quick visit with the teachers of the High School here. We saw one of the world’s oldest and largest mosques in Edirne Turkey, called Selimiye Mosque. It was a little unnerving at first, because when you are in the courtyard, babas and kids swirl around you trying to get you to buy their trinkets for the mosque..and they don’t take no, and they don’t let you be..but it is a very beautiful place. My pictures can’t do it justice. Once you get inside it is quiet. You have to take your shoes off before entering. There is an interesting story that goes with the building of the mosque, but I don’t remember it very clearly..only that there was a woman who wouldn’t sell the land, until someone (maybe the sultan?) had a vision that that was to be the location of the mosque. The woman finally consented, as she was also concerned about this vision, but only..only if they would put a tulip inside the mosque. I guess flowers and faces are not allowed in mosques, so it was very carefully hidden in one of the marble columns..barely visible today, but everyone tried to take pictures of it.

Hah..I can’t forget to talk about my first presentation experience here in Bulgaria. It was for my city, showing what I have accomplished in my time here so far. I am every so lucky to have two people in my life here. One is my best friend Katya, who also speaks English; and the other is my Bulgarian teacher, Petya. Katya helped me translate and practice my front of friends at a restaurant, while standing. They both helped me clean up my speech with words I could pronounce better, and..I got a big round of applause at the end. The best part was that even my colleague who speaks no English whatsoever, said she understood my whole presentation. That made me feel relieved.

Now if only I can only get rid of this Bronchitis..I’ve had it since before Thanksgiving and just can’t seem to shake it. Very annoying, it is.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

week ending Dec12th

I don’t think life is ever going to be slow or boring for me in Bulgaria..but that’s a good thing, because I have just been having so much fun. There’s always new foods to taste, new places to visit, new people to meet, new holidays to celebrate, and good friends to hang out with.

First, I just have to say I love Xora classes. These are Bulgarian traditional dances, and they are crazy good workouts (especially when you do them for 2 hours), and they are as fun to dance as Salsa..and if you know me, you know I love to salsa dance. I have to take a clip on my camera some time so you can see. These are some really complicated steps. When you participate in a don’t ‘dance’ a Xora, you ‘play’ a when I got there, I think it’s kind of funny they ask играйш ли? (Meaning do you want to play?).

Then, I recently had an interesting invite ‘na gosti’ to celebrate a ‘Свински празник’ – that is Pig Holiday. Yep, the lucky pig was slaughtered. If you look in my pictures, you’ll see a picture of the pig’s butt and also the pot where the pigs head was boiling..sounds tasty right. Luckily I was teaching this morning and did not watch the slaughtering of the pig. This celebration is similar to others including lots of new foods and lots of alcohol with good friends.

And today, oh lucky me, I have a kids party to go to. Hmm..I think I forgot I am supposed to be attempting to make a pumpkin pie from pumpkin. Oops.

Oh..the best thing though to happen is the snow! It finally snowed here and it is beautiful out. I think I’m going to have to breakdown and join the gym here since I don’t think I will be able to run at the stadium in the snow..but that’s completely okay..I love the snow!!

One last thing..before I go, during our Pre-service training we had to learn a couple of phrases to say if we attract unwanted attention and I have to say that I am very glad they make us practice these phrases..because for the first time I had to use one of the phrases, and I knew what to say..and you know what, it worked. So, a big thanks to Peace Corps for this training.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Village visits, and also Nikolov Den

I really like these visits I get to make to the village with my friends. It is a whole different way of life than in America. This is the way I understand it..when a person reaches retirement age here, they don’t retire to a nursing home..instead they move to the village from the city for two main reasons. First the pension they receive is usually a pretty small amount, so they have bountiful gardens full of fruits and vegetables, and many times animals like goats, sheep, cows, horses, and dogs and cats. This helps offset the lack of funds during retirement. And then second reason I often hear from my friends is, “What are they going to do, sit around and drink coffee all day..”. So, they enjoy tending the garden and animals. It keeps them active and oftentimes their children come to visit on the weekends. This is where I come in. I have visited a couple villages where my friends parents live, and I just have to say it is soo relaxing in the village. There is yummy food always cooked by the mom, and there are naps, and interesting conversations, sometimes a long hike..and no computer.

This Sunday was the Name Day, I got to see first-hand how this is celebrated. This is the name day for a Saint who watches over the fisherman and sailors, so on Sunday everyone eats fish, and there is a special way they sometimes prepare it stuffed with rice, walnuts, raisins, and I forget what else. For some people here, the celebration of their their Name Day is bigger than the celebration for their Birthday..but not always. So, on this Name Day, everyone who is named Nikola, Nikolai, Niki, Kolyo, Neno, Nena, and Nenka celebrate their Name Day

Thursday, November 26, 2009

So, i had an absolute fantastic weekend, and I hope everything will go smoothly this upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. I had originally planned to go back to visit my small village that I lived in during training (since all my winter stuff is still there)..but my friends convinced me to stay in town, and it was completely worthwhile. Katia helped me teach English Saturday morning, and then her mom picked us up and took us to their village, and made a most delicious meal. Everything was spiced just right. Then her mom brings in blankets and pillows (because most rooms in Bulgarian houses have small beds in them) and we took a nice long nap after chit chatting and watching American television; and this was followed by coffee and dessert. It was just such a relaxing day. And the next day a group of us went to Nicopolos ad Istrum.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Greece and Spain

I have to say..and I’m sure I’ve said it before, I could never get through the Peace Corps without my really good friends; Both in the USA and in Bulgaria. Often, I get messages from you all, and when I do, it really makes my day!
So, the past couple months have absolutely flown by and I’m sure the next two will also. So, you ask..what have I been up to lately? Oh..too many things to write, but here is a quick, okay maybe not so quick, synopsis:
Halloween party for the kiddies, turned into a real disaster, but I survived to leave that evening for Greece, with the teachers of one of the schools here, and from there I went to the coast of Spain to visit my brother and his girlfriend.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I hate this..i think the mouse in the kitchen is trying (successfully) to terrorize me. I was being brave and going into the kitchen to finish dishes..and I feel this tap, tap, tap on my slippers..thinking, I'm spilling water while doing dishes I casually look down..and there's this mouse, it keeps running and throwing itself at my foot, of course I can't stop screaming. So, I fix the mousetrap that I bought, wondering if it can really work. I decide that I have to eat, so I'll rush in finish the one dish left to wash grab food and rush out; only when I go to turn on the water, this friggin mouse jumps out at me from the counter where the sink is. I'm scared..really scared now, almost to the point of accepting one of my friends cats.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mouse, since I moved in I've heard these gnawing sounds in my living room and bedroom. I looked everywhere, under my bed, under the bureau with a flashlight, i lifted the carpets and thought I narrowed it down to just being bugs in the wooden floors, because everytime that's where I tracked the noise back to. So..I sprayed the wood with the bug spray we got from the Peace Corps; it didn't work. But, when I go to sleep and I hear it, if I bang hard on the floor or near it, the gnawing sound stopped. So..just this morning I read Val's blog, another PCV and she mentioned she saw a mouse in her place..oh yucky, i don't like 'em. And sure enough, I walk out of my bedroom, into the living room on the way to the kitchen and there is this really fast, black blur that headed right into my kitchen. I did the only thing I could do..scream, and then I shut all the doors around the kitchen, hoping it doesn't get out. I asked the 'maestro' that is putting the big lock on my door today and finally putting in my heater to what to buy to get rid of the mouse. I'm really scared; is there more than one mouse?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

it's already October?!

Just a quick entry say Happy Birthday to my dad!!! Love you dad.

Oh..and I will be in a relay race, on Monday, running for our Municipality..for a holiday celebration! Also I’ve been having fun teaching the adults English class..soon to start are the kids classes of English as well.

..and for those volunteers coming this way for the Halloween celebration, feel free to come on Friday and help out with our school celebration of Halloween the day before! The kids would be very excited to meet other volunteers.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


It has been a while since I posted..but, too much happening not to post. I am very happy to say that in my opinion, I have one of the best cities to work in, in Bulgaria. Not only are the people enthusiastic and welcoming, but I live next door to a transportation hub, and also next to a great college town.

I had fun this week meeting with many of the kids and Directors of the different schools here this week. I got to help out in the High School’s ‘Ecological Day’, and help make traditional dolls, and go on a nature hike with a group in another class. I think there is a lot of potential in working with the older kids in a business class, and talking with the younger kids about the environment and importance of recycling. I’ve got notes everywhere, and it has been a real challenge trying to stay organized. Having these meetings has really helped with my Bulgarian speaking skills. I’m sure half of way I say still makes people say, ‘what the?’..but for the most part, they seem to understand me, or I can at least get my point across.

I have been teaching an English class for adults in a nearby village. The first class was a little rough..since after all, I have never taught, much less in Bulgarian language. But, by the second class I could feel my confidence coming around. Tomorrow is the third class, and I think I’ll be starting a kids class shortly..that should be interesting.

So..what have I been up to for fun? I have some really fantastic Bulgarian friends here. It seems as though we often wind up in group discussions about America and Bulgaria. Almost always these include my good friends Katya and Elena; and Zuza and I go to dance classes together, and I have found some pretty entertaining and fun outdoor group activities to participate in. It’s pretty easy to talk about America, as everyone has questions about it..and Bulgarians are always excited to share information about their history and traditions. I went to a RockFest last weekend and a club after..that was a fun evening. I tend to wind up at unexpected ‘na gosti’s’ often.

I am, of course, still doing my running. It’s what keeps the stress away for me, and a great way to start the day.

It’s funny to me, that I get a little nervous everytime I go to a meeting or have a group of Bulgarians I am meeting up with, because I am always a little anxious about if I will be able to say what I want to say in Bulgarian..but you know what, things have pretty much always turned out well. Either someone in the group will know a little English, or I start remembering more of my Bulgarian.

Another Bulgarian instructor gave a frozen rabbit. Yep, I cooked it and ate it. I couldn’t eat it the first night though..because you see the four legs and body of the cute bunny. My mom had told me ‘it tastes like chicken’, and mom, you know what, you’re right..pretty tasty. But it’s still not fun to cook.

Hi Silky..Hi Navigator. I haven’t had a chance to write you two back. Hope you’re still out there on those beautiful bikes of yours. I’ll be thinking of you both when you’re hopefully riding in the Halloween rally to Salem!

Last think..i don’t think I’ve mentioned how Bulgarians answer the phone, and to me it’s the funniest thing. The closest I can come to what it sounds like is Alo, only with a ‘w’ instead ‘Awo’. Say it a couple times. Tell me you don’t think it’s kinda funny :)

Take care all..send me some e-mails and posts!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Motivated to learn the language

There's nothing more motivating to learn Bulgarian than sitting at a table with a group of Bulgarians in a political discussion, defending our President and country..what an interesting evening, from out of the blue. My friend / translator got a little caught up in the heated discussion, and as much as I could understand what they were saying in Bulgarian, I found it very difficult to express my views in Bulgarian. But..there will be a round two without a doubt. I have a feeling there will be many more of these evenings.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I can already see the frustration on my colleagues faces as they gather to speak about me and how they should present me to the city. And, even though I am right in the same room, and offer to help, it really sucks to be basically ignored due to my lack of Bulgarian speaking skills. I mean, it is my work history and life they are discussing after all; who better than I to answer the questions. This has been a frustrating week already, and it's only Tuesday. I'm at the point again where it feels as though the more I study, the less I understand, if that makes any sense.

Yes..I am aware that there is a long initial learning curve; I just wish that my counterparts also knew. It is mentally draining listening and trying to understand Bulgarian all day long..trying to ask questions, and then trying to understand the answers. The smallest task, such as a simple introduction to the Police Inspector in town, or reheating leftovers without a microwave, or even just figuring out what to cook and how to cook it..they're all much more difficult here. I am really looking forward to that time when I look back and see how far I've come.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

PICS the link for some of my photos is down below, listed under Tricia's links. Click on the link Tricia's pics, and it should take you to some of my pics.


OK…so I made it through the difficult time, PST (Pre-service training). For those of you lucky enough not to have heard the many complaints I had during PST, here is a quick synopsis:
- Outhouses, and worse yet squat toilets in the outhouses
- Animals that lived right outside my window (roosters, chickens, my puppy, goats) and of course the rooster crows day and night..really makes for a sound sleep
- One day I forgot I had a long skirt on bent over to pick up my puppy “Rocco” and my skirt fell in a pile of crap..didn’t even realize it until I stood up and it spread onto my legs. My host dad is standing there just laughing so host mom insists I take my skirt off almost in the front yard..when I say absolutely not, she really does not want me to go into the house with the animal crap on my clothes..
- Or there’s also the time Spas (my host father) gave me a kitten to play with for a bit in my room..however, it jumped off the bed and behind the wardrobe (which does not move)..Spas and I use flashlights and sticks and everything to try get that kitten out...but it is determined to stay in there, and basically keeps me up the entire night meowing, and it wouldn’t come out..i was not a happy camper the next day.
- And of course there is the first night we all get to site with our host families, and we all decide to go running that evening. The problem is that none of our host families will let us out. I literally had to run around my host dad who had planted himself directly in my path, and grab my cellphone and call our language trainer, Mitko. Mitko finally got me released from my family, and then had to go and talk to each of the other volunteers in the meantime I waited with Ursula at her families house..We waited..and waited, and waited some more..when all of a sudden I see a guy walking in our direction..I’m so relieved because now that the other volunteers are headed our way, we can start our I jump up and shout Hi, thinking it was one of the volunteers, Ken. Yep, you guessed it, it was not Ken..but the fellow insisted on coming in the gate, kissing my hand and chatting with me and Ursula. Ursula just cracks up laughing J there’s many of these silly stories that have happened, but the point is, I made it through PST! I’m at my permanent site now, and have my own apartment. Maybe not quite like my apartments in the US..but still, all is well. Despite these silly stories, I will dearly miss my host family and my village..they were awesome, and I plan to go back and visit often over the next two years.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Here in Bulgaria

Ok all..i am here in Bulgaria, in a small village outside Vratsa. And yes, we use squat toilets. A first for me. It has been odd living in a house and community where only me and 4 other people really speak English. We tend to say 'good morning, evening, afternoong' and 'hello' often. It's still all a novelty to me, and I am really enjoying it. We were playing soccer with the local kids, while there were donkeys, horses, and dogs in the background. There are also some pretty neat moutains we are hoping to hike, and some caves that we are hoping to visit this weekend.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


The countdown begins as my days in the USA now number less than 30! Please join me on my journey as my intentions are to post to this blog weekly?! If you click the 'Follow' button at the end of this page, you will be notified when I post additional entries.

Thanks to all of you who are able to make it to my farewell dinner. It will be great seeing friendly faces after spending the week packing, moving box after box into storage, cleaning, closing accounts, and shopping. It's amazing how difficult it is to close down one's life in one country. Kind of scary..So, the big moto trip starts Tuesday..keep your fingers crossed for good weather for my ride!

Sunday, April 12, 2009 stressed or concerned? Why, oh why would I be feeling these things. I guess because I only have 5 days of work left, and I have yet to pack for the big moto trip home, pack for Bulgaria, buy a laptop and external hard drive, put my whole life in storage, and say good-bye to all my friends out here in just a little over two weeks, and continue learning as much about the history, culture, and language of Bulgaria as possible. And scarier yet..In one week, one day I will be in Bulgaria! I'm so excited just to get there already!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Only three weeks of work to go!

I picked up my motorcycle's been in storage for the winter, and it felt so good to ride again. The weather was in the 50's.

I'm excited that the city we'll be leaving from prior to our final takeoff to Bulgaria is Washington D.C. It is so hard to believe that I'm going to be in another country in less than two months.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Still trying to figure out this blog thing. I put the RSS address in my Connected PC page, but I don't see the I am posting this to see if it will update.

Prepwork for Bulgaria

So..preparing for Bulgaria takes a lot of time. I'm scheduled for my staging (this is where I will meet the 50-60 other Peace Corps volunteers) to meet on May 19, and will be leaving for Bulgaria the following day! As of right now, we do not know where we will meet for the Staging..we get that info about 5 weeks prior to leaving.

Right now, I am focusing on learning the language, figuring out what type of luggage I will be bringing, and signing up for a self defense class. And of course, reading as much about Bulgaria, and their history and political structure as possible.

There is so much more to get done, and the weeks are flying..I can't even begin to imagine the adventure ahead.