Tuesday, November 22, 2011

winter's coming..

Icicles growing on my eyelashes
As I run laps at the stadium
So covered in fog
I can barely see a quarter of it

Though slightly eerie,
It also gives evokes a feeling
Of being way up in the mountains
In the clouds so damp and chilly

After, waiting at the coffee machine
I feel a drip..drip..drip on my forehead
I look up..nothing there
Take off the glove to pat the head
It’s covered in ice particles, and quickly starting to melt

I love running this time of year

Friday, November 11, 2011


VOTING – Local and Presidential elections

Sunday, October 23rd was the beginning of elections in Bulgaria..and with it came many questions from me about voting in Bulgaria..here are some of the highlights of my questions and some of the answers.

How do most Bulgarians decide who to vote for?..do they vote by a preferred party, or for a specific candidate, or based on the issues a candidate supports?
- the majority of Bulgarians I asked, indicated that they chose by candidate..it did not matter which part they belonged to, and there are many parties to choose from.
- in many cities, towns, and villages there are no debates, so none of the issues are addressed in the open between candidates.
- Many of the candidates in my region put on performances by the local cultural center as entertainment..but were any issues discussed?

Buying and selling votes – there is no secret about it. Adults and students alike all seem to know people who buy and sell their votes..on average, what I have heard is that a vote can be bought for 20BGN (around $15) and one online paper said the going rate was over 100BGN.

For the first time, Bulgaria decided to hold the local elections and the Presidential elections at the same time (to save money due to the crisis). In prior years, these elections were held separately.

Either way, in local and presidential elections, the leading candidate must win by 50+% of the popular vote. If a candidate does not win by this amount, then the elections are reheld the following weekend. In the case of my town, our mayor won outright..but I know many places that are had a revote the following Sunday because there was no clear winner. As for the Presidential elections, there was not a winner with 50+%, so voters did have to return to vote again, even if their local mayor has been decided.

It is a law that no alcohol be served in establishments from 8pm Saturday, until Monday, due to the elections.

Who can vote, and who can run for the elections
- A person can run for office only in the local elections if they have the status of long-term resident (this information comes from an Englishwoman in the local elections).
- A person can also vote if they are a long-term resident..but they can only vote at the local level.
- They cannot cast a vote for the President, nor can they run for Presidency with long-term resident status.

Monday, November 7, 2011


I went on a hike at a nearby mountain this weekend with the hiking group..and it was just what I needed. You know, how poets sometimes say that a location inspires them to write..that’s exactly how I felt this weekend while hiking..the leaves were a beautiful golden color and lightly drifting to the ground, the sky was clear with the sun shining strongly..the wind was whistling through the treetops, and the mountains were snow-topped and beautiful, as always.. It was a relaxing day with a really great group of people and good conversations..I wish I could just bottle up the feeling, and open it up when life gets a little too stressed :)

I posted pics from the hike..click here, or at the bottom of this page labeled Tricia’s newest pics.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Part 2 – Bulgarian names

..and for me as a child, and even now..my last name is the same as my parents..the family name – well, in rural areas in Bulgaria, the family name comes from the grandfather on your father’s side. Think about this for a moment..if that were the case for me, my mom’s family name, and my dad’s family name would each be different, and their family name would be different from my family name..and not only that, if my grandfather’s family name were Yordanov, my family name would have to be Yordanova (because I am female)..

The trend in the cities has moved away from this, and families moving from villages usually officially change to a common family name if they move to a city.

A child’s middle name is always a derivative of their father’s name..even if there is more than one child..For example Ivelina Dimitrova Stanova and Ilian Dimitar Stanov.

..and if you call or shout out to someone, the name also changes..not greatly, but it changes..like Ivan – you would shout Ivane..or for Elena – Eleno, Lubomir – Lubomire.

This last rule about names, I have yet to follow. In Bulgarian there are 2 forms of ‘you’. There is the singular you (ti), and the plural form (vie).

When introduced to someone you should use the polite ‘vie’ form + their family name..and only when you are on a more familiar basis do you change to using the singular ‘ti’ form + their first name. I have a Bulgarian friend that finds it difficult to determine when this point has been reached..

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What’s in a name?

You know those nicknames we have for people – like for a woman named Susan, we might call her Susie, or Sue..or Richard my be called Ricky or Rich or Rick. And these nicknames or abbreviated names make sense to me. I can see where the shortened name comes from.

Well..in Bulgaria, names and how you address one another have a very different structure..and it can all get very confusing at times. For example:
- 2 people born in the same year, might address each other as Набори - Nabori (meaning exactly that ‘born in the same year’
- Colleagues working together often refer to each other as колеги – kolegi (colleague)..I guess that is easier than remembering their name.

-- and when speaking with a woman around the age of your mother, she should be addressed as леля – lelya (meaning Aunt)
-- a women around the age of your grandma is addressed as баба – baba (Grandma)

And likewise for men

-- it’s чичо – chicho (uncle) for men approximately your father’s age
-- and Дядо – diyado (grandpa) for men you grandfather’s age

And to show respect to another man (whether he is your age, or older)..I often here batko, or bai+name (for example Stanimir would be called Bye-stan)..kind of like big brother..he always helps and takes care of the hikers in our group that fall behind.

Here is one that really throws me..it is a part of the local dialect in the Veliko Tarnovo region.
- When an older person speaks with a younger person..they refer to them as ‘Ba’
- When speaking with a grandfather, he is also referred to as ‘Ba’
- When a younger person is talking with their mom it is ‘Ma’ (that one makes sense)
- When speaking with morethan 1 person, or to adults they address each other as ‘бе’ (Bay)

Are you confused yet?

If you converse with someone with the same name..you don’t call each other by name..instead you say адаш (adash) – meaning namesake (per the dictionary).

Which is why I usually call people by the name they are introduced with..but somehow, even that gets confusing. Let’s say I get introduced to Georgi. Now that sounds like a simple enough name..however, when other Bulgarians refer to him in conversations, they don’t say Georgi..they say Zhoro, or Gogo (commonly used in the cities), or even Gosho (in the villages)..or..here’s an example for a woman’s name – Boriana might be referred to as Bobi, or Boobka. Here are a few more:

Girls names:
Gergana – Geri Penka – Pepa or Petia Paraskeva – Parka Ginka – Galya
Boys names:
Dimitar – Mitko or Mitak Nikolai - Koilyo Valentin – Vaiylyo Yoran – Dancho

Did you notice girls names always in in ‘a’ and boys names only end in a consonant or ‘o’ or ‘I’.

Next week, I’ll explain about middle and last names..almost as confusing as first names :)

This week, I did a radio announcement with two students from the 10th grade about the International Day of European languages..and we asked the announcer to play a few songs in other languages..One of the songs she chose for Bulgaria is the one I have posted above – Detski Spomen (press the play button in the upper left corner).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Song posted

The newest song posted above (press the play button in the box in the upper left corner - it says Rofinka Bolna Legnala), is a song from the Rhodope's, in the mountains, one of the many diverse regions on Bulgaria. When I visited there a while back with my hiking group, one evening we were lucky to be entertained by the owner and a colleague..one played a homemade guida (bagpipes), and the other sang..and 2 of our women hikers joined in as well..it was quite beautiful to listen to. This music is very different probably from what you have listened to..but I would suggest closing your eyes, and just listening a bit to it.

little delights in life

Living in Bulgaria has really made me a more avid hiker..but sometimes it is nice to visit and hang out with the friends in my town..all sorts of interesting surprises pop up. I visited Geno last weekend..he is pictured below.
Geno is proud to say he was my oldest English student at 81 years of age. He invited me for lunch. Geno is the ideal type of person I can see running a ‘kushta na gosti’ – these are houses where tourists are invited to live and help out to see a typical Bulgarian way of life. Every time I visit, I learn something new. My last visit was spent picking strawberries and eating mulberries, and bringing up water from the well (much harder than it looked)..this time, we picked grapes – there are so many different types of grapes, all tasting different and ripening at different times. With the grapes, we made freshly squeezed grape-juice (see the picture below).
Yep..dig your hands in and squeeze; and then strained it and had it for desert later. We also started a fire in a little fire well, and roasted peppers..also a new experience for me (the peppers start hopping when the bottom gets really hot from the fire).
After biking back from the village, I headed up to our local monastery where the Horo (Bulgarian dances) group was meeting to celebrate our 2nd anniversary of the group (I swear we celebrated this in the winter already)..but it was a great time..we had a barbecue – slightly different than an American one – no hamburgers, but there were Kranviches (which are like our hotdogs), and lots of sausage type meat (called sudjuk and nadenitsa), no ketchup, but jars of Lyutenitsa (a tomatoey vegetabley substance)..everything tastes fantastic grilled outside. I have noticed recently more initiative being made by members of the group..this time, besides dancing, one of the members organized a couple of games with prizes first..I can’t remember my last gunny sack race..I was happy that I understood most of the trivia questions (in Bulgarian)..even if I couldn’t answer them..and I enjoyed watching the Ruchenitsa couples contest (a traditional Bulgarian dance) – it’s a fun dance to watch, but the timing proves hard for me to pick up. Here's a video I found online - As always..I have posted a few new pictures, from the first day of school, the banquet for the first day of school, and lunch with Geno. You will find these by scrolling to the end of the page, and clicking on Tricia's Newest Pics

Friday, September 9, 2011

Da, ami Ne, ami Ohee

This last weekend was Labor Day in the US, but here in Bulgaria, it was a different holiday we celebrated - the day Southern Bulgaria was re-unified with Bulgaria..(..it was originally separated after the Treaty of Berlin). To celebrate the long weekend, my favorite hiking group, Trapezitsa, and I visited for a few days the small remote island of Samothraki in the Northern Aegean Sea. In Samothraki there are few hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, and touristy places selling souvenirs..which is exactly why I liked it so much..that and swimming and snorkeling in the Aegean Sea, with sparkling clear water (I saw 2 small octopuses, and lots of colorful fish); and visited the Sanctuary of the Gods (ancient Hellenistic ruins uncovered) the statue of the goddess of Victory (also known as Nike) was originally found here, but is now shown in the Louvre museum in Paris; and hiked Mt. Fengari (said to be ‘where Poseidon sat up to watch the Trojan war…”). You can see around the entire island from the its peak. The hike up Fengari was difficult..really..we started out at 6:30 am and it was pretty much four hours of going straight up the mountain..which wasn’t bad while we were in the trees and shrubs..but once we got through that, we were scrambling over boulders and trying to keep our balance on large and small sliding rocks. Actually, the wife of the hiking clubs President, Netka (who is a really good hiker) had a bad tumble when we were having lunch at the summit..she ended up needing stitches. It did however, answer one of my questions – Is there a designated First-aid kit brought on our hikes..the answer is No..and I felt double bad; when I went to look for mine, I realized that the one time I actually needed it, I forgot to pack it. Fortunately there were two hikers that had brought band-aids. We saw so many other interesting sites as well, that you can see with descriptions in my pictures. Samothraki is high on my list for returning to one day..as fun and adventurous as our days were..there’s still so much more I want to see and do there. They have snorkeling, scuba diving, boat trips (to access other parts of the island), hiking, waterfalls, natural hot mineral springs. And, to make things a little more confusing for me while there: Da = yes in Bulgarian Ne = no in Bulgarian Ne = yes in Greece Ohee = No in Greece

Thursday, August 25, 2011

my thoughts..

As a Peace Corps volunteer I think that I am living like a Bulgarian..and oftentimes I am frustrated by my lack of money, like many Bulgarians are..but the truth is..I will never have to face many of the decisions they face on a regular basis. The below is a compilation of many situations I hear from Bulgarians, told in first person.

What if one day I woke up in my block apartment that is owned by my parents, that had been passed down from their parents and so on, and realize I have to go to work again at the factory..which I am not very motivated to do; especially since I haven’t been paid for my last month’s work..and knowing when I do get paid that it is less than 400 лв (~$350) / month. It is disheartening to know that the surrounding countries and other ex-Eastern bloc countries are faring better, and the constituents are receiving a higher level of pay. My husband makes more money working in England picking strawberries than he does working as a chief engineer here in Bulgaria..and he receives his paychecks regularly, whereas if the company I work for does not make enough money, I may not see my next paycheck for the next 3 months..maybe receiving partial checks, until the company is flush again..I start to wonder..should I leave our child with her grandparents and work overseas with him? We can make more money together, and send it back for her to have a better life? But is it a better life for my child to live without her parents, or for her to be able to have a bike, and new clothes, and food on the table.

My mother and father who are retired receive a monthly pension of about 150 лв (~$115) / month..that’s why they continue to keep the village house, (that is falling to pieces, and the roof caving in) with the garden. During the summer I help with the gardening and preserving when I can; but my long hours and sometimes 7 day work weeks keep me from helping as much as I’d like to. But I know if we don’t get these fruits and vegetables preserved for winter time, they won’t have enough food to survive the winter.

During the summer it is difficult to plan a vacation (which I haven’t taken in 7 years), because I am called in on a day-to-day basis at work, and because of the animals I have to take care of before and after work. I feed the chickens, turkeys, pigs, and goats..collect the milk and eggs..start the process to make the yogurt and cheese from the goats milk, and of course cook and do the laundry.

I know there are loans available through the bank, but my parents once had a bank account where they kept their life savings..and then one day they woke up, and the banks said there was no longer any money in the accounts (hyperinflation after the fall of communism). I don’t trust banks. I keep most of my money hidden..the only reason I use the bank is that my work requires I have an account for Direct Deposit..so the first of every month I stand in line with the others to withdraw the money. Even if I did begin to trust the bank again, there is no way that I could possibly get a loan. I have been working this factory job for the last 10 years..but my pay is not consistent enough. I can’t be sure of when my next paycheck will be,so more than likely I would default on the loan. But, my daughter graduates this year, and I know she will be going to University next year. I am so proud of her, but where am I going to come up with this money to put her through university?

But I am proud. I am proud to be a Bulgarian. Our country is small, yes, but to see our beautiful nature..the mountains (Rila, Pirin, Rhodope’s, Stara Planina), the Black Sea, our lengthy history dating back to Thracian times in 681 a.d.; the summer outdoor kitchens and patios with ceilings made by grape vines, used to make our very own wines and spirits. There are natural herbs and fruits that grow in abundance in the wild for use in fresh teas. It was Bulgarian monks who created the first Cyrillic alphabet, which we still use, in part to this day. We have managed to maintain our traditions through 70+ years of communism under the USSR, and 500 years under the Turkish yoke.

New Pics posted under Tricia's newest pics link at the bottom of the page..and listen to the new BG song (upper left) called Kolko mi lipsvash (How much I miss you).

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mazalat_Sokolovo Hike

This last hike rates right up there with the winter 2010 hike on Mt. Botev..so many pleasant surprises along the way. Our first hike on Friday was actually at night..under a full moon; which also just happened to be the evening of the Perseids meteor shower. We started the hike around 8pm, munching on blueberries and raspberries from the trees along the paths..yummy! We all had our headlamps, but once we made it out of the forest, the moon shined brightly enough..we turned off our lights and continued. The weather was cool, but not cold, with a nice gentle breeze, and a beautiful view of the cities below with the sunset turning the sky from red to orange.

I didn’t take pics this first day, since I’ve done this hike before. I did get some great pictures of the 12-hour hike on Saturday from the hut Mazalat, hiking six mountains, along the ridge-line (and petting wild horses that came right up to us!!), and then headed off with a smaller group to a side mountain that was looking pretty challenging. Needless to say, we were all pretty tired by that evening, and most of us retired to bed after a shower and eating. Oh..and Valentin, he speaks French a little..so while hiking we came upon a French couple..so it turns out they have been hiking for 4 months!! From France..now they were in the Stara Planina in Bulgaria, and they were headed to Istanbul. We all agreed..that is Extreme..

We really had amazing luck with clear views and beautiful weather everyday. Our last day was a ligher hike..with Kreme and I showing each other the different Horo’s (Bulgarian traditional dances) we had learned..and eating plump, bright reddish-pink raspberries given to us as we passed a farm, and picking delicious red and yellow plums from the trees, to eat along the way. There's a new set of pictures I have posted..which you can see by scrolling to the bottom of the page..and under Tricia’s links, click Tricia’s newest pics..the pics are from the hike. Oh..and I changed the Bulgarian song at the top of the blog – just click the Play button to hear a Bulgarian Rock song ‘Dai mi Vreme (Give me time). Here is my video from a new Harvest festival celebrated in one of my favorite villages I used to work in..

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Back from the States

A nice easy to listen to Bulgarian song reccommended from a good friend:

So, I recently went home..back to the United States to visit friends and family after living here in Bulgaria for two years..one of these days, I'll try to sit and write a little about it.

There were so many great things, like spending time with my mom, and seeing my brothers bar for the first time, and meeting my nephew (who I had not yet met)..but surprisingly there were a few things that disappointed me as well. The food, for example. I was really looking forward to eating a big juicy hamburger..or drinking a Dunkin Donuts coffee again. I guess after 2 years of fresh fruits and vegetables, and a different food menu here, my taste buds have changed a little. Oh..and seeing the waste of food everywhere..that was disappointing. I guess the worst thing though was sitting for 9 friggin hours waiting for a Delta flight, that ended messing up all my flights..flying is never fun.

OK..so, I posted some new pictures I took while in the United States..To see them, scroll to the bottom of this page and click on Tricia's New Pics.

Also, I change the songs weekly (maybe monthly) on the left hand side. They are Bulgarian songs..just click the play button to listen!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Graduations and ants and other

When you graduate from High School in Bulgaria, several things happen:
1. You stop attending classes for the month of May, after the written tests have been taken (the classes are required, the students just don’t show up)
2. At the end of May, in my town center, there was a big celebration with the students (all dressed up), teachers, parents, and residents..followed by a banquet-type ordeal. The next the day, the students go on an overnight excursion..often to the Black Sea, where they celebrate a Ball
3. Throughout the day, you hear over and over and over (in Bulgarian) – ‘1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12’...this is because they finally completed all 12 grades

..and not to complain too much, but there are ants everywhere. They are way worse this year. If only we would get paid, I can buy some ant spray or bait or something..I was telling my mom, they crawl right up on my laptop..they crawl on me..

I have been busy for some time now..but if you want to see more of what I’ve been up to, I labeled and posted some new pictures..just scroll to the bottom of this page and click on ‘Tricia’s new pics’. I’m going to try to get a few new ones up each day.

Oh..and for all my dear friends in the USA, I will be seeing you all soon!!

Oh..and also, I added a new BG song above..just click the play button.

And..if you have not seen the video of our performances at the traditional dance festival in Veliko Tarnovo called ‘Болярско Надиграване’, here is a link to watch all 3 of our dances. Our group name is Луда Мядо’ (crazy youth):

And here is another link to another of my favorite groups ‘Люти чушки’ (hot peppers):

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Babi = Grandma (kind of)

This was one of those many times I understood the words, but misunderstood the meaning..I was thinking we were going to a folk festival in Sofia..it was actually a recording of the babi’s for a traditional Bulgarian show. Nonetheless, it was a fun day. Danche’s daughter Anelia was kind enough to show me around Sofia, and explain to me the different buildings, and pointed out many details of Icons when visiting a museum (until now they’ve been a bit of an anomaly)..It was nice being in Sofia without getting lost for a change.

We also saw ‘Buddy Bears’ that are currently visiting Bulgaria. These are large plastic molds of bears that each country has painted..representative of the country, promoting tolerance and peace; and all of these bears are currently in Sofia, Bulgaria. I didn’t completely understand Bulgaria’s bear; Ani and I had many guesses to the meaning behind it:

I’m sure you might guess the USA bear:

For more pics, click on ‘Tricia’s new pics’ link at the bottom of the page.
Later, we returned to the recording studio, full of dancers, singers, the host, and the crowd. Click on the picture below to see a clip of how nicely everything came together.

От BabiRcdg_Sofia

On the drive home, a song came on that in Bulgaria, I often hear. The singer Toni Dimitrova, and the song ‘Хората говорят за теб’ The people talk about you. I hear this song so often..at banquets, in the evenings after hikes with the hiking group, on the ride home from Sofia..the song is at the top of the screen if you’d like to hear it.

Also, thank you all for making my Birthday last week so very special. I had a busy, yet fun-filled week. I saw Krushuna waterfalls, Devetashki caves, and had a successful environmental initiative with ‘Trapezitsa’ 1902, and received many wonderful gifts that will always remind me of my good friends here, and danced a little salsa..and the traditional BG dance group was awesome..they sang Happy Birthday to me, and we danced my current favorite two Horo’s; Syrtaki and Karakachanska horo.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

20 Days of Service in Bulgaria – A Day in Nature

It’s great when you realize that your decision to work with an organization in the future is the right decision. I worked hard to prepare for this day, and it was equally obvious that they worked hard as well.

Today we had participants of all ages (from the veteran group at 8 am, then my tourist group, then the youngest group – munchkins, then middle schoolers, and finally the high schoolers) helping us clean eco-trails, planting trees, answering trivia questions about trees, and writing pledges for the environment..and once the day started, it was a whirlwind that finally ended in a pleasant roundtable with a group of 12th graders from Veliko Tarnovo.

I have put up my pictures from today (as usual, they can be found at the bottom of this page on the link 'Tricia's new pics', with further details about the day)..unfortunately in talking with everyone it was difficult to take many pictures..seriously, I don’t think I stopped talking for 8 hours straight. I am hoping to grab pictures from friends to add, so you can get the full impact of the day.

I am so proud and happy how smoothly everything went today..and I know it could not have been the success it was without the help of many, many people..so, I will try to identify as many of you as possible –

Thank you to:
Georgi Dimitrov (Director of Trapezitsa), for helping organize and spread the word the entire event. None of this could have happened without his help.
Stancho Rousev (President of our hiking club), for inviting so many of our groups to attend
Paskal Paskalev (President of the Trapezitsa association), for joining us and helping with the days events
Petia Koedjikova, for helping translate during meetings, and helping with final preparations the evening before
Ilian Iliev – for translating the tree trivia questions
Desislava Koleva, for helping me flesh out my ideas with discussions
All my dear friends from the hiking club who came out today to help, and support this event..I was really surprised at they’re turnout. I know today was a working day for most people, and I really appreciate that they were able to come, even for a bit
Lilyana and Atanas from Peace Corps, for helping represent Peace Corps, helping set up, and helping me translate when I my Bulgarian faltered
Brian Corteville from the American embassy, for joining us, and speaking better Bulgarian than me, and making a speech about our environment
Didka, Galia, and their 12th grade students, for helping plant trees and participating in our events
The veterans hiking club, for beautifying the surroundings at Ksilifor and collecting many bags of trash
The students from Hristo Botev school, for helping plant trees and participating in our Tree Trivia
The students from the school Bacho Kiro, for helping plant trees, and participating in our Day in Nature
The staff at Trapezitsa, and Ksilifor, who did a wonderful job in helping prepare for our events
Tanya from Ksilifor, for helping paste together the ‘Tree of Pledges’

I know that I may be missing a few (there were more schools)..I apologize.

Thank you all for making such a great day to celebrate Peace Corps 20th Anniversary in Bulgaria/50th Anniversary in the world, and helping the environment.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Triglav, Spelling Bees

The hiking group I often go with went to Triglav (3 heads – 3 summits) last weekend. I went with all my favorite hikers; including Bai-Stan (his real name is Stanimir, but in BG they add the Bai – pronounced By – as a sign of respect, kind of like Big Brother). Bai-Stan and I often reminisce about our childhoods..and they are always so different..after all, he grew up in communism and is 15-20 years older than me.

My favorite story from him this time was when the village he grew up in got their first television – around 1963. Two of the first shows he remembers are Fury (about a white horse), and Lassie (I remember Lassie). There was only the one television in the entire village, with one channel..and as soon as Fury came on, he would run outside yelling ‘Fury, Fury..Fury is on”, and all the village kids would come running. The TV was set on a windowsill facing outside so everyone could watch it.

While travelling to the hike we saw a field of storks..and everyone cheered. They cheered because storks are a sign of Spring..and good luck. When they see a stork fly, they can finally remove the martenitsa..and hang it on a fruit tree..and make 3 wishes..if they saw the stork while it was in flight, it is even better luck. Martenitsas are worn from the first of March, Baba Marta Den (a BG holiday), until you see a stork. Martenitsa’s are bracelets made of red and white thread intertwined..sometimes with beads. The red thread symbolizes Health, and the white symbolizes a long life ahead..but, when talking to different Bulgarians, you will hear many different meanings of the red and white threads, very different from this.

Also, from this weekend is a favorite line I heard often ‘бяло вино, бяло вино, защо ти не си червено вино’..that is ‘White wine, white wine, why are you not red wine’. They explained that every song about wine is about red wine..and one day, someone decided to write a song about white wine..but in the end, it always comes back to the red wine.

The hike itself was nice..a little foggy, but we got a couple of great views. Once we were waiting, and waiting for the fog to lift..and finally the cold got to us..and as soon as we started walking away..up it lifted to reveal high cliffs and the top of the waterfall. I added some new pictures of the hike..the Spelling Bees’, and my kindergarten English class..you can find the link to the pictures at the bottom of the page labeled ‘Tricia’s new pictures’.

This week there are local Spelling Bees being held all over Bulgaria. In my town and villages, we are holding 4 of them..it has been pleasantly surprising how well many of the students spelled..I still have 2 more this week, and then they will have the regional competition mid-April. I think that spelling English words are particularly difficult, since in Bulgarian all their letters are always pronounced the same, weather spelling them, or saying them in a word. They don’t have a different sound when read..for example for them to spell ‘cat’ , instead of spelling it like C-A-T, they would spell it Kuh-aa-tuh..using the sounds of the letters.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Hahaha..I have to share this. There are many times when talking in Bulgarian with Bulgarians, there are miscommunications..due to the grammar, and the sentence structures, and the many words I don’t know; and every once in a while I misunderstand what someone is asking or telling me (especially Bulgarian proverbs and jokes).

moje6 li da mi napi6e6 na agliiski.......pla4a za teb......
Tricia Terrones: kato tova?
napi6i na angliiski izre4enieto
pla4a za teb
Tricia Terrones: you want me to write a sentence in English?
Tricia Terrones: Is that good?
Tricia Terrones: or do you want me to write more in English? :)
Is that good......kak se prevejda tova
Tricia Terrones: това добре, ли е?
az ne razbrah....molq otnovo....
pla4a za teb
Tricia Terrones: I like ice cream and popcorn
Tricia Terrones: Харесвам сладолед и поканки
abe...seriozna sam
napi6i mi.............pla4a za teb

Tricia Terrones: но..не разбирам..какво ме искаш да пиша на английски?
Tri6a.....napi6i mi na angliiski izre4enieto.................Az pla4a za teb.............
razbra li me
Tricia Terrones: My name is Tricia
Tricia Terrones: I am from Boston
Tricia Terrones: I like Bulgaria
Tricia Terrones: ok..ne ti razbiram
az pla4a za teb........tova e izre4enieto.........napi6i mi go na angliiski
Tricia Terrones: this is a sentence
Tricia Terrones: sentence
this is a sentence------tova se privejda...az pla4a za teb.....taka li
Tricia Terrones: da

Basically, what this text says, is she’s asking me to write in English..

I think she means to write in Latin characters, but still Bulgarian (because she only knows a few words in English)

Nope..she asks again..I’m begging you..can you write a sentence in English

So I make up a few questions.
..and she asks me for the translation
Nope..still not what she’s looking for
Ok..so, it continues on like this for a good 10 minutes, and I’m starting wonder..is someone pulling a gag on me..what am I not understanding?

Oooh..she was asking me to write ‘sentence’ in English..i still wonder if she’s for real..i’ll have to ask her on Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mt Botev, and conversation

This weekend was my favorite hike yet..a little adrenaline rushing, a little challenging..but so worth it.

First off, I have to thank so many BG hikers for making it possible. I borrowed a trekking pole from Stela (later to be traded for 2 trekking poles from Bai-Stan), sunglasses from Zarya, gaiters from Reneta, crampons from Stancho (for the ice).

When I decided to go on this hike, I never expected it to have such varying scenery. This 10 hour hike started from a small village, Vidima, and passed through the forest like most others..with snow and ice mixed in. Valentin patiently explained how to use the trekking poles in coordination with my steps when climbing steep icy patches. Later, after passing through the forest, we got to the first of the deeper snow. Sometimes we were walking on top of bushes, and sometimes a foot would slip further into the snow up to the knees..or sometimes, the trekking pole would get tangled in the bushes. And the mountain just continued looming ahead. From the parking lot the summit really didn’t seem that high. But every time I looked up, it was still no closer. When we finally made it to the ridge, it’s super sunny out (I don’t know if you can tell in the pics, but Stancho always strips down on hikes..and even on this one he went shirtless most of the time (until that wind hit us at the summit)..and I was so excited, because we were really close to the summit..just continue along the ridge ½ hour more, and surely we’ll be there

Darn..I didn’t see that valley that we have to go all the way down first, and then back up. My legs started to feel a little tight from going uphill for 5 hours straight now, in the snow. We stopped in at the hut at the bottom of the valley to eat a little, and leave our packs with our 4th person (Netka), so that we can summit the mountain quicker. The hike up was as expected..long and snowy..but the jog / skid back down the mountain was so much fun! I learned from Valentin – take bigger steps, but with your weight set back, and arms out front, so when you do fall, you don’t hurt yourself; but most of the time you’re pretty much skidding on your heels (until your shin hits a patch of ice..and that kinda hurt). By the time we get back to the hut, I’m starting to wonder how late it’s gonna be when we finally reach our final destination, Hija Pleven..this is where the remainder of our group went directly to, instead of summitting Botev with us. I mean, it was already 5 pm when we left the valley below Mt. Botev, and Stancho’s guesstimation was 3.5 more hours to the hut

By the time we reached the next peak (we’re now wearing crampons, because the melting snow has quickly turned hard and icy) we’re just in time to see a really beautiful sunset over all the different mountains in the distance..ok, but this also means that the next 3 hours are pretty much in the dark with our headlamps to guide us.

But it felt like we were maintaining a decent pace..when all of a sudden Valentin calls for me to stop so that the 4 of us can group up, and dress for the upcoming winds we will meet when descending the rocky ridge on the other side of the mountain. I’m thinking..how bad can it be. Hmmm..clearly, I had no clue. These were more like ice and snow covered boulders..and he was right, there was a pretty strong wind blowing as we started our descent. Some parts had a cable you could hang on to. Some parts, I would have one hand on the cable, and balance my steps with the pole in the other hand..and then sometimes, the rock were so steep and slick, you just had to hang on with both hands and do your best to maintain your footing..yet other times there would be no cable, or the boulder would be too big to acramble over, and that was the scariest, because even though it was dark out, I could still see the dropoff if I slipped or made a wrong step. (The guys later told me it’s even scarier during the day, when you can actually see where you’re descending). It really amazed me that no matter how tired I felt during parts of this hike, energy kept coming..I’d say during this rocky part, it might have been more adrenaline than energy. I tell you, I learned quickly many new Bulgarian words on this hike..many out of necessity during the descent.

So, we finally arrived one by one to the Pleven hut around 8:30pm. Everyone heads upstairs..except for me. I’d been waiting to have a beer since we reached the summit of Mt. Botev.

Our conversations that evening consisted of Tom & Jerry and the Pink Panther..they seemed to be pretty popular with this older generation. We also talked about Richard Glideman (or is it Glickman?). They also introduced me to their favorite Soviet-era cartoons (which after our discussions, I had to look up later to watch)..the three below I pulled from Youtube are pretty entertaining..

This one’s about a character Chebyrashka (чебурашка) – the monkey-like animal

This one is called Krokodilna Gena (крокодилна гена)
This is the translation someone posted of the song, since it’s not translated - Let pedestrians run clumsily through puddles And the water on the asphalt river It is not clear to passers-by in this day and bad weather Why am I so happy I play the harmonica at passers-by in sight Unfortunately birthday Only once a year Flies suddenly magician in the blue helicopter And free movie show Happy Birthday congratulate And probably leave me as a gift 500 Eskimo I play the harmonica at passers-by in sight Unfortunately birthday Only once a year

..and this one, absolutely everyone at the table seemed to like – N Y Pogodi (НУ Погоди)..there is no translation, but it’s not really needed. It kinda reminds me of the Wilde Coyote and the Road-runner..kinda

Stancho and I had a spirited debate about how much water the human body needs during a hike (I carry a 1.5 liter camelpack, and they carry a little 16 oz water bottle)..this was on after an earlier discussion on foods to eat during a hike – another topic where we think very differently; and finally Bai-stan assuring me that his calling me ‘monkey snot’ was meant as friendly banter. I love that this group strives to improve my Bulgarian with new words with every hike :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Баби Ден (Babi Den)

Баби Ден (Babi Den) - Grandmas day (when translated literally)

According to one of my colleagues, Babi Den will be celebrated on January 9th by many women, (historically midwives and grandmothers)..they gather, eat, drink, and gossip. Men are not allowed to participate during Babi Den..as a matter of fact, if a man shows up, the women may strip the man of all his clothes..interesting, right?

Oh..and on a sidenote, I know mentioned I was going to Dobrich this weekend to summit Mt. Botev, but when I was telling other members of the hiking group I belong to, they thought this was pretty funny because Dobrich and Mt. Botev are in opposite directions..apparently, I misheard my friend. So..a change of plans. Instead of Dobrich, I will go with another group of friends to Hija Pleven and summit the snowy Mt. Botev!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The holidays 2010 –sad, busy, fun

Yes, before Christmas came I was quite sad, and longing for home, friends, and family a bit..but quickly my days filled up with many banquets, school concerts, presentations and cultural center events. Unfortunately there are only a few pictures of all these events..as I had no camera, and the new pictures (found under ‘Tricia’s new Pics’ link at the bottom of the page) are those that friends have sent.

So, when talking with a friend from the village one day, I asked ‘How was Christmas celebrated before, during Communism’..and I kinda had an idea that it wasn’t a big celebration here..but it was still a surprise to hear her say that it wasn’t celebrated at all (or had to be celebrated discretely in homes). Oftentimes I hear Bulgarians refer to Дядо Коледа (Father Christmas / Santa Claus) as Дядо Мраз (Father Frost / Cold). For Christmas, here, many villagers will buy a pig during the fall, and on Christmas Day, they will kill it, using all parts of the pig. It is killed on Christmas Day, and not Christmas Eve because they do not eat meat on Christmas Eve.

I had no plans for Christmas, as I only wanted to talk with my family. It was great that we were all able to gather on Skype and talk together. However, one of my favorite students, and good friend, Hrisa, invited me to her home Christmas morning. They were killing a pig..and then, using all the pieces. Some will be eaten soon, some will be preserved for the future, some will be frozen, the skin will be eaten, the fat is boiled down to lard, and the feet will be jellied.

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t catch the early bus, and missed the actually killing of the pig. By the time I got there, the skin was off, the head was off, and the pig was in pieces on a sheet of plastic in the kitchen area. Later I went with Katia, another friend and learned how time consuming it is to make pitka (a type of bread roll eaten during holidays).

I was invited back to the village the next day by another friend, Snezha. That entire Christmas weekend I was a little tired and sick from lack of sleep during the busy week before..and these good friends took really good care of me. It was a very relaxing Christmas weekend

New Years in Uzana

I spent New Years with my favorite hiking group. We went to Uzana where I made many new friends from Varna and Dobrich (near the Black Sea)..in fact, I’ve been invited to visit Dobrich next weekend..we’ll be hiking Mount Botev (the highest of the peaks in the Stara Planina mountains.

I found the snow! That’s a part of what made it such a great New Years. I went on long hikes both days..you can see the pictures at the link on the bottom of this page. For New Years Eve there was so much food..yummy food, lots of meat, lots to drink..dancing, of course, champagne, and sparklers..then outside for the fireworks..ours, and all of the other huts in the area..the sky was lit up for some time. One guy had a flare gun and the fired it off a few times.

The next day we hiked to the summit of Mt. Ispolin, and then I continued to explore more of the nearby peaks. It was a great New Years weekend..just hiking, sleeping, eating, drinking and dancing.