Weekend Update

    I was planning for a calm weekend at home but I instead did a bit of traveling. I spent Saturday in Stara Zagora with a PCV. We ate lunch at an Italian restaurant and then strolled around town. We met up with another PCV. Cindy had invited me to Karlovo for Ivanden. I planned on catching the train as the weather conditions were pretty poor with lots of snow and ice. (I, in fact, had witnessed a car accident on the freeway due to the slick roads when taking the bus to Stara). I arrived at the train station at 18:00 to catch my 18:30 train. I discovered it was 30 minutes late. I bought my train ticket to Tulovo, which is a really small town were I’d make the connection to Karlovo. I would have a 45 minute layover there. Tulovo is a really really small town where every train going North of Stara has to pass through. It gets a disproportionate about of traffic to its size because it is where the rails split to North, East and West. Keeping this in mind with my 30 minute delay and my dying cell phone, I boarded the train.

    But we sat there. For 45 minutes. We didn’t depart Stara Zagora until 19:45. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach; I had no idea when the next train out of Tulovo would be. As the train pulled in, I jumped off the train-while it was still moving-and ran to the ticket counter. My heart plummeted: no train would be arriving or departing for the next five hours. I was stuck in a small little town in the middle of no where in the freezing cold. I raced outside and went to the police kiosk. I asked the officer on duty when the next train to Karlovo was. He just responded “Follow me”. So I did. We boarded the train I had just got off but passed through it to the other side. There, sitting on the third track, was the train to Karlovo. They had purposely delayed it for people like me would have missed it with train delays all over the country. I was overjoyed and thank him profusely. The rest of the trip went uneventfully.When I finally got to Karlovo, I met Cindy and made dinner with her and Roger. I was exhausted and headed to bed shortly after.

    I was in Karlovo for Ivanden or the feast day of St. John the Baptist. The local priest or holy man carries a crucifix through town to the river or other body of water. He then blesses it and throws it into the frigid water. Participants then jump into the freezing water and fight over the cross. Whoever finds the cross goes around town where people kiss it and people give the winner money. The man keeps the money and uses it to treat his friends. The plan was to meet Cindy’s co-worker’s husband who is a police officer. He would take us (in a police car!) to the event. However, we waited outside the police station and he never showed up. We instead strolled around Karlovo and bought some fresh bread from a small bakery.

    I caught the train back to Chirpan through Plovdiv (the second largest city in the country). While in Plovdiv, I bought a duner. Duners are a magical food; sheer happiness. It’s a cross between a gyro and burrito with chicken, pork, French fries, cucumber or lettuce, tomato and garlic sauce. Satisfied with dinner, I hoped on the train to Chirpan. An elderly man joined me in my compartment and I struck up a conversation with him.

    His name was Ditso and pretty much gave me the rundown of his entire family history, starting with his grandfather. It really made me want to study my Bulgarian harder since pretty much had no idea what he was saying. The gist was: he was an engineer, his daughter (or grand daughter) is and English speaking gymnast. He went on to talk about missiles (I was really interested but had no idea what he was saying about them) and told me that Bulgarians invented the computer (I’m assuming he’s referring to John Atanasoff who is of Bulgarian descent). Before he disembarked, he gave me his phone number and invited me to his house some time. I would love to, but he lives in a really remote village.

    That, in a nutshell, was my weekend.


One Response to “Weekend Update”

  1. thomas Says:

    I know what you mean about not understanding what seem to be really interesting conversations. Sometimes I wish I could record them and decipher them later to study, but, then I scratch that idea because then people would definitely think I am a spy.

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