One of those days

Where everything seems to go well. I didn’t get much done with my projects. However, it was a good day in terms of integrating. Last night I had my site mate and her Bulgarian boyfriend over for dinner. In order to prepare for the meal, I stopped by my baba’s for some onions and tomatoes. When I made chili over the weekend, I saved some and a little corn bread for her and her husband. She loved and thanked me profusely.

That evening I pretty much spoke Bulgarian until my vocabulary had been exhausted. We made chicken fajitas, probably the most flavorful meal I’ve had while in Bulgaria. While we ate, her boyfriend told us stories of what it was like living under Communism. He and other men from his village would sneak across the border into Greece to find work. It took them two days-by foot-to get there. Once they were there, they spent three months earning wages they could bring back home. It was quite an interesting and resilient story. He currently works construction in Sofia. Back to today:

I woke up late and dashed to work. I apologized for being late and they seemed confused as to what I was doing. It came time to teach and I walked to school. Last night I baked cookies for the teachers since I wasn’t able to go to school on my birthday. They were absolutely delighted and in disbelief that a guy could make such a thing. I was told several times that I cannot leave Bulgaria as I am a Bulgarian woman’s dream: a man who can cook. I was deeply flattered. One teacher didn’t believe it was my birthday as the computer said it was in April (?). They gave me an ash tray and a daily planner.

When walking home, I was stopped a few times to talk to some students and people I knew. As I got closer to the Obshtina, one of the municipal workers called out to me and waved. I waved back. It felt good being recognized around town. Since it was a slow day at work, I was told I could go home and work from there if I wanted. I made it home and I noticed a letter in an abandoned mailbox. It was my absentee ballot for the Missouri Presidential Primary! I was a bit annoyed that the elections board didn’t sent my ballot to the mailing address I listed. However I was excited to get to vote in the Primary. I headed out and set to walk back to the office to fill out my ballot

One the way there, a car stopped and the driver waved at me to get in. It was the municipal driver I saw earlier. In the car were two of my colleagues that I accompanied when I went to the medical center in Zetevo. They were very interested in my ballot and my explanation on how the American political process should work. After we got to the Obshtina, I thanked them for the ride and went up to my office. There, I again explained the political process to my colleagues and filled out my ballot. They were also very interested. I headed out to the post office to mail it out. I got a very puzzled look from the post lady. I think she was confused with all the official looking writing on the front as well as the check list on the back of the envelop. However, she eventually took it. It cost me 1.70 leva (about $1.30) to vote.

While I was there, I bumped into my former counterpart. We caught up with what we had been up to. I felt so accomplished holding this long conversation, in Bulgarian, in the post office lobby. She wished me a happy birthday and told me to call her if I ever need her help. I told her that I hoped she can make it to the charity tournament.


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