Back in Action

I’m back in Chirpan after spending pretty much all of last week in Hissar for In-Service Training and PDM (Project Design and Management) was part of IST. For the most part it was redundant and just re-enforced/organized what I already knew. It was great seeing everyone again and a little overwhelming. This was the most Americans I have been around since being sworn in. By the end of the week, there were over 200 Peace Corps related people at the hotel. Side note: the hotel had a pool and it felt so good getting back in the water! Especially in February (being a former collegiate swimmer, it felt wrong being out of the water for some seven months).

The one thing I really learn in IST was how much I missed my site. It was odd. It was the longest I had been away from Chirpan and by midweek, I just wanted to get back. The remainder of the week, I felt like I was in a funk. That surprised me. I wasn’t expecting to get so attached to my town so quirky. But I guess it makes sense, it’s my oasis in a sea of unfamiliarity.

That evening I was invited to a party the mayor was throwing. The Bulgarian Supreme Court overturned the Stara Zagora’s ruling and declared the re-elected mayor the mayor.  He was throwing a party to celebrate. As soon as I walked through the door, several people greeted me, wanting to know how I was, where I was and to sit with them. It was such a great feeling to be wanted. I sat down and enjoyed a traditional Bulgarian meal (with what seemed like a bottomless glass of rakiya). But I truly felt accepted after the mayor gave a speech thanking everyone. He then walked over to where I was sitting and personally thanked me for my work. I felt a great sense of accomplishment!

The rest of the evening was spent eating, drinking and dancing the horo. I honestly don’t know how Bulgarians can party so long. I got tired and left after a paltry four and half hours. My new goal to achieve by COS (Completion of Service) is to stay at a party until it ends.

A PCV from a nearby town was spending the weekend with Andrea and I met up with them on Saturday to take advantage of the sunshine. That was deceivingly cold. It was 28F with a strong wind. I showed them the football field where the football tournament on April 12th will be. A game had just started. It looked like the youth teams from the professional teams in Plovdiv and Chirpan were playing. It was so cold that most the spectators stayed in their cars to watch!

Andrea’s boyfriend came to town and we went to a cafe where one of our friends works. We talked to her for a while and then went grocery shopping for dinner (curry!). Cindy came from Karlovo later that evening and the five of us had dinner together. It was really good. However, I was disappointed to find that the beef we ate wasn’t from Chirpan. Rather, Andrea’s Bulgarian boyfriend had brought it with him after he helped kill it when he was last in his village. I have yet to find a steak in the market here… Dinner was such a great time and I hope the five of us can do it again some time soon.

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