Christmastime!

This is my second Christmas (Коледа) in Bulgaria (my first is here). This Christmas season has largely snuck up on me since I’m well adjusted to life in Bulgaria and I was in the US for Thanksgiving. It’s very hard to believe that it’s Christmas Eve already! Since time has flown by so quickly, I’ve had a hard time planning lessons for my kindergarten English class. For example, I chose several Christmas related words I wanted to teach them and then play Bingo (a class favorite). I though I would start teaching them last Thursday. However, my class got a visit from this dude:

My students’ parents had bought presents for their children and gave them to him to give to my class. Over the next several minutes, I watched pure excitement and joy unfold in front of me. It was awesome.

This dude’s present was almost as big has him!

I got the opportunity to sit on Diyado Koleda’s lap, but declined (he had canker sores. Ew.)

Since then entire class now had Christmas presents and wanting to keep my reputation as the most popular American English teacher at the kindergarten, I watched them play. Rough day: watching kids run around the room in excitement with their new toys.

Koleda

Getting random visits from Diyado Koleda aside, I still had a hard time teaching this week. I was told that I would teach on the 22nd and 23rd with the 24th off. Turns out: nope. The class on the 22nd was paltry and classes on the 23rd end at noon (I teach at 2). So…I helped the kids color Christmas/holiday themed worksheets. Again, rough day.

Christmastime is also known for holiday parties. The dance team had three last week. Yep. Three. We also had our holiday concert, which went off without a hitch. Last Friday was the municipal holiday party. Soooo much fun. The entire obshtina packed into a small restaurant (mostly likely in violation of fire code. Also most likely not in violation as the fire marshal was surely there ;-)). There was plenty of drinking and tons of dancing. The mash up of songs had no rhyme or reason. We went from 50’s old school rock to 80’s hair music to Bulgarian folk music to Euro pop techno back to 80’s music and then to chalga. Basically, it was awesome. I and two other volunteers rocked out for five hours or so (hardly “rocking out” by Bulgarian standards. I think you need at least eight hours for that). We left short after members of the local government started preforming a strip tease. Again, awesome times were had by all.

This evening was the teacher’s holiday party. It was more tame than the bureaucrats’ party, but fun nonetheless. It was at the best (as I’m told) restaurant in town. We had a good time and I brought everyone chocolate chip cookies (I have gained a reputation of making the best in town. Or at least, the only chocolate chip cookies in town…).

That leaves to Christmas and the New Year’s. I leave tomorrow morning (or actually in a few hours…) to Rila, my training site where I learned Bulgarian for three months. I’ll be spending it with my host family. On the way back to Chirpan, I’ll be spending the night in Sofia to see the Nutcracker as preformed by the Russian National Ballet Troupe (!). I’m really looking forward to it. Apparently people from all over the world come to Bulgaria to see this performance. Thankfully, I was able to find some cheap tickets.

For the New Year, I’ll be spending it up in the Stara Planina in a hija (mountain lodge) with a few other volunteers and several Bulgarians. A warm bed, interesting characters, lots of food and drink–what else could be better?

I’ll be back blogging here in January. Wow…2009…the year I finish the Peace Corps!

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