Archive for September, 2009

Post Peace Corps Road Trip: Balkan Blitzkrieg

15 September, 2009

After I finish my service in the Peace Corps in the next two weeks, I will be heading out on a Balkan Road trip. To where? you ask. Here’s a handy map!

Sept 24: Anita and I pickup our rental car and we hit the road to Ohrid, Macedonia (via Skopje).

Sept 25 Spending the night in Ohird, we head to Gjirokaster, Albania where we’ll spend the night and hang out with some Albanian PCVs. I have been told that there will be a once-every-five-year Albanian folklore festival. I’m really looking forward to seeing this and meeting up with several other PCVs.

Sept 26 The next day we’ll drive up the Albania coast and spend the night somewhere along the way.

Sept 27,28 The following two days, we’ll spend the night in Kotor, Montenegro. Kotor is home to the deepest fjord in Europe and is considered Dubrovnik’s little sister.

Sept 29 The next day, we’ll drive to Dubrovnik, Croatia for a short day trip. As you may remember, I have already been to Dubrovnik but it’s in the neighborhood.

Sept 29, Oct 1, 2 After spending time in Dubrovnik, we head on to Mostar, Bosnia for a day or two. After this, we head on to Sarajevo for the night. (I have three days alloted for Mostar and Sarajevo however we want to divvy them up)

Oct 3rd start heading back to Bulgaria, route to be determined! We’ll most likely spend the night in a national park in Montenegro.

Oct 4th return to Bulgaria.



The Light at the End of the Tunnel

13 September, 2009

My Peace Corps adventure is coming to a close.

It is hard to believe that two years can fly by so fast, and yet, crawl so slowly. In the past few weeks, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect over what I have done and my decision to join the Peace Corps and how that decision has impacted my life. Clearly, I am no longer the same person- I now consider a country that I previously only had an idea where it was located on a map as my second home.

I came with only one goal in mind (despite being told to have have no goals or expectations)–to make a difference. Have I achieved this goal? In ways I never suspected I could.  Have I changed? Irreversibly. I now see the world in a much different light, I’ve seen how so many can do with so little, what true oppression and hardship look like and most of all, the influence the allure the United States really has on the world. I was so impressed with how closely my Bulgarian friends followed the US Presidential elections. On female teacher told me that Hillary Clinton was her greatest inspiration because she showed what women can achieve.

But before I learned all of this, I had to go through training.  As part of my 11 weeks of training, I lived with a family of Bulgarians. When I first meet this kind family, I could only tell tell them that I loved cucumbers (which isn’t true) and could ask if there was hot water.

My host family, the Kamzholivis

My host family in Rila

Extreme cultural sensitivity on both sides bridged the language barrier and I quickly found myself a part of their family; traveling six to seven hours to spend Christmases and Easter with them.

Christmas Dinner

Christmas Dinner

This acceptance wasn’t limited to a single family who took care of me during my training. There were many many people and families that helped this hapless American in the first frightening months of service (and it should be noted, those months fall on one of the coldest winters in recent memory). Their kindness and generosity were gave me the strength I needed to get through the winter and gave me confidence that I can to it.

My dance team and I

Me with my kindergarten class, Christmas 2008

Me with my kindergarten class, Christmas 2008