In Varna, I had to wait a few days for my counterpart, Iliyan, to return from a summit in Brussels on transparency in eurofunds for Bulgaria. I asked him what I should do until he gets back and he told me to exercise! =) I arrived to beautiful weather and made use of it by reacquainting myself to my old home.
|Guy taking a break from the day with 1.5 liters of wine and the company of Old St. Nick, the giver of fish!|
|Gal filling up her old water bottle with some stank mineral water that tastes like rotten dragon eggs.|
In actively striving to make the most out of my time here, I decided to host some guests for my first Friday night. I love being a guest, and I love hanging out with people, but it's another matter entirely to host guests in Bulgaria. Here, the host has the responsibility of making sure that there's enough food and drink for everyone, that everyone's glass is always full, that the temperature is just right, that everyone's having a good time, etc. It's more along the lines of being a server at a restaurant than simply hanging out with your good friends. But it's still a very good time - especially with such great people! Helene, the French gal with whom I used to volunteer in 2006; Darina, the woman from whom I asked for 10 children for a project, but my Bulgarian accidentally said that I wanted to make 10 children with her; Nora, the gal who teaches me most of my Bulgarian slang; and Aaron and Sara, a young married couple who are currently serving volunteers in Varna.In the middle of our fun, Darina endearingly called me a "fucker" or at least that's the closest translation we could find. Aaron and Sara, not knowing me very well, and wanting to learn more Bulgarian, did some research on the word in the following days. Someone told them that it meant, "a guy who has lots of sex with lots of women." Pretty literal, I guess. Later in the week, I was expressing my concern to Iliyan that I think these two were getting the wrong impression of me. He pointed to the wall where he keeps a collection of Bulgarian proverbs. The one he pointed to translates to something like this: "Everyone can be a hero. It just depends on how his friends talk about him." Not quite the consolation I was looking for, although he insisted it was a great compliment.
My first day in the office was more of a reunion than a productive day of work. Iliyan called me around 10am and said, "Are you coming to the office?" =) We "caught up" for the first hour or so and then opened a bottle of a whiskey. We talked and joked a bit more and then migrated towards our computers.In attempting to be consistent with Bulgarian traditions, I brought a box of liquor-filled chocolates with me to work. Typically, when someone gets something new, or has a birthday or whatever, they "treat" their colleagues or friends with some kind of chocolate. So, I walked around all day saying a rough equivalent to congratulations on your Andrew, and handed out treats!