Like grant proposals through the hands of USAID, these are the projects of my life!

Peace Corps Response 2011-2012
Peace Corps Response 2010-2011
University for Peace! 2008-2009
Supercross08! 2008
Peace Corps! 2005-2007

An obligatory disclaimer: Everything I have written, has been written by me. All of my own views, expressed hereinafter, are my own views. If you needed to read this disclaimer to know these things, you're a silly goose!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Let Me Go On... Like Bulgaria In The Sun!

I decided to come back to Bulgaria for my winter break this year. The Peace Corps made its exit over the summer so I'm here on my own dime, but it's worth it to me. I really like this place! I'm volunteering for my original Peace Corps hosting organization, Public Environmental Center for Sustainable Development. We run a waste paper recycling campaign and my main assignment is to help with that, but I'll also be presenting various environmental topics to local schools. I thought I'd also be helping design a materials recovery facility, but that seems to have gotten lost in translation... Instead, I will explore my network here to set up something similar to Portland's Master Recycler Program.
That'll all be fine and dandy, and my resume will look great, but I'm really here cause I love the adventure! I love the interactions, and the Bulgarian way of life, and the Bulgarian style, and all the new concepts I discover, and developing (remembering) my language skills! Plus, I have super wonderful friends here! Not that I don't have super wonderful friends elsewhere, too. Two years have passed since I departed to tears and wishes of return. Well, here I am!
It's crazy to see Varna after a two year absence. There are many new businesses - and many businesses have simply changed locations (?). The seven to twelve malls I wrote about two years ago have been reduced to two. One has been repurposed as an office building, two are completely empty and closed up, one was built but never even opened, and I'm not sure about the others. Bulgaria has changed sooo much! But Bulgarians haven't!

I've been trying hard to maintain my workouts, but I'm failing at maintaining my nutrition. I'm living in Iliyan's attic for free, in return for my help with his organization. He thinks I'm nuts for how I want to eat, and since we share most meals together, I usually end up eating what he wants to eat. Not really a big deal... But, I've already tightened my belt one notch after being here for only 10 days. I was expecting to lose a little weight, but not so fast.
Entrance to my new gym. Wasn't hard to find, and the pictures inside are very motivational.
On our first day of collecting paper, we went to one of Varna's universities. We stopped by a new office to deliver a cardboard box so that they too could start collecting their waste paper for recycling. As we folded the box to tape it together it made a hole in the bottom of the box and the two ladies watching us work had the following conversation:

Bulgarka1: "Hey, look at that hole! It's big!"
Bulgarka2: "Yeah, it looks like your hole!"
Bulgarka1: "Ha! Yeah, mine is big, but not that big!"

I wasn't sure I was understanding them correctly, but Iliyan confirmed their chatter once we got back to the truck. We had a good laugh as he explained that this is how women always speak to each other, and we just happened to get lucky in the moment cause they don't usually talk like that in front of men! Haha!
Most people I encounter have a pretty good sense of humor, and seem to easily make light of many heavy situations. It could be a Bulgarian thing, but it's probably more likely just a thing with the people I hang around. They're relentless, though.

I tore a ligament in my right wrist over the summer so I've been wearing a brace on my hand for the last month or so. I have two months left to go. Back in Portland, the guys at work ribbed me by saying my injury was due to Chronic Masturbation Syndrome, or CMS. When I arrived, Iliyan immediately asked me what happened to my hand. I told him I had CMS, cause that's how guys talk to each other. =) He thought that was the funniest thing ever and has been introducing the joke to everyone I meet... It's almost always followed by what seems like an off the cuff joke. "Three guys were talking about their weekend. The first said, 'Man, I had the best sex. We did it this way and that way, and it was scary good!' The second one said, 'Hey man, I had a threesome with two of the most beautiful girls you've ever seen!' And the third one said, 'I masturbated so hard, I fell to my knees and cried!'" I laugh because these jokes are so ridiculous! And they never stop. "I'm gonna have a threesome tonight! Myself, my right hand, and my left hand!"

These questionably inappropriate jokes are told among all kinds of company, despite Iliyan's explanation of gender-limiting circumstances. Of course, what's appropriate has new rules in this seemingly unfiltered society.
Sweet for the ladies. Strong for the gents. This place is good to the last drop, and I'm definitely filled to the rim with excitement! It's the best part of waking up!


Anonymous said...

I hope the CMS doesn't keep you from he dance clubs.

Anonymous said...

I applaud your fearless honesty about your CMS. No one should have to suffer alone, in embarassed silence, about this painful debilitating condition. Hopefully the damage is not yet too severe, and you are able to eventually recover.


Inquisitive Mind said...

So awesome you're back Andrew! Enjoy every minute if it, as I know you will :).