August 5, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Alaskan Bulgarian

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Bulgaria: Peace Corps Bulgaria: The Peace Corps in Bulgaria: August 5, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Alaskan Bulgarian

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, August 10, 2003 - 12:43 pm: Edit Post

Alaskan Bulgarian

Alaskan Bulgarian

This site is a sort of online journal. I update it roughly once a day with entries usually no shorter than 100 words or so. It's intent is to provide those back home in the States a means of knowing I still breathe when sending out multiple e-mails would be impossible. I'm presently in Bulgaria, learning the language and teaching English for two years with the Peace Corps.

For those not familiar with the Rob Young Experience, a brief bio. I am a 6'7, 22 year-old tall guy recently graduated from UCLA. If I must impose a role on myself, I guess I'm libertarian-ish. I'm generally right in the middle, but I tend to lean left morally and right politically. So I imagine that's what you can expect out of me, if you want to generalize.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003


The newbies come in today! The B-14s arrive in Sofia this very day. This is awfully strange. I've only been here four months and already I'm no longer a rookie. Of course, none of these new people are teachers, so I'm still a new TEFL, but they're new to Bulgaria. Some have written to me after finding the site, asking me about Bulgaria, life here, etc. They seem like good, hearty folk. The Youth Development volunteers seem a bit scared about possibly living in Strelcha (as I've previously described it, not as the decent town it really is) for three months, but I'm sure they'll get over it.

Also, I was - for some reason I can't remember - looking over my own archives earlier and found this gem from before I left.

--I've seen quite a bit of the ouvre Seinfeld and every Curb Your Enthusiasm, but neither show is among the things I think I might miss when I leave the States. In fact, I know I won't miss them. Life will go on without them and it seems ridiculous to me to think it would be otherwise.

Well, I was more or less right. I have no idea if I'll ever get to see some LD genius here in Bulgaria, and it really doesn't bother me that much.

What is interesting is the Simpsons/Seinfeld/CYE quote or reference ratio here among the volunteers. I think Simpsons wins out on quantity, but the best stuff often comes from Seinfeld, and both of these shows are referenced a lot in conversation here. Depending on who I hang out with, Simpsons will usually be brought up at least once a day in some form or other, and Seinfeld springs up every now and then, but mostly when describing people. I once, without really thinking about it, called someone a "close-talker" and the person I was talking to picked that one out right away.

Make no mistake, Seinfeld and the Simpsons are the stuff of life these days, and I really don't feel nerdy thinking that. When once people quoted the Bible or Shakespeare, we now have The Simpsons and Seinfeld to describe life anywhere in the world. Frankly, conversation is much more entertaining this way, and people laugh more. Whether it's intellectually or philosophically better can be left up to debate. But as long as I can say "To alcohol: the cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems," and know that people will know I'm paying homage to the newer Homer, life will be good.

Being original is always paramount, and the world would be nowhere without new stuff coming from the pens and mouths of people every hour of every day. But sometimes things have already been said well enough, and the humor and poignancy is only emphasized by a common knowledge. Thank god we have Matt Groening and Larry David to thank for a lot of that knowledge.



Last Thursday, my little English seminar group took a trip up the hill south of town to visit the Turkish fortress there and get a view of town from the TV tower up there as well. We did both, seeing the TV tower first and getting the view you see at the top of this entry. It was a hazy day, unfortunately, and it's hard to see Romania in this photo, but it's there, and it's mostly farm land, so you aren't missing much. My apartment building is somewhere on the left edge of the photo, but you can't really see it here, either.

What you can see, obviously, is the center of town, and that much of the city is very green. There are trees everywhere here, and the parks and walkways are kept very clean.

We also got this view of the Turkish fortress:

The walls used to be about 18 feet higher, apparently. The main entrance is at the end of that cobblestone path going into the fortress on the right side. The arc-like building was the barracks. The acoustics are so strange that you can stand on one end of the arc, speak normally, and be heard on the other end. It must have boomed when the troops snored.

Near the upper end of the barracks is the tunnel that could - feasibly - take a person from the fortress down to the river. A sort of escape hatch. Of course, I haven't seen the river exit yet, nor do I know if it still exists or if the tunnel is still passable all of the way through. I don't think exploring that tunnel will be on my list of things to do. Especially since the people that run the fortress, you know, keep it locked up and say people shouldn't go down there. Not that that would otherwise stop me, but it helps.

The fortress was just recently remodeled and regulated so there was a little bit of vandalism, but the place has, on the whole, been cleaned up pretty well. It was built shortly after the Napoleonic wars in the 19th century and formed one corner of a square of fortress cities that included Ruse, Shumen, and Varna. This is the last of the fortresses still standing, all the others were destroyed by the Russians during the war that freed Bulgaria in the late 19th century.

This path runs around the inside wall of the fortress, and it would really be something with 18 more feet at the top. As it is now, the wall seems very formidable. Didn't really help the Turks too much, though. One fortress still standing doesn't really win a war.

Today, we visited Silistra's ethnographic museum, a gathering of artifacts and bits of Bulgarian life from about 100 years ago. There was nothing incredibly surprising there, but it was fascinating to see old black and white photos of some of the local houses that are still standing. Most of the houses along the river that show a date come from around the the turn of the century, although the earliest I've seen is 1879.

It's an old city, and the people here seem to have the desire to remember its history well. The next stop on our tour will be the Archeological museum Thursday. We'll see what that turns up.


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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Bulgaria; PCVs in the Field - Bulgaria; Blof



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