02 August 2005

“It's all here—fast-kicking, low scoring, and ties? You bet!”

Sunday afternoon the boys (Ryan, Paris, and I) went to a football [soccer] game. The two local archrivals were playing—Levski and CSKA. Randomly we choose our tickets on the Levski side of the stadium, so we are now Levski fans—now we just need to go out an buy some blue Levski shirts, scarves, etc.

The ticket price was only 5 leva [$3.12], and a bottle of water was only 70 stotinka [$0.44]—that would cost five bucks at Williams Brice. Being a local event we learned that not everyone in Sofia speaks English, not the ticket sellers, or many of the police. Never the less we had a good time and learned some Levski cheers—although we don’t know what they mean. At the end of the second half the score was tied 1:1, so the game went into an extra period. With the score still tied, penalty kicks finally resolved the stalemate resulting in a Levski victory—and the crowd went wild!

The quote in the title comes from The Simpsons episode 5F01, where an exhibition soccer game results in “mob rule” and Homer gets a handgun. Well, we did see some boisterous behavior at the game—in the “Ultra” fan section. A scuffle broke out and police in riot gear (who where stationed everywhere in and around the stadium) pushed into the crowd as water bottles and road flares were tossed down at them. We didn’t experience any of this in our section, but upon trying to leave noticed they had locked the exits giving the fans of the opposing team time to leave unmolested.

Monday morning it was back to language training again. Afterward, I finally met Vessela for lunch; we caught up with what we had been doing as well as mutual friends/classmates in the intervening couple of months since graduation. Its great to see a familiar face in a strange new place.

That afternoon the cable guys finally came; however, they were not from the cable TV company but a small, wired Internet provider. They have actually strung Ethernet cable all over town (quite sloppy, if you ask me—you'll see bundles of Cat5, coax, and telephone cables zip-tied together and strung along and between buildings all around the city.) I get about 250 kbps (which should be adequate for Skype,) and it cost only 25 leva per month!

It has been unusually hot (for Sofia) since we arrived, so once again Doriana put off the day’s cultural training/survival skills until 5:00pm. We toured the shopping district and street market that Ben and I had discovered on our own last year, and then had ice cream. Likewise, Tuesday afternoon we met around five, had ice cream, and explored more Sofia streets. The ice cream here is the excellent Italian-style gelato, like I had in Vienna—great stuff!

Tonight—Thanks to Rich (MBAEC 2004)—I met a bunch of Habitat for Humanity volunteers here on a short term project, and then some Peace Corp people stationed around Bulgaria who were celebrating the completion of one member's two year stint here.

Well, since I didn’t publish this before, I am now. It looks exactly the same as last year. This is “Women’s Market” featuring mainly produce and clothing. In the background is the ever-present Vitosha mountains.

Women's Market
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