18 December 2005
After some last-minute preparations Friday evening, I waited for my guests to arrive. My first guest, Jennifer the Peace Corp Volunteer, arrived around 7:30 after searching a good part of my neighborhood. We talked about the environmental NGO she wants to start (and that I’m assisting her with) until the next batch of people arrived: three of Julia’s coworkers from Job Tiger (pictured to the right.) Julia showed up a little later with much needed and delicious snacks. Monica, as a Bulgarian, also explored all of Gurgulyat Street before finding my door, but everyone else seemed to have found my place with little problem.
Apparently it is traditional to bring a bottle of wine with you to a party; at one point there were at least 8 bottles of merlot on my counter; however, by the end all but one were empty. I also scored a nice sweater from Niltay, a Cyrillic keyboard from Paris, a business card holder pre-populated with Job Tiger cards, a wall calendar from Doriana (VEGA), and a candle. Thank you all! (BTW, the picture to the right is the Serdon contingent: Gergana, myself, and Vlado.)
I had my computer plugged into the stereo system, and Delcho became our DJ, playing from my library as well as downloading songs from the net. Everyone was commenting on the yellow color scheme of my place, so at one point he downloaded the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, to which we heartily sang along.
According to the timestamps on my pictures the party lasted until 1:00 am. A final count—to the best of my recollection—would include 9 Bulgarians, 2 Turks, and 6 Americans for a grand total of 17 people in my little apartment! Everyone seemed to have good time and make some new friends (I’m especially pleased that Jennifer was able to network with some Sofia residents for her NGO) In general, I would have to say it was a smashing success in that nothing got smashed or otherwise broken! ;-)
The aftermath: I spent a good part of Saturday morning cleaning my apartment. Even now, I need to make a second pass over all the floors to get my place back to pre-party conditions. Note all the glasses I had to wash (right.)
When I peeked out of the window Saturday, there was a nice, fresh blanket of snow on the ground, and it was still furiously snowing—throughout the rest of the weekend, in fact. That afternoon, I joined the Hash House Harriers for a walk in the park. Since there was little wind and big, fluffy flakes, the trees were laden with snow—very beautiful. Walking under low hanging branches it was, of course, tempting to give the branch a little tug as I walked by and watch the person behind me (usually Monica) get their own personal snow shower. Later, I figured out that I could give small trees (about 6 inches in diameter) a sharp kick, and after about 5 seconds an avalanche of snow from all branches would douse the 2nd or 3rd person behind me. Eventually this devolved into a snowball fight, especially with the kids. In any case, it was all great wintertime fun ending with Dutch gluwein for the “down downs.”
Sunday morning, the accumulations were now at least one foot, but everything was still running despite a not seeing a single snowplow on the roads all weekend (unlike South Carolina, which shuts down for a trace of snow.) I caught a tram to church and had a nice lunch at Divaka afterward just like any other Sunday. The only hardship is negotiating un-shoveled sidewalks as a pedestrian (especially at the curb were slush and standing water due to snow-clogged drains are guaranteed to get your boots soaked.)
Even now, under a bright sunny but cold sky, it is a veritable winter wonderland out there; and I—as a southern boy—am still loving it! Again, I am posting my outdoor/weather-related photos to Wunderground.com; check 'em out.