23 March 2006

It's Bulgaria out there

As strange as it seems for someone living here for 8 months now, I often think to myself “It’s Bulgaria out here!” whenever I leave an expat gathering or my own apartment (where I am enveloped in English language music, TV programming, Internet content, and periodicals.) It is actually easy forget you’re in a foreign country until you step outside and are confronted by a still unfamiliar land filled with a distinctive and relatively homogeneous population that speak this strange language—Bulgarian. Actually, I understand a little more each day; at this point I’m really comfortable reading signs, ordering at restaurants, asking for stuff in stores, and explaining where I want to go to taxi drivers. Never the less, I am resigned to the fact that I will never be able to carry on a real conversation; even Rich, who was the star Bulgarian student from in last year’s Corps, told us his conversational skills were limited to “what’s you favorite color” type of exchanges.

I will probably have to take this back, but it looks like spring has arrived in Sofia! We’ve had a week of relatively balmy days (50+ F), I've discarded my Martenitsa, and city workers have been doing spring cleaning in the park across the street from my apartment (which is a very welcome sight!) I expect the trees will begin to bud any time now.

Spring Home Show
The "Строико" home show I wrote about in the fall has returned to NDK. On my way home from work today, I spent an hour walking through it and came away with one overriding impression—Bulgarian are rich! There was all kinds of high-end building material, furniture, and fixtures displayed; I even saw a shower with a built-in TV. These vendors would be wasting their time and money if people weren't buying this stuff, and I can't believe that only mobsters and crooked politicians are buying; the people wandering the aisles looked to be average Bulgarian couples—they just like to invest in their house, where it's safe I guess.

BTW, next week this time I will be on my way to Vienna! I'm really looking forward to that.
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