Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sveti Nikola

            One of the best things that the Peace Corps does is have a three month training period of language classes and a practicum in your speciality.  That's it.  This allows you to slowly learn the language, work on your skill and live with a host family.  It's a great way for you to integrate into the community very quickly instead of taking months and months to just learn enough about a local and then, maybe, have coffee together. 
            Now the Peace Corps doesn't assign you a family without a proper questionnaire for them to complete and an interview in their home.  Next, they go over our aspiration statements, resumes and interviews both in the US and during Pre-Service Training to find the right match.  My family isn't the right match for me they're perfect.  They're very relaxed but open and genuine.  They've traveled around Eastern Europe and they went to Russia for their honeymoon.  I figure they're in their mid-40's, their son is 23 and all of them speak a little English.  Most importantly they enjoy people, conversations and learning new things.  Sound familiar?!

When my host father Blage, pronounced Vlage, pulled out the grill and sausages I knew things were gonna be just fine. 

We chatted over Kafe, coffee, watched some EPL and I wrote down all the new words I heard. 

This is Vlage's man cave/picnic spot. He's always out here chatting with his neighbors and watching TV.

We had fresh tomatoes and potatoes from their garden, again sound familiar, and sausages.
            We hung out the rest of the day together and then I got situated in my room and passed out.  I woke up late this morning and came out to the "man cave" to find one of my co-volunteers lived with a family that was best friends with mine.  Plus, they live down the street so it'll be easy to meet up.  After breakfast it was decided to visit the local monastery up in the mountains in honor of Mary Magdalene's birthday. 

Most of the town came out over the day to get together.  It was more of a festival than a service. 

The monastery is the building directly ahead. Bekah is my close neighbor and those are her new sisters. You can check out her blog here.

We lit a candle for each person we prayed for. I was only given one so I prayed for my little bro who's just getting settled into his job in Beijing right now. 

Then we danced. It was circular line dancing so I hopped right in.

            After we danced for a bit we headed back home to get dinner.  The view coming out of the mountain overlooking the valley was just picturesque so, of course, I took some pictures for you. 

Sveti Nikola Valley. Four monastery's were founded by a monk in the 10th Century so the town was named after him. 
The produce that's grown here is corn, tobacco, grapes and pears.  There's plenty of tomatoes, figs, chestnuts, apples etc also.

You can see that there's almost no pollution.

This is my host mother. Her name translates to Snow White in English.
We had to wait on the sheep train.
            The easiest way to describe how I feel going around right now is that:
                                                               It looks like Europe
                                                               It feels like home
                                                               If both were combined 
                                                              50 years ago.

            Tomorrow we start our language classes at 8am sharp.  I'm really excited to get going on it all but I think the best part is that my host family is walking me to school.  It's a requirement by the Peace Corps and I'm sure Snow White will make me take a packed lunch but it still makes me smile.