© 2010 Daniel IMG_0047

Добро утро, Зверино!

Dear friends…

This is Zverino, Bulgaria.

It is where I live and will stay for the next three months. The Peace Corps calls the village a “satellite site”. We volunteers have been spread across seventeen such sites in groups of five or six for training. Language, culture, and technical skills are all covered during this period.

My living quarters are provided by a local baba. She is a retired pensioner with children and grandchildren at the capital, Sofia. Her name is Katya. We do not speak each other’s languages and it takes me five minutes to ask her how to turn on the light in my room. She teaches me the first of many words: kliuch, for light switch. I mispronounce my thanks and she laughs; And so it goes.

Out in the village, I am one of the Amerikantzi.  There are four others here, all of whom share the “fishbowl” experience with me. Many of the locals have never seen Americans of various ethnicities before. Head-turns and long stares are common. We cheerily greet the passersby with our American-accented calls of zdraveitay and dobur den before shuffling off; Many of them seem glad at our efforts to learn their language.

Despite the constant attention, I do feel a bit lonely. My Bulgarian vocabulary currently lies somewhere between counting to twenty and naming garden vegetables, making me a (slightly) poorer-than-usual conversationalist. The other volunteers training at this site are wonderful, but I still spend a part of my evenings thinking about home and everyone there.

A little sadness and reminiscing isn’t all bad, though; Quiet contemplation is a good an excuse as any to lazily gaze at the pastoral scenery. Far up in the hills, a small herd of sheep sometimes passes along the gravely roads to sheepdogs’ barking. I imagine the barking; From where I am, across the railroad tracks, they are silent pinpoints traversing between brick-roofed houses and barely-perceptible chicken pens. Perhaps their houses are like Katya’s, with gardens lined with neat little furrows of freshly plowed dirt and framed with decades-old grapevines entwined on gangling frames of rusty wire and pipe.

I wonder how the trainees in the other villages are holding up. They all seemed so nice during our orientation in Panichishte. I hope they are doing well with their language training and adapting to the culture.



  1. Evangeline
    Posted May 26, 2010 at 8:07 am | #

    the hills are so so beautiful.

    so you did get that froggy thing after all, hope you’re able to make it into a hat! :)

  2. Posted May 27, 2010 at 9:21 pm | #

    Hey Dan I love the blog, glad to hear that you are adjusting alright. Knesha is pretty sweet. Can’t wait for hub 1 tommorrow

  3. angela
    Posted May 27, 2010 at 11:10 pm | #

    It is okay. Most of my conversations with people usually only involve numbers 1-20 and garden vegetables, so I’m sure you will do well. The scenery (I just tried ~5 times to get that spelling right scenary/sceanary/sceanery?) is absolutely breathtaking and the children you’re with are adorable :] If anything, at least you have the lovely scenery to keep you company :D

  4. Posted May 31, 2010 at 2:05 pm | #

    I had the urge to sing “The hills are alive with the sound of music” at the top of my lungs~ lol it’s beautiful out there! :) we miss you lots back here. everyone (mom, eunice, and christie) ask how you are doing. i’ll have to share your story with them :) it’s so cute!!! lol okay, well i hope you have a safe and wonderful time… miss you wan!!!! *HUGGGGS!!!*

  5. Dave
    Posted June 7, 2010 at 1:53 am | #

    Haha, it looks like the shire could be just over those hills. Very nice writing by the way, it definitely puts mine to shame, miss ya here man, take care!

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