The first thing my counterpart said to me a year ago when we met was, "you know its cold in Samokov, right? You know its in the mountains and one of the coldest cities in Bulgaria, right? You'll love it!"
Now, whenever I mention being cold, she laughs and says she warned me! Thanks Katya... :)
Last year I moved to Samokov on October 9th, and it was weeks before I routinely used my heater. This go around, I've been using my heater to knock the chill off of my freezer box for awhile, anxiously anticipating the day the gentleman downstairs lights his first fire... And a couple nights ago, it SNOWED!! I was on my way up to a local village for a little na gosti with some friends, and the first time I left my apartment I ran back upstairs to grab my rain coat to help defend against the icy cold precipitation. But little more than a minute later when I walked out the front door of my block, I groaned as I was greeted with SNOW. Wet, and lots of it. The cold front came all too fast for it to stick - the ground is still too warm, but not for long! It snowed for hours that night, and the next morning when I looked up to the mountains, I longed for the lost Fall Season as I noticed the ski slopes (a mere 15 minutes away) were COVERED in snow! I've been told to expect a longer, colder winter this year. And considering I only made it to 2 days after christmas last year, I'm in for a long haul until April! And to think, I willingly decided to sign up for a THIRD winter next year. Oozhus.
Other than impending doom rolling into my mountain town (brrrr... long underwear, scarfs, and hats ALREADY!?!?), things are going well. I met with a teacher and then the director of the kindergarten down in the Roma neighborhood earlier this week, and I will be able to help down there a couple mornings a week. I am excited! I miss spending time with little kids, so this will be something to look forward to, in addition to another avenue to spending time down in the other part of town.
Speaking of which, my photography contest (that i was SO excited about for a ton of reasons) appears to be a bust. None of the kids have showed up for their sessions various reasons. I'm hoping to grab a few to at least set an example of how fun it could be for the other kids, but so far its not working. I find it very hard to engage the kids outside of our designated times and programs. I seem to get them as a captive audience every day for an hour after school, but then thats it. You can't get them to plan ahead very far, and none of them will return later in the evening because of work and family obligations. So my new goal is to find the best way to maximize the small amount of time I DO have, and ways to engage them for additional activities... its a challenge, thats for sure!
On another note, yesterday I was finally able to finish fine tuning my first project! Well, rather, the letter of intent to show my interest to be considered for the grant! I submitted a years worth of enrichment and integration programming to be considered for funding by the Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe. It's extremely competitive, and I won't hear anything back for awhile, but if we pass the first wicket, I'll hear again and be invited to submit the ENTIRE project for the next step. So, for now, we wait... and work on other ideas!
Brrrrrr. Seriously, its cold. And I'm not ready. We only got like 5 days of fall before winter and freezing temperatures hit. And I seem to be a bit homesick this week...