Hristo Botev

Hristo Botev is roughly the equivalent of George Washington to Bulgaria's current empire.  Probably the most famous figure in their history.  Sunday was the holiday dedicated to him, and, even more exciting was the fact that he came through our town on May 29th about 150 years ago.

There was an awesome program in the center... dancing (national Bulgarian dances), poetry reading, live musicians, singers, and fireworks. 

A handful of the other American volunteers came along with Randall's host mom & our friend, Betty (in the picture w/ Joy).

We really liked the "Dancing Duel" between two Bulgarian men.  Very cool.

Wish you all could come to these events with us!

Joy & Randall


Our Future Apartment!

It has been a pleasure living with our Bulgarian families over the past 9 1/2 weeks.  An experience we wouldn't trade for anything.  We are also, however, looking forward to having a permanent apartment in less than 2 weeks in Plovdiv.  After looking at several options, we finally decided which one was "us."  Check out the pictures & let us know what you think...


Joy & Randall

One Balkan Peak Down, A Few More To Go

6 hours, 600 meters (elevation), 9 liters of water, and 10 tired feet later, we summitted one of the Balkan peaks today!  There were a few times when we were crawling up the mountain (pretty steap), and I definitely considered giving up, but we did it!

Enjoy the pics!


Our Furry Friends

Thought you'd enjoy some pics of our town's local "wildlife."  Thankfully, they are really friendly!

The first two pictures are of a cute colt we ran into on a walk at the edge of town.  He came right up to the fence when we walked by.

The 3rd picture is of Joy's Bulgarian host mom's new baby chicks!  So cute!!

The 4th one is of Lucky, Joy's host mom's house dog.  He's been a great "brother" to play with these past few months.

5th is the cow that feasts near our Bulgarian language classes everyday.

And, last, but not least, is our local Raptor, Amy.  Every developed town needs a good, friendly dinosaur, right?

Have a great weekend, everyone!!


Happy Birthday Bozhidar and Borovan!

Today is "Den Borovan" (the day of our town) and it's also Joy's host Mom's grandson's birthday, Bozhidar.  He is a whopping 11 years old!

The whole family came to town to celebrate and eat and celebrate and eat... lots of fun (see pics below).  He even had an ice cream cake (thought of you, Paul!)!  It was delicious and refreshing since it's actually warm outside! :)

The most interesting, yet not surprising, gift he received was a Bee-bee gun.  Randall got in on the action with that :)

It was nice to meet Joy's Mom's other daughter and her family, including Bozhidar.  Happy Birthday, Bozhidar!

Thanks family for including us in the festivities!  We love you!


"Old Town" in Plovdiv

As Joy's counterpart told her a few days ago, Nebet Tepe' is one of the "7" hills in Plovdiv.  It's the "Old Town," where the first settlers put down roots.  It's near the river, Maritsa, and has an amazing view of the city, to say the least.  When our counterparts told us we would visit the Old Town, we weren't exactly sure what to expect.

It's lined with coble-stone streets and reminded us of a Medieval town! We weren't expecting that, for sure.  The town houses are articulately painted and the owners have to keep them the particular style of home from that time period.

Our afternoon consisted of a beautiful walk through the Old Town up to the top of Nebet Tepe', where we saw Plovdiv from above, and we finished our "excursion" by seeing the Roman Ampitheater, next to the Old Town.

We are still in shock at how rich and beautiful our permanent site is...

Enjoy the pictures!


Apartment Hunt + Monastery Visit = A Full Day!

What a day.  Here's to our counterparts doing SO much planning for the last few days.  They found us a temporary place to stay.  They made sure we didn't starve.  They made sure to take us to beautiful sights ion the way to and in Plovdiv Omore to come).

And, today, they arranged for a real estate agent to show us a few apartment options.  There are a few pictures below from some of them.  This was to get an idea of what we were looking for, so that, when we come back in a month, we can find a permanent place quickly. Tough decision!

Then, we went to the Bachkovski Monastery in Bachkovo, along with a few other colleagues.  Gorgeous.  I only have a few pictures because I found out that I wasn't supposed to take pictures (oops) too late.

Saint Stephan and Saint Kiril are burried there.  They helped save many Jews during WW2 (see picture below w/ description).  Very cool.

To top off the day, we had dinner outside on a patio before we headed home to pack.

Alas, Plovdiv, we will leave you at 7 am tomorrow.  But, we'll be back soon!

Until then, we can't wait to get back and spend some time catching up with our Bulgarian families & our fellow volunteers!

Til next time...


Joy: My School

I visited my school for the first time today and helped Miglena teach her 3rd grade class.  So fun!!
I also met the school principle, Mrs. Zhigovechka.  I can tell she loves her school and the kids :)
I will be teaching English to 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade with Miglena.
Tomorrow, we will look at a couple of apartments to get an idea of where we'd like to live permanently!
To be continued...


Joy: Today, @ 19:53, we arrived n Plovdiv = our home 4 the next 2 yrs!

Goodness.  Such anticipation before today!  We were immediately congratulated by many Bulgarians as soon as we found out we were going to live in Plovdiv.  I gather that's a good thing.  In fact, we were told that it's "the Paris of Bulgaria."  I wanted to know more, but from a local... so, on our car ride to Plodiv, my counterpart gave me a few more interesting facts about her home "town."

1. She said Plovdiv is said to be as old as the city of Troy.  Around 8,000 years old.  The first people to inhabit Plovdiv were Thracian.

2. It used to be called "Philipopolis."  Greeks still call it that.

3. Turks, Romanians, Gypsies, Jews, and many other ethic groups live there, peacefully.

4. During the summer, they have something called "Vertis Nights," where they have many live musicians come and play at open-air restaurants. Can't wait!

5. They also have an International Fair every May and September. Woohoo!

6. They have a Folk Dance Festival for one week in June. In the evening, during this week, the dancers pass through the streets, dancing, and then end up at the theater in "Old Plovdiv" (the center).

7. Plovdiv used to be a city of 7 hills, but now there are only 6, since they used one to make asphalt.  Nebet Tepe' was the first hill residents settled on.

8. Plovdiv is the 2nd-largest city in Bulgaria, population-wise.  500,000 people.

I think this sounds right up our alley...

Btw, Miglena gives her greetings to you all!

Thanks, Miglena! Looking forward to teaching with you for the next 2 years!

Bulgarian cheese grits. SO GOOD.

On our way to Plovdiv, we stopped at the Cherepishski Monastery. Gorgeous.