Dear Fabulous Family and Friends,
This is just a winter letter to let you know how we are holding up here in Bulgaria. During the summer we were warned over and over about the horrible winter we were to experience here in Bulgaria. Usually winters include a lot of snow and ice and freezing temperatures accompanied by depression for the Peace Corps volunteer because people are known to stay indoors during the winter and there is less activity in general. But, fortunately we have not experienced this kind of winter; in fact there were many days that we wished for snow. Silistra has been very mild with only one snowfall so far this winter. There are ups and downs to having no snow. The ups are that people are out and some days even drinking café outside, it is not too cold; and we are able to travel and get out of Silistra. The downs are the ugliness and bareness. There is so much trash littering the streets here. People simply use the ground as a trashcan, which makes the town lack any beauty it could even claim before. Another problem in the winter is the lack of containers for depositing coal. Coal is the most inexpensive way of heating apartments and people must dispose of their coal and so it goes into the trash dumpster along with all of the other trash which creates smoke and a stink that permeates the town. This is one thing my family especially commented on during their visit here. It does reek! Another down is simply that it is winter always seems to take forever. We know we have been very fortunate with the weather this winter in many ways, but we were excited to see our first real accumulation of snow this past week.
This past week we were able to see snow. We traveled to a winter ski resort town called Borovets. It is located in the Rila Mountains, South of Sofia about one hour. What a different world this little town is, it does not look like the Bulgaria we have been experiencing everyday. To sum it up it is a tourist trap! There were many huge hotels, a variety of restaurants and many souvenir shops selling Bulgarian souvenirs and ski wear. When we walked in front of the restaurants there were people in front of each restaurant trying to entice you inside (in English). Most of the people we saw were from England and most of the people there spoke enough English to run a business. What a funny thing to experience after living in a city with very little English speakers. We traveled there for training but we were able to stay after, during the weekend for horse back riding in the Mountains. During our week there it had started snowing and so there were fresh 8 or so inches on the ground and it was breath taking. We decided against skiing because we had forgotten a few of our ski essentials, but instead we decided to go horseback riding. As the horses walked they forged fresh trails for us to follow. The trees were full of snow and the sun was shining down on us! What a great way to experience our first real snowy day in Bulgaria, it was beautiful.
We also got to go to Sofia for the weekend and try to get to know the city more. The times we were there before we really did not enjoy it, but this time we did. We found a nice hotel that was clean and relatively cheap (Hotel Nikky), ate at an Irish Pub, visited the Alexander Nevsky church (my favorite part of Sofia) and did a lot of walking.
We are now back at site ready to approach our second semester. Josh is teaching now in the mornings while I am now teaching in the afternoons and evenings. Josh is upset that he got dealt 7:30’s each morning. (I would be too!) I have many big ideas and projects in mind for the rest of the year and I just hope I can get a few done. We shall see! Well enjoy the remainder of your winter! We miss you all and think of you often.
Copyright 2000/01/02, Josh and Kate Miller.