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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Observations of Bulgaria

There are some things that I have noticed about Bulgaria since we have arrived. I want to jot down some observations here. 

1. Bulgarians shake their head "yes" and nod their head "no." This has caused for me to frequently think the opposite of what other people are saying. I, myself, have tried to stop nodding and shaking my head during conversations, as I realize that I am likely confusing everyone else around us. 

2. Head bobbing. I am a fan of Bollywood movies. In India, the people frequently bob their head from side-to-side when communicating with each other. Bulgarians also bob their head from side-to-side. I have asked Maggie about it and she doesn't seem to be aware of it, really. It must just be an unconscious reaction. Tyler and I are practicing our head bobbing everyday. Ha ha. 

3. The language. Bulgarian seems to have integrated several words from foreign languages into its own. Some examples are: Bravo (Italian), Merci (French), Luna (Spanish), biblioteca (Spanish), Bon appetit (French), Ciao (Italian or Spanish "Chao"), Opa (Greek?), bon-bons (French), etc. 

4. The people. I know that there must be unfriendly people in Bulgaria, but I haven't met any here. Everyone seems to be so kind to each other. I love that.   Addendum: I have seen one person yell at a driver in Dobrich. 

5. The pace of life. It is nice and relaxed. People are focused on relationships. I often see neighbors outside talking with each other. I see men working together to help shovel driveways. Addendum: I saw this mainly in the village Lesichovo. 

6. The weather. I absolutely love the winter wonderland here. It has snowed almost every day since we arrived. The snow is very thick on everything. It is like a beautiful postcard wherever I look. I am eager to see how it will look when we come back for trip #2!

7. Haircuts. The men here seem to love very short haircuts. I see it everywhere. They look like soldiers!

8. Bathrooms. Many toilets have two buttons to push. One small button for #1 and one larger button for #2. The toilet paper is also scented with lavender - quite a strong scent, also! And there are trash cans next to the toilet where you are supposed to put the soiled toilet paper versus throwing it in the toilet to flush. 

9. Milk. Since I do not drink tea or coffee, I ask for milk to drink. They do not give me cold milk, but hot milk. I'm not used to it, yet. 

10. Popular fruit. Bananas are a big hit with the children in Bulgaria. The reason for this seems to be that they expire much faster than apples or oranges, so the orphanages do not provide them. This seems funny to me because they are quite inexpensive in the USA. 

11. Say Cabbage! That's the phrase you say before taking pictures in Bulgaria. 

12. Marble and wood. Marble is everywhere here in Bulgaria. It is cheaper than wood, which is strange! But the traditional style in Bulgaria is to work with wood. As such, I have seen beautiful woodworking in various buildings, especially in our lodgings. 

13. Pedestrians. In the states, it is illegal to not let pedestrians pass before you when you are driving. Here in Bulgaria, people rarely stop for them. So when we instinctively stop to allow them to pass, the pedestrians are confused. 

14. Music. The music here sounds like a combination of many cultures. They play the accordion and also the bagpipes. Many of the songs sound Middle Eastern, Spanish, and Russian. 

15. Dairy products. Bulgarian yogurt is quite different from yogurt in the states. It is rich and creamy and delicious. There are so many kinds of cheese in Bulgaria. My favorite kind is yellow cheese. The milk is so tasty. And the ice cream is good, too. I could move here for the dairy products, alone. 

16. Salads. Fresh fruits and vegetables are everywhere here. Every menu that I have seen has several salad choices. Tyler has tried the shopska and the shepherd's salads and he likes them both. The shopska salad includes cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, peppers, topped with cow's milk cheese (similar to feta). Then you drizzle vinegar and olive oil over the top and salt. We plan to make this salad a new staple in our family. 

17. Gas stations. They have attendants that pump the gas for you. When it is 0 degrees, this is extra nice!

18. Stoplights. The stoplights here have number countdowns for when the lights will turn green. It's a nice visual when driving here. 

19. Dogs. There are many street dogs here. Most of them are big dogs and they look like they have good souls. 

20. Music videos. Just about every restaurant (and some hotels) have TV's on with music videos playing. Many of these videos are in English, and so many of them are highly sexual in nature. It is hard to avoid seeing things that I would never wish to see. It's a daily frustration. 

21. Showers. Most of the places we have stayed have had bathrooms that are a shower. No curtain rod or bathtub, just a drain in the center of the bathroom and a shower head on the wall. Bizarre!

22. Keyed entry. All but one of our hotels have actual keys to open the rooms. 

23. Memorials. I have seen pieces of paper with a face on them, posted on trees or outside buildings. Maggie says they are memorials of people who has passed away. I am thinking it helps people to remember their loved ones who have passed on. 

24. Spring water. I have seen a few spickets around the country. It taps into fresh spring water and people drive over with their empty water jugs to fill them up. It is thought that the water is especially healthy. I'm not going to chance it with any local water. 

25. Horses. Some people still use horses to get around town. These people are mostly of Roma descent. I saw 
more of them in rural areas of Bulgaria. 

26. Dilapidation. Many homes and factories are dilapidated. It is sad that whatever project or company that began had to close. Maggie says that many Bulgarians are choosing to move away from Bulgaria. Perhaps this is why?

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