Darrell is still feeling under the weather, so unfortunately he is missing out on today’s trek into the mountains of Bulgaria.
Today Tsvetan, Dobrin and I made our way to Vitosha Mountain for a day of hiking and wonderful conversation. We knew early this morning that the winds were strong and that hiking would be a challenge, but we were determined to give it a try. The drive to Vitosha takes approximately 30 minutes, and then another 45 minutes to drive up to the mountain to the hiking area. Since the lift was closed due to excessively heavy winds, we drove up to the top and geared up for our journey. The hike was quite the adventure, and there were many times that the wind was so intense that it was almost impossible to walk (or see for that matter!).
On our way back from the hike, we stopped at the Dragalevtzi Monastery, which was founded in 1345 by Tsar Ivan Alexander. The grounds were beautiful, covered with fresh snow and the sound of a river running close by. It was a perfect visit and fit for our day, especially after the intense hike up the mountain earlier. We grabbed a quick lunch at a traditional restaurant up in the mountain, where I was introduced to many Bulgarian dishes that I hadn’t yet tried. Some of the dishes were nettle soup, cucumber soup and pork sache. All very delicious.
Although our plan for today was to hike, we spent a majority of the day discussing the similarities and differences of our lives in both Canada and Bulgaria. In terms of geography, both Tsvetan and Dobrin were quite surprised to learn that the closest mountain to Winnipeg, similar to that of Vitosha was approximately 15 hours away. They couldn’t believe how far the distance was and told me that they could travel across Europe in that time. We also talked about the differences in our school systems, birth rate, living conditions and employment. Their school system is K-12, similar to ours, but in grade 7 children are streamed into either a vocational or academic curriculum, based on their grades. According to Tsvetan and Dobrin, this system is flawed since it’s basing a child’s future on their academic success while in grade 7. Additionally, it was interesting to learn about how many universities Bulgaria has – 52 to be exact! Since they are so plentiful, I’m told that the quality of education is inconsistent, and that this is a concern to many people making decisions about where to attend post-secondary.
Tonight was the 10th Anniversary of the Centre for Inclusive Education, and a party was arranged to celebrate. Unfortunately, Darrell and I were not able to attend, but sent the staff our congratulations. We are planning to celebrate with the C.I.E. Crew over lunch in the office tomorrow.