Bulgarian Visit Day Nine

Day 9: Friday, March 18

This blog entry comes in late. Almost a week late. We ask our kind readers to forgive us and offer the account of our last three days in Winnipeg as an explanation for this delay.

So, day nine was the 18 March, Friday, and we left Lasha’s house early to go to Christ the King School where her three boys study and where we were to make presentations about Bulgaria and our organization in front of their classes.

The school is small, cosy and very colourful. After checking in, we went to Nolan’s class, which is in 7th grade, but were joined also by the 8th graders.  We talked about where Bulgaria is, how people there live, how our cities and houses are different from the ones in Winnipeg, and how many things are quite similar. We showed pictures of the landscape, historic buildings and some of the most famous monasteries we have, before ending the presentation with some of the more spectacular Bulgarian traditions – Kukeri, Nestinari and the celebration of Jordan’s day. To make them part of a Bulgarian tradition we gave everyone a Martenitsa – small bracelet made of white and red threads that is worn from the beginning of March until the time fruit trees start to blossom. The children were quite interested and we had to answer questions about our country and lifestyle. The Q&A session had to end somewhat abruptly as the time had run out and we needed to cross the hallway and go straight to Jackson’s class.

The 5th graders welcomed us with eyes full of curiosity in a room in which each item had a sticky note with its name in French (a simple and effective teaching practice). While our presentation remained practically the same in terms of content, the number of ‘’Wows” increased exponentially and by the time we got to the pictures of the Kukeri – people dressed in goat skins with several sets of horns – it was almost uncontrollable. This time we had a solid amount of all sorts of questions and the kids got very excited when we gave them their Martenitsas.

With some time on our hands before the next presentation we went to the nearby Tim Horton’s to whose coffee we had already become used to. Forty minutes later we entered a classroom full of six year olds sitting on a carpet and looking at us with the curiosity with which we had been looking at the bald eagles a few days earlier. With the help of Mrs. Bataglia – their teacher – the kids became quiet and were “handed” to us for the presentation. Here, we could not follow the same order as we did in the other two classrooms. The number of raised hands at any given moment was only exceeded only by the number of ‘’Wow’s” following every picture we showed. At times the avalanche of questions was so great that Mrs. Bataglia had to step in. The kids wanted to know absolutely everything. From what clothes we wear (they were disappointed to learn that what we were wearing was how we usually dress) to how we defend ourselves in times of war (once again disappointed by the answer that the last war for Bulgaria ended before we were born). Further, children were happy to know we have to eat apples and bananas too and were very interested how many goats skins are needed per one kukeri costume. There went some discussion and while Iva thought that maybe two goats per costume, Dimitar suggested four – and this was the number that the asking kids agreed. Serious stuff!  By the time we got out the Martenitsas the uproar was getting out of hands and Mrs. Bataglia kindly offered to distribute them herself later-on.

This was an amazing morning, very joyous and warm and we believe that will remember these curious beautiful little faces in the years to come.

Darrell & DimiterExcited by this visit Lasha drove us to Career Trek’s office where we spend the next couple of hours writing our blog entry for the previous day while expecting the unexpected. The thing is, we were told by our hosts that this day was ‘’surprise day” and despite all of our versatile efforts to get some information out of them they remained mute as stones. By the late afternoon we got somewhat carried away in the writing and lowered our guard, when suddenly Darrell rushed into the room wearing his Jets jersey (signed by Bobby Hull), waving around two tickets for the game and shouting at Dimitar “You didn’t think I was gonna blow this one, did ya?”. Poor Dimitar sat helplessly, with a very strange smile on his face, repeating “thank you” and “you really got me” while the whole thing was being filmed. After a few unfortunate attempts to lift himself up from his seat he finally managed to stand up and went for a glass of cold water to help him process the information that he was going to his first NHL game.

With Dimitar’s surprise being made, it was now Iva’s turn, but here we should split our account in two as the evening went differently for the two of us.


Dimitar’s hockey night in Canada

Jets Bulgaria SignWe left the office and Darrell took me to a place where they served beer and dinner in a former theatre with a big screen showing sports. We had a good chat about hockey while having hamburgers from a buffet (what a genius idea! Make-your-own burgers). We then headed to the arena. Everyone on the streets seemed to be going there too. People with Jets jerseys everywhere. I wasn’t walking, I was flying. First thing I did after we got there was to get myself a vintage jersey so I could really be part of the crowd. I enjoyed every second of this night. The atmosphere in the hallways, the cheerful crowd, the show that they put on at the rink before the game starts, the players coming out, the national anthem (with the crowd shouting True North as loud as they can). I will not be making an account of the game itself as it will take me another 10 pages, but I will note that before the start of the second period I put up my own show. I had made a sign, with Meghan’s help, saying “I came all the way from Bulgaria to see the True North”, so Darrell advised me to walk up to my seat waving it at the crowd shortly after the puck was dropped. It turned out to be a good idea with people cheering back at me and welcoming me to Canada.

The Jets lost that night (to the Stanley Cup champion Chicago) but there sure was one happy Jets fan that night there – me.


Iva’s theatre night out

BailysSimply beautiful! We went out with Lasha, Meghan, and Melissa to have a fancy dinner at Bailey’s, where we spent good couple of hours dining, drinking wine, and talking girls stuff. We were almost late for the play! You might ask how did I find out what was after dinner? Just a few minutes before it was over Lasha had a tiny tongue slip. However, as it turned out, indeed the big surprise was the play itself, not the genre. Sasha joined us and we went together to see Chimerica – a brilliant, innovative, and captivating play that grabs you by the throat from the very beginning and does not let you go till the very end three hours later. Coming from a communist country, it seemed very close and somewhat painful, but was also funny, thought provoking, intriguing, and even optimistic. To sum up would be impossible and unfair too. Can I just confess that the whole evening left me speechless for hours after.  And very grateful and happy.