Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)


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Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving cheer distributed for men in service. New York City turned host to the boys in service today and cared for every man in uniform. Underwood and Underwood: ca. 1918

Today Vince and I are celebrating Thanksgiving at sea. We are somewhere between Italy and Greece, soakin’ up the Mediterranean sun.

Well, I’m thinking about celebrating Thanksgiving. Vince doesn’t have a clue what the holiday is (yet), so he’s just providing moral support.

This is the first Thanksgiving that I have ever spent away from my family back home in Utah.

Hmph.

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It’s Not Goodbye, It’s See You Later

The remains of fall
Saying goodbyes are hard for me. I tend to shut down and just rush through them to get it all over with. Thankfully, it’s gotten easier for me over the past few years. I come and go a lot. For all of 2012, I have only been in Utah for 2 months. The rest of the year was spent in Bulgaria and Alaska.

No matter how I cut it, I am always saying goodbye to someone, whether it’s Vince and the in-laws, co-workers and friends in Alaska, or family and friends in Utah…departures are becoming way of life.

One of the hardest people to leave is my cousin, A. I’ve written about her quite a bit so you may be familiar with her already. She just turned 7 and is seriously awesome; I just adore her. I’ve spent a lot of time with her this month but it still never seems like enough. Today we spent one last afternoon hanging out and being silly before my flight on Tuesday.
Toesies

The weather was nice so we played with her bubble gun in the front yard. Bubbles led, to laying on the grass (I asked her to crack my back and all was good until she decided to jump up and down. Little spaz!), taking lots of photos, and decorating our hair with daisies and lavender.
Bubbles galore
Best 'buds' :)

She even modeled for me for a quick minute.
pretty little lady
After painting her nails we headed out to dinner with the rest of the family. I hate to admit it, but I gorged myself on root beer floats, onion rings, and a big, fat patty melt. Apparently I wanted the full American experience before heading back to Europe. Dinners like this will be non-existent a few days from now. I am really looking forward to more veggies (shopska salad!) and fish. Mmm. Bulgarian food is DE-LISH!

Later on it was hugs all around. I won’t see one of my cousin’s until about 2 years from now as she will be leaving on a mission for the LDS church early next year. It totally bums me out that I won’t see her for so long, but it’s definitely for a good reason.

I’ll be back in Utah for a visit in the spring, so it really isn’t goodbye, it’s just see you later!

W.

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2012 Fall Firsts

Sunday night family dinners are pretty important to my family. It’s especially nice for me when we get together because I am so rarely in Utah these days. My grandmother passed away at the end of July , so our dinners are definitely not the same anymore, but I enjoy them nonetheless.

Tonight we had a casual dinner out to celebrate my uncle’s birthday. After dinner we headed back to my grandpa’s house to have some pie and just spend some time together.

We (well, my cousin, M. to be specific) took this opportunity to carve our first pumpkin of the season. The second the top was removed and the seeds and ‘guts’ we pulled out, I knew it was officially fall. That smell is irresistible!

For my cousin’s birthday party next weekend we are carving pumpkins as well. I bought a knife kit from Target a few shopping trips ago (ah, there have been so many since being home), so I’m all set to get my carvin’ on!

I’m not generally a pie person, but I did have a bite of pumpkin pie tonight and it was delicious.

All in all it was a fun night with the fam. I only have a few more weeks left to spend time with everyone and top enjoy autumn in Salt Lake City.

Autumn in Sofia awaits my arrival!

W.

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Field Trip to Tracy Aviary

I’ve been back in Utah for just over 2 weeks now and so far it’s been a fairly productive visit. First the zoo and now the aviary; I’m on an animal kick, apparently! Now I just have to hit up the aquarium to round the visit out!

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Tracy Aviary

Earlier this week I helped chaperone a field trip to Tracy Aviary for my cousin, A., who is in the 1st grade. Luckily, I only had 3 kids with me and there was another parent in our group, so definitely manageable!

Riding on the school bus with all the excited kiddies sure took me back to my elementary field trip days.

I haven’t been to the aviary in years (I was probably a 1st grader myself), so it was pretty much an all new experience for me!

Swan? Duck? I don't remember!

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…Lately…

In case you couldn’t tell from my last few posts, I have left my beloved Alaska and ventured back to my home state of Utah.

I made a brief (and super stressful) stop in Los Angeles for one night to visit the Bulgarian Consulate to apply for my long-stay visa (detailed post to come).

I cannot believe how fast the summer went by. Denali, as always, was a blur of fun times, stress, and craziness; and I am sure going to miss it.

I’ll be slummin’ it at my mom’s house (sleeping on an air mattress in my bedroom) for the next month before jet setting back to Bulgaria.

A certain handsome Bulgarian man is eagerly awaiting my arrival, and I his amazing hugs and sweet smell.

In other news..

Lately I have been:

Watching: You name it. After nearly 5 months of little to no internet (which meant no Hulu, YouTube, etc.), I am more than catching up on my fair share of mindless entertainment. I only have a short time to watch everything before going back to Bulgaria, land of crappy website access. Specific favorites include New Girl (love me some Zooey Deschanel), The Office (it’s the last season, *tear*), House Hunters International (did I ever mention that I was contacted by the casting director for this show about Vince and I doing an episode? HA! All I could do was laugh and politely decline. As much as I love watching the show, I am not the type to be on the show) , and of course, hours of beauty gurus, music videos, and vlogs on ‘The Tube’ (YouTube).

Listening to: Similar to my round-the-clock catch-up on TV and the internet, I have also been listening to music like crazy. It’s awesome having Spotify back regularly. A few specific artists/bands that I have been enjoying lately are Mumford and Sons (sorry if you are tired of hearing me talk about them!), Foster the People, The Decemberists, Bon Iver, Of Monsters and Men, and Augustana. I’m working on another ‘On Rotation’ post, so stay tuned for that!

Eating: I actually haven’t gone as nuts as I thought I would in the food department since being back in UT. That will likely change as my departure to Bulgaria gets closer. As much as I adore Bulgarian food, there are just some things from home that I dearly miss when I am away.

Wishing: OK, it’s more like PRAYING that my long-stay Bulgarian visa arrives before my flight in November. I think I may have booked my departure date too soon. The consulate said the visa will take about 30 business days; my flight is on the 31st business day. Holy. Schnikies. Please send good vibes my way! Paying to change my flight is the last thing that I need right now!

Anticipating: AH! SO many things! I am really anticipating getting back to Bulgaria and my hubs, of course. I am also extremely excited for my upcoming travels (a post coming soon), living and adventuring in Sofia, my 27th birthday, my first Christmas abroad, my MIL’s cooking, and making new friends (on that note, if you live in Sofia, or anywhere in BG for that matter, please send me an email–I’d love to meet up!)

Well. That’s all for now, folks!

As always, thanks for stopping by my little corner of the blogosphere.

W.

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An Afternoon at the Zoo

Utah's Hogle Zoo

On Sunday, my 6-year-old cousin, A,, and I headed to Hogle Zoo, located in Salt Lake City.

I haven’t been to the zoo since last year, so the changes were a bit of a shock.

The iconic mini-train ride of my childhood is no more. In its place is a mass of fencing, mounds of dirt, and signs for the upcoming ‘African Savanna’ opening in 2014. I’m glad we’re getting the African cats back (they’ve been gone for a few years now as the zoo is doing its exhibits by geographic region rather than just a mix of everything), but I’m going to miss the random assortment of animals visible from the train ride: buffalo, sheep, etc.

**Update! After scoping out the zoo’s website, I am happy to report that the train will reopen in 2014 and feature a longer ride around the new African Savanna exhibit! We’re talkin’ free-roamin’ giraffes, zebras, and ostriches. Nice!**

Baby Zuri
Baby Zuri

Elephants

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Wandering

It has slowly been occurring to me recently that I am living quite the nomadic lifestyle these days.

It all started when I was trying to figure out the last time I worked in Utah (for tax purposes), which was in April of last year. Then it really hit me when a guest asked the question that nearly every inquisitive tourist asks, “What do you do during the winter?” Most of them realize that the vast majority of the workers in Denali are only seasonal. They like to know where we all go at the end of September. It fascinates most people that this huge operation only lasts 5 months out of each year.

Anywho, I pondered how to answer this question Readers Digest style, which I realized is quite hard to do in my case.

I quickly explained to the person that I am married to a Bulgarian and I live in Bulgaria in the winter. Then they asked me what I do there

Um… ?

I was stumped. Because, quite frankly, the answer is nothing. To be fair, I did just move to BG last December and we spent the long, cold winter just hanging out in our apartment and then in March I went back to Utah for a visit and then to Alaska for work. And when I head back to BG in a few months, I will probably do more “hanging out.” Sure, I want to find a job. I would love to find a job. If I found a good one, we’d be able to stay in Bulgaria longer. As it is, it looks like we’ll be trekking back to Alaska next summer for another tourist season.

It may be a permanent move to the U.S., it may not be. But that’s a post for another day.

You might be wondering where I am going with all of this.

My point is that I don’t feel grounded. I’m rootless. While I now call Bulgaria home, I haven’t lived there for more than a few months. On the same note, Salt Lake City (while always my hometown) is no longer home either. That is unless you can call an air mattress on the floor of my old bedroom in my mom’s house home. And finally, while Denali is home for now, I am packing up and leaving again in just 3 short weeks.

I feel like I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the past 18 month because, really, I have.

And guess what? I don’t mind.

For now.

For now I am happy to be living out my wanderlust dreams. For now I enjoy having the freedom to go wherever I want to go, whenever I want to go. For someone so completely enamored with seeing the world, it’s a pretty great feeling.

The only thing that could make it better were if my hubs and I were doing it in one of these:

vintage Airstream

Little Guy Silver Shadow Travel Trailer interior.

Gathering

All that said, I do foresee a time in the future where I will want to settle down and plant some roots.

We want to start a family; and, while adventurous and fun, a nomadic lifestyle isn’t completely conducive to that.

I’ll think I’ll always be a wanderer deep down, however. So finding out how to balance that with a more “normal” or traditional life will be the goal.

W.

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All photos are copyright their respective owners. Each photo is linked to the original source, to the best of my knowledge.