Ah, you are going to Bulgaristan?

We crossed the Bulgarian border around 1am. On the night bus from Istanbul¬†pretty much everyone was from Bulgaria on that bus, except for Katrina and I and a Korean couple with two young boys that sat next to us in the back row. They were a very nice couple, English teachers in Sofia, and one of their boys screamed as if possessed for the first several hours of trip. I not so affectionately dubbed him demon baby.¬†We went through various checkpoints at a snail’s pace at the massive complex of a “border.” Apparently drugs and weapons make their way into Europe over this border so getting through is a process. Around 2:30am we shuffled out into the cold with our passports in hand and we looked even more foreign as we the only ones not lighting up. Entereding the small trailer with a Bulgarian passport agent dressed in light green fatigues, he looked at us crookedly and asked “you are traveling through Bulgaria?” Katrina answered, “We’re flying back out of Istanbul in a couple of days.” He stared at us again over our passports and said curiously “And you decided to come to Bulgaria!?” He stamped, we slid out of the trailer and back onto the bus with the screaming child. Welcome to Bulgaria!



In Istanbul we learned that the Turks call Bulgaria, Bulgaristan, so we obviously started calling it Bulgaristan.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Turkey Day/Week




Thanksgiving day I went to a potluck hosted by the kind folks at the Fulbright House along with around ten of my colleagues and thirty or so Fulbrighters, plus some family members. Although I didn’t see the Detroit Lions play and our feasting lasted a mere two hours, there was a huge amount of delicious food and a family feel which did the day justice. After a full day in Amman where I slept in, ate leisurely breakfast, and enjoyed taking it easy immensely, I was ready to head for the hills. Saturday morning Katrina and I hopped a 6:00am flight to Istanbul.

Aga Sofia

I’m on a Boat… plus waterfalls & wadis

The past two weekends we’ve done a few excursions which I’ll present mostly in the form of pictures. Two weeks back we did Wadi Kerak and this past weekend I and a couple friends drove down to Aqaba for a boat trip on the Red Sea, and a bit of hiking in Wadi Rum.


Wadi Kerak would be our the most involved trip yet: A 10km hike with five abseils, including a 35 meter waterfall. As we made our way down the into the deep canyon one of our guides, Hussein, skipped and ran down the shale as the rest of us tip toed down into the wadi, within five minutes someone nicknamed him the Goat.

Victoria making her way down
Hussein with some other local wildlife

Another Day, Another Dinar

Greetings from the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom. It’s been a good fortnight over here and I’ll share a bit.

I’ve been working quite a bit lately, which I like. With little experience with green building, the various regional and international standards, and technical & political aspects of this process I’m learning a great deal. I’m in the midst of bringing together the component parts of a document which will, inshala, be the first draft of a comprehensive Jordanian regional standard for green building. Water and Energy are the two most important aspects as Jordan is one of the poorest water states in the world and they import over 95% of their energy. By the way ‘inshala’ translates more or less to ‘god willing.’ People say it all the time and a lot of times it just means it’s not going to happen- kind of like when you were a kid and you would ask your mom if you could get ice cream after going to the grocery store and she’d say “we’ll see.”
A few weeks back I drove up Pella to hike up through some ancient ruins. At the foot of a group of columns I met a shepherd, who kept telling me he was a shepherd, with a handkerchief full of Greek, Roman, and Byzanntine coins that he wanted to sell me.
The hike was hot and dry with steady elevation climb. The view to the west overlooking the ruins, Jordan River Valley farmland, and across that all important imaginary line was spectacular.
I included this picture with me in it because a) I like it and b) I know it will make Gonch roll his eyes which Malcolm Gladwell tells us is the tell tale sign that a marriage won’t work.
So the food is good here–> my chickpea consumption is through the roof and there’s no end in sight. I also regularly visit the sharwarma (arab burrito) stand.
Paco and I saw them bringing a fresh, plastic wrapped, meat punching bag to the back burner rotisserie a couple of weeks back. It took four guys to carry and you should have seen the way that thing parted the crowd waiting out front. I tried to take of picture of the meat Moses but it didn’t turn out.