Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I Bought This Chai, or Illiterate


I bought this chai. At least, I bought the water that I put my chai in. And by chai, I mean tea. And by bought, I mean I asked in Bulgarian, which was its own payment. "Goreshta chai molya. Kolko?" Or something like that. They gave it to me free.

Sunday evening (which feels like a week ago), I saw my name for the first time in Bulgarian cyrillic alphabet. The kids were excited about this. I was dumfounded, as if I had been renamed. деика.

Tomorrow, I will be one week in Bulgaria. Spent a few days in Sofia, walking off the jet lag under the kind supervision of Ralph and Bonnie (Navigators). Sunday afternoon, I rode with four others to Elena, a small town 36km from Veleko Turnavo (the largest town nearby). Camp started the moment we got there and it's been a sprint since then. Next week, I'll be teaching the lessons at the camp, not just having my own small group.

The thing is this: I'm totally illiterate. Bulgaria does use the latin alphabet on most of its town signs and street signs (in the center of towns). But that doesn't help me order or get around or anything. I'm working on sounding out the alphabet as best I can. The kids help teaching a phrase or two each day and even in three days,  I'm hearing my own mind hold onto the phrases just a few minutes longer than I could last Thursday. Exciting, yes. Dear heavens, so far to go. When I compare what I know of Bulgarian to what they know of English, I'm quite humbled.

The picture to the right is of a sign in Elena where we took a walk today. I may have inwardly squealed when I subconsciously read the top word in my head. I didn't realize for a few moments that I knew the word. It was like a game of balderdash when you keep saying the right word but can't hear the sounds in your own mouth. Can you guess what it was?


1 comment:

emillikan said...

I love the way the cyrillic alphabet messes with my English mind. On rare occasions I still try to read English signs as if they were written in Russian/Ukrainian - I remember distinctly several years ago reading a sign that said BEACH as "veasn" and thinking "wait, what is that?" for a spit second. Really fun. :)