Yesterday evening was finally an interesting one here in Hometown, Bg. Since moving here to my new community there's been alot of grocery shopping, household supply shopping, frantically speed walking through rainstorm after rainstorm, and ALOT of trying to use as many compound words as possible while riding the railroads, motorways, streetcars, and buslines to and fro'. That got old fast.
So any-hoo. Last night was the first time in two weeks here I've been out and about after 7pm on a weekday. I should take it easy - you proclaim? Too ambitious - you decry? I will wear myself out before my two year mission has been fulfilled - you speculate? Ha! I say in your face. Peace Corps Volunteers live to be ambitious!
At around 6:15 I met up with the other two volunteers in my new town, a young married couple - and super people, outside of the gymnastic center. After weeks of straightening everything out, they were able to get the gymnastics instructors to give a reduced-rate gymnastics class to about 15 kids from our town's orphanage... and last night was the exciting beginning! Class #1! Did I tumble - you ask? Did I jump - you inquire? Did I prance - you query? No... but the kids did, and they loved every minute of it... especially the trampoline which they had pined after for weeks already.
I have to admit that I had my predisposition about orphans - namely an unruly lot where one can only sit by and follow their endless stream of thoughts and actions to physical and mental exhaustion. And, po princip (generally), kids exhaust me anyway... and these kids probably could have, given ample opportunity. But during the lesson, I was just a spectator, and my only real role was to walk them safely home afterward. So what I'm basically saying is I can in no way claim to know anything about who these kids are... however I can report what I saw. I saw 15 kids who would snap up straight at the word of the instructors. I saw these kids warm-up, take turns, follow the rules, and have lots and lots of fun. So much fun they tried to move next week's lesson up to tomorrow (to no avail). This is the first structured anything that some of these kids have ever had, and they took to it like sphagnum to a bog (you learn a little every day - yesterday about orphans, today about sphagnum).
A note on the walk to the orphanage: The other volunteers had not mentioned exactly where we were leading these children, except that it was 'to the orphanage'. Being naive in my new town, I assumed I had seen it all, and had various ideas about where we might be walking. But, being in a city of acute, protruding hills, there seems to be something new around every bend, or up every staircase.
For a town that claims not to have a 'mahala' (ghetto), we were certainly headed in the right direction to find one. Around the bend of one hill, off to a northern upshoot from town that I had not previously visited, we came to the orphanage. The average townee would never have the need to pass by, saunter past, or drive through this part of town. Anywhere you needed to go was accessible through other corridors. And the hills make it almost an invisible part of town. Just another great example of people using geography, geography, geography to their advantage to keep things out of sight - out of mind. I could only recollect the old detention center-turned-halfway house on Long Island in Boston Harbor. From land, it just appears an island... from sea, you can get up a little closer and see an institutional-looking red brick building peeking through the tree-line on the shore... what goes on over there??? oh nothing...