Tuesday, June 24, 2008

First Days in Sofia

I made my sketchy connection in London. The "carry-on luggage only" was a successful plan. I ran from the arrival gate in Heathrow, through customs and on to the Central Bus Station and caught a bus leaving ten minutes before the one I scheduled. There was no traffic to Gatwick.
I arrived in Sofia about 20 hours after taking off from LA. The airport was even smaller than I remembered from 2005. After looking around for my ride and being harassed by taxi drivers, I thought there must be a mistake. The ATM was out of service and no currency bureau was open, so I asked the woman in the information booth if she spoke English. She helped me to ward off a pushy taxi driver while she called our teachers' home every few minutes. Apparently a new airport terminal was built recently and everyone else in the group had arrived there, a mile or so away. They had assumed I was coming in there. This was only one of a long string of travel complications. With 20 girls and a band, all with separate arrangments, you can imagine.

Anyway, I made it to their home dirty, tired and hungry. I hurt my neck/shoulders pretty bad lifting my luggage around and being cramped up on planes. Going on a 5 hour walking tour of Sofia didn't help me. Especially in the heat. But I didn't get to see any of the city last time I was here so I wanted to push myself. Long-time expat (Minnesota native) and former choir-founder, Angela, led us around to churches, mosques, parks, etc. Here is a natural spring in the middle of the city where people come to fill up bottles. The water is hot, and Myra said she saw a man washing his dishes there yesterday.

After our tour, we went to a rehearsal of the National Radio Folk Orchestra, in a bright room on the top floor of an old building. The rehearsal space is accessed by a stairway off the street in between some random shops, so it felt clandestine. Being in the middle of these musicians was a world of difference from the recordings I know. They are on the bill, along with other all-star Bulgarian folk groups, for our concert on Thursday.

Then we came home to cook, have dinner, and rehearse a little bit.

As I write this post, the group has gone to the TV station to do a PSA to announce the big event. It's nice to have a little time to myself, although I worry that this injury is going to keep me from doing other things and I ought to be resting right now. Later this afternoon we will be on a popular show, Slavi Trifonov. I think I'll go even if I'm stiff all over. It will only add to our groups' freakishness.

1 comment:

Sara Velas said...

Oh Wow! TV appearance! I wish when you guys returned, you would have a talk show appearance. What if the Bulgarian Women's Choir were featured on the late show with that Red-Haired guy?? You guys should be the real musical celebrities. Then we could get gossip about how you prepare your yogurt and those Bulgarian salads and things, rather than what club brittney went too and stuff like that. HA!