9: Dancing in a Wine Cellar

Hundreds of onions laid near the BFB warehouse bays, as they have for days, and again we did not touch them. Instead, we played good potato/bad potato and sorted spaghetti. The potatoes took little time and the spaghetti sorting needed not all of us, so after prepping the bags some of us met idle time. I thought of improving our sorting process, efficient as it is, which led me to ask Dani more precise questions about BFB’s food distribution. He said we will sort the food from the food drive according to the expiration date — up until now we haven’t because the food from the last food drive must leave the warehouse as soon as possible to make space for the food drive food. So I imagine we will operate much differently, and I wonder if we are ready.

That done, we cleaned the warehouse bays. Minoti, and Angie, and I swept one bay, while in the other bay Carrie vigorously dusted ceiling nooks and Ben and Peter moved pallets so Bridget, Scarlet, and Amber could sweep and mop under them. Given the time he spendt consulting with the BFB staff, Anthony Kitchen (our Global Food Banking rep) has helped BFB a lot with this visit. He walked through the warehouse and told us that moving the pallets 6-10 inches away from the wall improves cold air circulation to the food and allows you to clean behind the pallets. Who else might know that?

Tedi and Anthony accompanied us by tram and subway to the American College of Sofia. With all these US destinations, I fell almost at home. The public transportation in Sofia still impresses me. Four methods: subway, bus, tram, and trolley. As Ben said in the first few days, you could lick the floors of the subway stations they are so clean. What a contrast to Houston.

We met students from the We Care Club, the College’s volunteering club. While they say ‘college’ here means ‘high school’, the maturity of the students led me to see it as a mini-college. The students baked Bulgarian snacks and an apple pie for the meeting. I talked with three 9th graders and one prep year-er (their 8th grade). They wanted to study or work elsewhere in Europe or the US. No one encouraged me to consider studying outside the US, or even tell me (I am sure you would save money, considering tuition).

Dinner awaited us in a basement. You might call it a wine cellar. Some barrells and bottles lined the walls. They veneered all the wood to exaggerate the grain, to the point where it looked fake. The BFB staff + Anthony + Madelina joined us, and we dined across three tables. I sat with Ben, Bridget, Ilyan, and Maria. Ilyan works with BFB on freelance contract, though once the contract expires he will work as a volunteer. From the conversation he helps manage logistics for the BFB. Like the rest of the BFB staff, he is admirable.

They suspended our salad with chains, and the cellar warmed as our food hit the table. Three guys in the middle of the cellar played traditional music when it wasn’t playing from the speakers. Plam and Angie danced to it the first time they came out, and Tedi joined in after we had eaten. I was told she takes classes in folk dancing, and it showed. She danced alone amongst the musicians until five or six younger folk joined her. They held hands and snaked around the room with fancy footwork reminiscent of Irish dancing. The music pulsated, shifting rhythms and speed, the dancers keeping time. I could not stop smiling.

We bid each other good-night outside under the restaurant sign, and us nine walked back. Ilyan passed us on his bike, stopping to say hello and goodbye (he bikes everywhere). We reflected, then rested.

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