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Changing attitudes, altitudes page 2
Stafford resident will be home from Peace Corps service in Bulgaria for Thanksgiving

 Stafford's James Mayers spent some of his downtime in Bulgaria mountain climbing and sightseeing.
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Date published: 9/12/2006

By KATHLEEN LEWIS

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Mayers had planned to climb Moussala, the highest peak in the western part of the country, during an eight-day August excursion. But instead, he tackled the second-highest peak at 9, 560 feet.

During a previous three-day adventure, Mayers and some other volunteers visited the Seven Lakes and made a 5-hour climb down steep terrain to visit the Rila Monastery. This is Bulgaria's most famous place of refuge for villagers who were fleeing invading armies.

Mayers also went to Greece for two weeks in June. In addition to visiting Athens and Gytheo, a small fishing village on the coast, Mayers hiked up Mount Olympus for three days.

On the first day, he climbed nearly a vertical mile. On his descent that day, about an hour from the lodge, Mayers said the pleasant weather changed. The clouds grew dark and the wind increased. Rain poured, thunder clapped and lightning lit the sky. The rain turned quickly to sleet. Mayers wasn't dressed for this. He was wearing shorts, a T-shirt, a baseball cap and boots.

"I was soaked, but still feeling warm from the exhausting hike. When the lightning and thunder started, I really felt like I was heading towards Zeus (corny, I know). I felt alive."

Mayers' tour of duty is up Oct. 8. He plans to travel through Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands before returning to the United States in time for Thanksgiving.

To reach KATHLEEN LEWIS: 540/735-1975
Email: klewis@freelancestar.com


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