"Come on, grab a friend! Its time to go to a distant land with Sean the man and flash the camera, its….something somethin’..blah…Adventure Time!”
That is my new theme song for the blogs this week. But uh….you would need to have watched the Adventure Time cartoons to get the full effect. But anywho – on with the show!
So, yes, I landed in Sofia around 1:00 pm local time. Which was about 24 hours ago as I type. After getting my luggage, which I absolutely cannot believe didn't get lost, I headed out and saw the quite famous Yavor holding the name Bailey. If I had any sense I would have captured that on film, but as I was running on little sleep and had less sense, I didn’t. Poo….hopefully I’ll get a photo of him before I go.
Well anyway, Yavor was my ride to the hotel and will be my guide/translator along the way to the orphanage. It was quite a different experience driving in Bulgaria than being in the USA. USA driving I think tends to be more regulated and structured than in Europe. There are these crazy multilane traffic circles that folks weave in and out of.
Considering that Yavor will be picking me up any second, I’m going to add that bit a little later….
Anyway, I made it to the hotel and I have to say the staff was really nice and Engleski friendly. I don’t know if that is how you say English in Bulgarian, but it is in Croatian. But since I’m not in Croatia…oh never mind!
Once checked in I took my bags up to the room and decided to check for damage and get myself organized. Within 10 minutes, the contents of my bags had vomited all over the place. I was very happily surprised to see both candy packed in and two little handwritten notes from Joey and Rosemary. It was such a breath of fresh air to see those little ones’ handwritten notes. The notes were telling me that I needed to give a peppermint to Abraham and one for me. There were two mints taped to the picture.
Oh, I also did a video of the room to show the kids back home where I'm staying. They are quite fascinated with hotels.
One kind of funny thing was that there was a notice on the desk left by the hotel management. Basically, that the night of March 29th is the night that Bulgarian time goes forward one hour: Spring forward. Dang it! I just did that back home, and now I have to do it again. I wasn’t fully recovered from the last time that I did that! Well, I was fighting jet lag too so….just put it on the pile!
At this point I was tired, but not too bad off, and I wasn’t hungry. So, I decided to go on and try the free Wi-fi, and try to engage in Skyping with Sam. Once I logged on and got Skype rolling, I saw that Sam was on too. It was such a wonderful thing to be able to see Sam and the kids. The kids started going ballistic jumping over each other to try to see the screen with Sam having to bear the brunt of the dog pile. Sam looked really good and the kids were quite spritely.
After we skyped I embarked on my adventure. I had two missions: I had to find a Catholic Church for Mass in the morning (ah ha….tell you about that in the next post) and I wanted to buy some paper so that I could do some problems for my actuarial exam prep work. So I stopped by reception, asked where these things were, was given a map with a couple of X’s and off I went.
I stepped out the door and promptly walked the wrong way! I eventually figured that out when I saw that I seemed to be walking around a more residential area with plenty of auto shops. Nothing looked like I was walking toward the center of town. So, I consulted the map. Yep, the wrong way.
Once corrected, I followed the path a while until I got bored and started walking almost any which way down these little alley roads. I kept an idea of where I was, generally speaking, but I had NO clue about where I was exactly.
It was kind of scary in a way. There were many people just loitering. More than I expected and especially in the little alley ways. So I just kept my head up and tried to look like I know what I was doing.
Once I had my fill of trying to blend in with the natives, I tried to figure out where I was and get back on track to my missions. I eventually ended up on a very busy road with some landmarks. This is good. I took out my map and tried to figure out exactly where I was. Well….there were a couple of spots of where I could be, but I couldn’t tell based on the pictures. I would need the road names to really know where I was. The map was in English, and the road names are in Cyrillic (Bulgarian). That just meant that I had to flex my translating muscle. Through a little bit of deductive reasoning and reading Cyrillic I found out where I was on the map.
I then oriented myself towards the Catholic Cathedral of St. Joseph, which wasn’t too far away. There apparently is a subway system under the city. The entrance and exits serve as a risk free way to cross busy roads. Jay walking is a huge hit over here, and wherever possible I tried to fit in. But the road that I had to cross was way too busy for me to try walking like Jay, so I used the public subway route.
When I arrived at St. Joseph’s, it was such a comforting sight. This is my first encounter of the true universality of the Catholic Church. I recognized a large statue of St. Joseph on the outside, and on the inside, the Church looked as if it could have been in the USA. I stopped in and prayed for a bit before heading on.
I kept my eyes peeled for paper….but to no avail. I found an office shop and was looking around but I didn’t find a nice pad of paper. I’m pretty sure that I looked rather odd in there and I was looking for that first opportunity to use Bulgarian currency, the lev. So I would have to wait for that.
Along the way there were some interesting looking pizza shops where you can buy pizza by the slice. Tell you what, if I was hungry, I would have taken one (they were huge slices off of like an 18 inch pizza….maybe even more).
When I arrived back, I felt exhausted. I had planned to do a Skype date with Sam around 7:00 my time. When I got back, I worked on organizing myself a little more and decided to just see if Sam was on Skype at around 6:00 or so.
I have to say that Skype really does make life easier when I’m this far away. We had a good talk with the kids coming in and out of the screen and I can tell you that I really miss them. I would rather deal with four rambunctious kids than to be by myself. But, I soon will have a little one here that I get to hang out with. As I type this, I am within two hours of meeting Abraham.
Sam talked me into eating supper because I was threatening not to eat anymore – I was tired, a little lazy, and had found my Nerds candy. Nope, don’t want to go anywhere. But with Sam’s help I mosied on down to the “PECTOPAHT” (one of the few Bulgarian words that I can write without Cyrillic characters) and ordered the roulade….Bacon wrapped chicken. I then settled in for the night.
St. Christopher, Pray for us!