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Saturday, December 18, 2010

My journey here in the BG began well over two years ago now. It's hard to believe how far I've come, and how much I've grown to love this country and the people here. Then again, maybe its not so hard to believe - I've managed to surround myself by passionate and driven people with huge hearts, who have - in many cases - moved mountains to support and encourage me in my role here. 

Yesterday I spent the day in Sofia to run some errands and see a few friends. At the end of the day, I managed to miss my bus back to Samokov by 5 minutes, and then the next bus a half an hour later never came. Sometime during my one hour on the side of the highway in the freezing snow and wind, I struck up a conversation with a woman also waiting to head to Samokov.  The usual battery of questions began withbthe predicted: "how old are you?" "Are you single?" "How much money do you make?" "Do you not like your family in America?" "What do you think of Bulgarian food?" "Are you crazy?" "Do you like it here?" That last one, upon my affirmation that yes, I do love it here, usually spurs some depressing tirade about all the problems in Bulgaria and how unhappy people are here. 

In fact, according to a recent article from the Economist, Bulgaria is THE least happy country in the world.

And that breaks my heart. But then again, I didn't grow up here. I'm not "stuck" here. It's easy to waltz in for two years with a plan and a focus, and know that I have an expiration on my commitment to live here.  With that perspective, its easy to see the beauty here - the dedicated and loyal people, the delicious and fresh food, the gorgeous scenery, the passionate minority groups, and the relaxed lifestyle - and remain blissfully ignorant (to an extent), of the deeper issues. 

But again - I'm American. I have the freedom to move on when I please, travel where I like, and obtain goals I set for myself. I consider myself immensely blessed, but what about everyone else?

Sent from my Palm Pre on AT&T

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