When we are in Bulgaria, I sometimes help Mark’s employees with their English. Well, while we were gone, one of his employees was trying to explain what a FAQ (frequently asked questions) was. He told the client they get a fah-Q with their website. If you read it right, it’s funny…get it? get it? So, in honor of him, I write this fah-Q to answer the questions we are often asked:

What does it look like over there?

I really need to take pictures of the buildings and city itself so you can see it as it really is. I’ll get right on that next week. It is a city full of tall buildings (like between 7 and 15 floors). The buildings are usually gray concrete and falling apart. The roofs are orange tile and are also falling apart. Nearly all the buildings and even many of the sidewalks have graffiti on them. The streets are lined with trees and there are some parks, but otherwise, there is really no greenery or “nature” type stuff.
Which do you prefer, Bulgaria or the United States?

Well, this one is a bit unfair. In Bulgaria, I live in a noisy, land-locked city. In the U.S., I live in the most temperate coastal city in the nation. So it’s really like comparing apples and oranges. I would either have to compare Sofia to New York or Chicago, or I would have to compare San Diego to the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria, and since I haven’t lived in New York or the Bulgarian seaside, I can’t do that.

Given all that, I would say there are charming and alarming things about both places. CHARMING IN BULGARIA: I love the open air markets and buying fresh fruits daily. Yes, we can do that here, too, but we have to sniff out the places and drive all over town. I also like the simplicity of life there. Life really IS just about friends and family and spending time with people you love. There is much less pretentiousness or competition there. No one is trying to be richer than their neighbors. It’s a pleasant change from here. CHARMING IN SAN DIEGO: Clearly the weather and the ocean rank at the top here. I am meant to live near an ocean. The people here are generally very laid back and casual attire is accepted pretty much everywhere. Since I am kind of “chill” myself, this suits me perfectly.

ALARMING IN BULGARIA: Some of this is obvious–the rampant corruption and complete ineptness of the government. Really, they are quite useless. The trash and graffiti and an overall lack of pride in the environment and surroundings. Women are always fully made up in Bulgaria and the tight pants/high heels style just doesn’t do it for me. Oh yeah, and there are a lot of grumpy people. GRRRRR!!! ALARMING IN SAN DIEGO: The cost of living is high and getting higher. I never want to live anywhere else, but I sure do have to work hard to stay living here. The status thing (and this could just be my age)–that ridiculous desire to drive a certain car or have a certain house so that you appear to be rich. The way people spend time–we lose so much time to working to amass “things” and not enough time nurturing relationships.

All that said, and still no clear answer. I would prefer the United States. In general we are safer here and far more protected. Our government usually works for us. (The next time you are disgruntled with the government, try living in a place that really has dysfunction–you’ll see we aren’t doing so bad!) My friends and family are here. Oh…and I speak English WAY better than Bulgarian! 🙂

Am I looking forward to going back to Bulgaria this week?

Believe it or not, I really am. When we came here earlier in the spring, I was worn out by the winter there. It was a supremely mild winter for them, but hugely MISERABLE for me. I.DO.NOT.LIKE.COLDNESS. At all. Ever. I don’t even put ice in my water. And I was frustrated with dealing with their government. But now all that has passed. We are returning for the end of spring and summer, which are actually quite pleasant times to visit Bulgaria, should you ever come. I can even see us visiting there annually as long as Mark has this business. I enjoy eating at the sidewalk cafes and reading in the parks. Everyone is in a good mood and laughing. It’s quite nice.

Our families have been so awesome to us. Really. We probably don’t deserve all they have done for us. We have stayed with them for free with nary a complaint. They have taken in our dogs and collected our mail, even moving money around in banks when it was necessary. We have loved living with my nephew and enjoying his antics. All that said, we like living on our own. I could never understand those people who chose to live with their families or friends (chose, as in not having to live there because of hardships). Even if I wasn’t married, I would be living alone…no roommates, just me. I like my solitude.

Are we taking the hound/Der Hund/Vladi?

No. He would have to be quarantined when we came back and we don’t want him to go through that. We spared him the agony by returning before the year was up. He is enjoying his mates at Mark’s parents house (though not sure if Mark’s parents are enjoying their new four-legged mate).

What wil I do there?

Well….I am not going to go out and get a real job for just 3 months time. I will keep helping Mark with his business and I am taking some work to do for school. Since my teaching teammates are possibly leaving the school next year, I am on my own for planning and preparing. I plan to get a head start while I am in BG. I will need it since when I come back I will only have one week to move into my classroom–from storage–and prepare to teach.

When we move home, will we miss all the friends we have made?

Sure. But not as much as we have been missing our friends and family here. I am sure we will return at least once annually to take care of business and visit, so it’s not like we will never see them again.

Ok, well that’s the FAQ for now. If I missed anything, just post your questions and I will be sure to answer them in the near future. Until then, we are off!!

Ciao, ciao!