Wednesday, August 15th: We arrived in Sofia,Bulgaria with very little sleep, a lot of luggage, and a newly world-traveled dog named Guiseppe. The plane trips (more than one!) were a bit wild, with us running through the airport to make our connections. But more on that later….

Upon our arrival, we began our search for Guiseppe. He had been put with the suitcases on the plane and we had to go find him. Mark was looking all over for somebody who understood English to help us find the dog. Meanwhile, I turned my head, and there he was!!! Going around in circles on the luggage conveyor belt, as if he were just another suitcase. Poor doggie:(

It took nearly an hour, but we were finally able to clear Guiseppe through Customs (Customs is where the government makes sure you aren’t bringing anything illegal into the country, like drugs or stolen things), gather all of our suitcases, and meet Mark’s partner, Andrey. Andrey predicted we would have too many suitcases for his car, so he brought a friend with another car to help move all our things to the hotel. He was right—it did indeed take TWO CARS! We loaded everything up, and we were off!!

I have never been to Bulgaria (have you???), so everything seemed very different to me. I stared out the car window and tried to understand what my new life was going to be like. It would be completely different from life in San Diego, that’s for sure! The Bulgarian language uses different letters than our alphabet, so I could not even read the signs. Of course, I did not understand a word anyone was saying. And I had no idea where I was. This would be an adventure.

The ride to the hotel was a bit scary. The streets here are very narrow and the cars drive extremely fast. I just closed my eyes and held on tight. Once we got to the hotel, I took poor Guiseppe, who had been in his crate for 23 hours now, out for a walk. He really had to go to the bathroom!!! Once we got checked into the hotel, we carried all of our luggage upstairs. Did I mention there are almost no elevators here and everything is upstairs? Well, that’s true. Andrey left us to get settled in and we agreed to meet for dinner at 7:30 Bulgarian time.

We took a small nap (we hadn’t really slept on the planes), took a shower, changed our clothes and walked to Mark’s office. There, we met Mark’s other business partner, Niki. (In Bulgaria, Niki is a man’s name). Niki had been in the United States a few years ago, so I already knew him. When I first saw Niki at the office, he said, “Well, you are finally here!!! How do you feel? Like you have landed on the moon???” Yes, that’s exactly how I felt, like I had landed on the moon!!

(to be continued)