And we’re back where left off those oh-so many weeks ago before I left for my European Extravanganza….back to the visit from Linda, Mark’s mom. When I left, we were on Day 4, our adventure to Rila Monastery….you will recall that???

So, we clearly needed a day of rest before another major adventure, such as the one we were about to embark on—to the Black Sea. On the day before we left we spent our time organizing and doing laundry. Well, that is primarily how Linda spent her time. Mark and I had the pleasure of going down to a ministry and applying for our lichna karta, also know as the Bulgarian National ID card…the very document that absolutely proves our legal standing in this country.

Now perhaps you, like me, are noting the pink-elephant-in-the-room paradox here. We have a month and a half to go and we are just now applying for our lichna karta??? What’s the point, you ask? (And I asked it, too.) Well, the point is that for one, I need to have proof that I have applied for this all important laminated card in order to enter and exit the country freely. Also, Mark will need it for his subsequent travels to and fro in the next year.

So we went and applied. But you should not be surprised to learn that the process is not so simple as you apply and then a card is made and then you get it and move on with your life. Ohhhhhh nooooooooo. Not here. You turn in your papers. Someone reviews them over the next 7-10 days (you know, because it takes 7-10 days to look at 4 pieces of paper) and then they get back to you with whatever else you will need. Now, we already know that we will need to notarize–yet again!–my marriage certificate. And…get this…Mark must write out a promise that he will not “throw me out” while we are here and get that notarized. Yeah, I’m serious. You see, I am being granted residency based on his job, so if he tosses me aside, I am no longer legal. You can imagine how well all this sits with me…

Anyways, the important thing is this: I got the ever important stamp in my passport that says I am in the process of getting my lichna karta so I can come and go as I please, which is key since I am leaving the day after we return from the Black Sea.

After the lichna karta business, I returned to the flat and prepared for the Black Sea–not so difficult since about everything Mark and I own right now fits into one bag, and we certainly are not taking everything we own on vacation. Then, in the afternoon, we went up to Mark’s office to meet him and his partners for dinner.

Oh, but a funny taxi ride. Or maybe not so funny to Linda. You see, everyone has been so nice to her that I really felt like she wasn’t getting the true Bulgarian experience—you know, the one where the shopkeeper yells at you for touching the tomatoes, etc??? Well, she had it on this day. We got into the taxi and she shut the door with an average amount of force and the driver, who suddenly now knew English, started yelling at her:

“CAN’T YOU READ THE SIGN???” and points to a miniscule sign on the window that says something like “Close Door Gently”.


And then he proceeded to sign and harumph the whole way up to the office. So I did what any good Bulgarian would do and gave him exact change, no extra and slammed the door on my way out. Man, I am like a native here now.

We had a huge dinner at a restaurant and then waddled home to complete our Black Sea preparations.

Days 6-9: Black Sea!