Friday morning was time for some final paperwork that VESTA needed before we left. After finding a little French bakery near the apartment, Rosi met us and walked with us to the notary’s office to complete all the remaining forms. She then showed us to the city square which is lined with the Hall of Presidents, Kings Palace, St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, among many other beautiful buildings. Nearby, a large statue of St. Sofia stands in the center of a main thoroughfare. Before saying our goodbyes she pointed us to stairs leading down to an underground street crossing which she suggested was the best place to buy Bulgarian souvenirs. We spent a good bit of time there (even though there are only about 8 small shops) and found one gentleman extremely easy to talk to and he taught us a bit about Bulgarian traditions/items while he carved some of the wood items he sells as part of his store. We actually went back to him three times throughout the day! We are excited to have some traditional gifts for our kids!
Along the walk we passed by an artists shop and outside was a large painted egg called “The Happiness Egg”. The plaque in front said you were supposed to touch the egg and make a wish. We both made our wish and I tend to bet most of you reading this can guess what it was!
We stopped at a chain restaurant called “Happy” of which there are two varieties; Happy Bar and Grill and Happy Sushi. We had tried the former in Varna so this time we sampled the sushi (I know, we are really diverting from the Bulgarian ‘experience’ today). Within a walking loop around the square (and in front of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral) there was a line of women selling hand-sewn items (of course we couldn’t resist) and then another flea market-type area with a wide of array of items. We fell in love with a painting a gentleman was selling but just couldn’t get over the thought of trying to pack it and get it home. We must say the people in Bulgaria have all been so welcoming and nice. Everyone working in the stores and markets smile, try to help us via hand gestures, etc. One young guy worked in a supermarket near our apartment that we went to about three times. He was there when we went at 8 in the morning and again at seven at night. He always smiled when we came in and we said “I know, we’re back”, to which he replied, “Yeah, and I’m still here”!
We got back to the apartment earlier today after a day of walking and shopping (about 3:30pm). We relaxed a bit, wrote out some of the days events in the journal for the kids (which doubles as our blog posts), and of course ate yet another dessert we picked up at a little pastry shop on the way back (we walked a lot, right?). This second apartment was probably even nicer than the first (even had a dishwasher!) although again, you really wouldn’t know it by looking at the outside! Most buildings/offices are really that way here.
We went over to the same Bulgarian restaurant at about 6pm to have our last Bulgarian beer and tried a traditional Bulgarian stew (yum) and a few other dishes I’m sure we’d never be able to replicate.
Two or three times during the day we sat down and looked through all the pictures we took and watched a few videos. Really it made us smile to remember the time we had with them. Throughout the day we would stop and ask each other, “Do you think they expected to be taken from the room to come see us today like all the other days and then got disappointed thinking we left them”? “Do you think they will remember us”? “Will they be mad we left and didn’t come back for 4 months”? Those kinds of questions are hard to think about; what is really going on in their minds? We sometimes looked at our watches and said, “Oh they are just getting ready to eat lunch now”, or “they should be getting ready for bed now”. Those thoughts are somewhat comforting; their life, as they know it, will go on for a few more months and the caretakers will hopefully talk to them about us, show them the photo albums we left them (thanks Johnny!), and push the buttons on the bears so they can hear us say how much we love them. We talk often about what we will bring the second trip, how many suitcases we will pack, and have started the packing list. Preparations are a good way to pass the time.
Soon it will be time for lots and lots of house preparations. Finishing our backroom so it’s not the child hazard it is now (exposed holes, power tools, electrical wires, etc) and preparing their room to welcome them home. It’s an exciting time. God is good.