As usual, I am way behind on posts, and even worse, I am running out of time for said posts to be relevant given that I am finishing my job in 8 working days (but who’s counting) and then will be out of Bulgaria for good on July 27. BUT, don’t worry too much, as I think I will be bringing my laptop on my crazy 19-day Balkan road trip in July, so there should be some good adventures before all is said and done.
Another item that recently got crossed off the bucket list was my family visiting me in Bulgaria and me being able to take them around as if I actually knew what I was doing and as if Bulgaria was, like, an actual functional place to visit and all. And I have to say, I think it went really well. My family might be reading this and thinking something completely different, but at least from my perspective I think the 4-day stay in Bulgaria went about as well as I could have hoped. I only got lost once in the car (missed the turn for the ring road on the way back from Boyana, and then got on the ring road in the wrong direction for a while because I got confused and somehow thought Boyana was southEAST of Mladost), and by the time we got to Zhenski Pazar on Sunday it was closing up (and thunderstorming) which seemed to bring out the sketchy characters in full force, but otherwise it went off basically without a hitch, surprisingly.
Also unexpected about my family’s visit was my perspective on Sofia and Bulgaria itself. Before my family arrived, I was convinced I was going to be self-conscious about Sofia the way you suddenly notice all the dust and dirt spots you’ve missed cleaning when you have guests over. I thought all of Sofia’s flaws would become even more apparent when I was attempting to guide my totally innocent family through the maze of Bulgaria-ness. But actually the opposite was true: it was as if I had arrived along with my family and was suddenly seeing Bulgaria through new eyes, yet with the perspective to be appreciative of the hidden loveliness of this country. Vitosha loomed bright and green on the walk to school, the buildings downtown glowed a warm yellow, even the dogs seemed to go into hiding—or were quieter, at least. Maybe it was the fact that my family was here or maybe it was what my family represented—the fact that I will be leaving soon—but for those four days, and a lingering effect afterward, I loved this place, potholes and all.
The title of this post, however, refers to the fact that my family simply cannot take pictures at all. Everyone looks pissed 95% of the time, even if they really aren’t. The exception is me: I actually smile (my brother sometimes grimaces in a way that approximates an attempt to smile). This creates the odd effect that somehow I am gleefully torturing my family on vacation, so I wanted to preface the pictures by explaining that the Bulgaria visit, contrary to appearances, was actually fine.