I was so excited to get the opportunity to go back to Bulgaria! I loved it in June, and just knew I was going to return someday. I had a few other opportunities to go, but none of them were working out, so I was very disappointed. But God was working! At the last minute, a friend (we'll call her "Mama C," as she'd prefer not to have names online) asked me along on her referral trip, all expenses paid!
It was a long flight over (from the US to Germany to Bulgaria) and Mama C got horribly sick and just about swore off of plane travel forever! Thankfully, she discovered Dramamine.) ;)
Our flights got delayed and we were in Germany a little longer than we wanted to be. The older couple behind us accidentally made off with Mama C's carry-on, leaving theirs behind! Thankfully, we spotted them walking through the airport...
We finally made it to Sofia around suppertime on Saturday (I think it was Saturday?). The streets were lit up for Christmas and we passed several cathedrals on the way to our hotel. I was so happy to finally be back!
I was super excited to be staying in the same hotel where my friend, Stephanie, was! It was pickup trip for her and I was BEYOND THRILLED to see my beautiful nieces, Sarah and Anna! Poor Sarah - I walked into the downstairs restaurant and she was pitching an all-out screaming fit because she was done eating and she could see other people still eating. She was even tinier than I remembered. Unfortunately, I didn't get to spend much time with them that first night. But we had Sunday to hang out. I think Mama C was still trying to get over jet lag/motion sickness. I really enjoyed the time I had loving on my babies. =)
We also met another adoptive family, the Winslows, and we enjoyed running around town with them!
Mama C and Mary Winslow
These were ancient Roman ruins. The first time I was here, I mistook them for construction of some sort.
Not exactly sure what they were ruins OF. I did take pictures of the signs though, so I can look it up when I want to...
Pretty dramatic, hey? (Not so much...)
It was kind of cool though.
They were a few kilometers from our hotel, easily within walking distance.
These ones were underneath the street.
I love this tile on the building in the background! This was right around the time Glenn Winslow started getting "hangry," I think.
Mt. Vitosha overlooks Sofia.
Pretty church! We thought we could go inside to look around, like some of the other places, but a guy in a monk-type robe met us at the door, and we beat a hasty retreat...apparently this was NOT the cathedral we were looking for...oops!
Pretty gorgeous though.
There are a number of beautiful buildings on the streets of Bulgaria.
This one was a mosque.
Another lovely cathedral
Flags flying over what seemed to be a sort of mall. Most of the malls in Bulgaria that we visited are very small compared to American malls. The stores are about the size of a shoebox and all seem to carry the same merchandise. We spent the entire week in pursuit of cute stuffed animals for Buttons and Buddy. Let me tell you, they were hard to find...
I thought this little building was adorable nestled in between the larger ones.
Sunset in Bulgaria
As it was getting dark, we decided to ride the trolley back. Learning to use public transportation in a foreign country is rather adventurous (we relied a lot on helpful strangers who spoke English...) and I'm not sure we paid in the right place. It was fun though!
Monday morning we were off, bright and early, to Buddy's city! Sarah also came from the same city, so I had many emotions tangled up in my return.
I enjoyed the beautiful sunrise over the mountains.
We were in love! I couldn't take a picture of the first moment they met, but we went to an outside playground and I was allowed to snap a few pics.
Aren't they adorable?
I could just eat him up.
Back at the visiting center, he loved silly stuff like this...being pulled around by his legs. =) He kept saying "Ay de pak!" or "Do it again!"
We got to take him a bunch of places, including a local mall where we ate lunch. He loved yogurt dip, and this completely tasteless dessert called a "cream."
There was a play place, which Buddy enjoyed a lot!
Then he got tired and had to snuggle with Mama. <3
We got to do other cool stuff in the days we were there, including visiting his foster family. They were awesome, so sweet and kind! They served us refreshments in their house in the village. I asked to use the restroom (too much Coke!) and the adult daughter, who didn't speak any English, motioned for me to get my shoes on. I was a little confused until I realized I was headed to the outhouse! I must have looked confused (yes, I've used an outhouse before...) because the poor daughter looked so apologetic and said something that to me, with my *very* limited Bulgarian vocabulary, sounded something like, "In America, you all have toilets inside, yes?" followed by "So sorry!" in English.
"Oh no, it's ok, really!"
"No, not ok, sorry!"
Anyways, it was my first time using a "squatty potty."
He was trying to catch snowflakes on his tongue. =)
Typical boy....I pulled out the camera when Mama was in the bathroom and this is what I get.
Or this. Oh my goodness, melt your heart.
The hardest part was the day we left. Our social worker/translator/all around awesome person was explaining to Buddy that Mama had to go home for a while "to prepare your room, to get things ready for you." (Basically, to do paperwork, but how do you explain that to a little boy?)
Buddy let out a wail and threw himself across Mama C's lap and exclaimed (in Bulgarian), "BUT I *WANT* A MAMA!!!!!"
I could hear that cry, all the way back to the States. It swirled in the air, drifting back from Bulgaria, all the motherless and fatherless children waiting for a family that may never come..."BUT I *WANT* A MAMA!"
And my heart grieves.
Part 2 coming soon!