November 25, 2008

Entering the Land of Cyrillic
Shumen, Bulgaria

Well, after spending the last 72 nights in Romania, we've finally made it out of the country and into Bulgaria. (Total amount spent: US$508.92)

Romanian passport stamps

The big surprise of the day came when we had to fork out a whopping $20/person for the brief train ride across the border from the capital, into the city of Ruse. By comparison, the longer train ride from Pite┼čti cost about $7.50, with another $5/person for the bus taken to the outskirts of Shumen.

Unfortunately the smallish shuttle bus was only passing by the town, not entering into it. I knew this ahead of time, and wasn't surprised when we were dumped well after sunset along the side of the highway, some 6+ kilometers from the city.

Thankfully, it was next to a small collection of restaurants and the such, and within minutes a store owner had called us a taxi.

Our new host is another American Peace Corps volunteer named Josh. He's not an official member of CouchSurfing, but a buddy of Coulter's, our previous host (who was leaving town for Thanksgiving, triggering our ultimate departure from Romania).

Within a few days of departing we quickly opted for Josh's place when I learned that our intended host, closer to the border, had no indoor plumbing in this freezing weather (yes—that would've been nice to know some weeks ago).

Our bedroom for three nights

Josh's place is sorta dumpy (especially after Coulter's immaculate, recently renovated pad) and he sort of reminds me of a character from the Talented Mr. Ripley—the one played by Philip Seymour Hoffman.

I don't think I'll soon forget one of the first questions from Tatiana when we got to his place:

Tatiana: What are those little blue cubes all over the floor?

Josh: Oh, those? Cockroach poison.

(Tatiana examining a partially eaten cube)

Tatiana to me, later: We're NOT letting Aidric on the floor.

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