Without question, the best thing about living in Boychinovtsi for two months was enjoying the company of my host family. They adopted me as a son and accepted me as a sibling.
In some ways, my host father, Stoil, reminded me of both my grandfathers, but getting to know him was more like getting to know a great grandfather or even a great, great grandfather. Although I could understand little of what he said, I felt a very special connection with him. Summer in Bulgaria means work, and Stoil worked almost non-stop from 5:30 in the morning to after 10:00 at night. And, he is as kind as he is hard-working—a rare combination to say the least.
My host mother, Mitka, is equally kind. She loves to cook and kept me well fed during my entire time in Boychinovtsi. I learned much from her, as she patiently explained things to me in elementary Bulgarian.
My other language teacher was Sveti, my host niece. She guided me on walks around the neighborhood and pointed things out one after another, telling me the Bulgarian word for each. I tried to return the favor, but she seemed much happier when I introduced her to UNO. She’s now addicted.
My host brother, Ivo, and his wife, Rosi, joined us on weekends when work allowed. They also generously invited me into their home in Vratsa on more than one occasion and went out of their way to make me feel welcome.
Our experiences are often colored, for better or worse, by those around us. My first two months in Bulgaria were enhanced immeasurably by the host family who got stuck with me.
Stoil and Mitka.
Mitka and Rosi.
Ivo and Rosi.
Stoil and Ivo ... Nazdravey!