From Vilanova to Sofia
At the end of my last post, I was about to fly to Sofia for my first conference in Bulgaria, WebTech 2006. The flight was perfect – as we landed, the passengers applauded the pilot. Nice! I have seen this gratitude only once before on a flight to New York on an Air India flight. I loved the old airport with its 2 luggage belts. It was so different from all the places I have been. Unfortunately this airport is now only used for domestic flights and I never had the occasion to use it again. You may remember me mentioning that I had previously broken a tooth just before flying out. Once I got to the hotel, I realised that I had to have that tooth repaired before the conference as it was cutting the inside of my cheek and talking became painful (peace at last for the techies!). There was no way I could attend the conference without a visit to the dentist. So I asked the receptionist if she could help me out. Very kindly she told me that she would try to arrange an appointment for the morning.
Morning arrived: I spoke to the receptionist and was told that she and the hotel driver would take me to the dentist. I was rather surprised as I never thought I would need an escort. So, in the car we went. I realised what a privileged area the hotel was in, as we were now driving on streets with lots of potholes and weeds growing everywhere. We passed big, ugly concrete blocks of flats and I seriously started to wonder what was going to happen to my mouth. The car stopped in front of the most rundown block. Great. By then I was a little edgy but never mind – repairs had to be done. We entered a very dark hall with a light that did not work (or was it a naked bulb? I cannot remember). I went into the dentist’s office which was very bright, the equipment reminded me of my first visit to the dentist when I was a child (yes, I know, a long time ago): the equipment was very clean-looking but very old. I began to take very deep breaths. What was going to happen to me? Would I be able to talk at the conference? Would I even be able to talk ever again?!
… when the young, friendly dentist began speaking English to me, I was almost disappointed. All that stress for nothing! He did a fantastic job, and eleven years later, the tooth is still there as good as new. I still do not know why I was escorted by two people but I can only be thankful to them. I could go to the conference and be my normal(?) self.
This photo could have been taken from the car on my way to the dentist. Thankfully these communist-era blocks are being modernised or replaced entirely. One should not forget that Bulgaria was part of the USSR until December 1989 when everything was ruled by Moscow, and most of the country was depleted of its riches. Bulgaria has done extremely well since its independence. Every time I go there I am surprised by the new look, the better way of life the people have achieved.
To be continued