Friday night we met at Kat’s palatial apartment for pizza and football (since she works for the embassy, she is eligible to get Armed Force Network.) Unlike every other apartment building I’ve seen in Bulgaria, this one had a doorman, and immaculate commons areas. Suffice it to say Kat lives in the lap of luxury; her spacious kitchen, dining and living rooms are bigger than any of our apartments, and—although I never took the full tour—I understand there were several bedrooms back there. That’s a lot of space for single girl! What we probably coveted the most, though, was her clothes dryer—sure miss that modern convenience.
In any case, it was a very American evening. We watched Ohio State beat Michigan (to Ryan’s chagrin,) snacked chip & salsa (which Kat buys at the commissary in the Embassy,) ate Pizza Hut pizzas and potato skins that Julia so expertly prepared. However, Ryan kept getting calls from his co-workers who where having a house party on the other side of town. So, around midnight, we piled into two taxis and headed across town. We were dropped off in front of some dark, soviet-style high-rise, but we were confident we were at the right place because the address was spray-painted on the corner of the building. After riding the elevator to the 14th floor, we fumbled around looking for the apartment until I noticed a faint numbers penciled on the wall next to doors. We were soon ensconced in simple warmth of Bulgarian hospitality. In their small living room, there were half a dozen people sitting on couches along with some snacks, beer, and wine. One guy was playing a guitar, and another added some percussion with a half a jar of peanut—or at least that’s what we thought it was; turns out that was his instrument—some kind of shaker. After playing a couple of songs in Bulgarian, the guitar would be passed to Ryan for few American songs. We had a good time all around; however the dichotomy in living standards would easily be the most memorable part of the evening.