In fact, the author had been visiting Bulgaria since 1990 and spent many months in the country as it moved toward a different political and economic system, a new approach to education, and a wider field of overseas experience to study. From the beginning, the author was intoxicated by the intellectual enthusiasm, the fact that Bulgaria was almost unknown in the West, and that is was unlike any other country — what Bulgarians love to call "normal countries." In fact, the author found Bulgaria a good deal more "normal" than most places, a deep love of apocalyptic predictions, a most civilized society and a place where nothing was ever what it seemed — except the people. The author has used a "diary" format to preserve the true feel of unfolding events, rather than the more measured and contemplative narrative style. The surprises are all still here in the text. Finally, as a tribute to Alecko Konstantinov, whose house in Svistov was a remarkable moment in the author's time in Bulgaria, he has called this work: "To Sofia and Back".