Joint

Pictures from an expedition

OK, now that I’ve posted these photos, I am well and truly done with writing about my travels to Bulgaria and Latvia. (Just click on any thumbnail and it will take you to a slideshow.)

Can I close by extending my thanks to everyone who made this trip possible? It all started, as I mentioned in the first installment of Travels with Xavi, with Matt Hagengruber, the former Gazette reporter now working at the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria. He and his colleagues had to find an emergency fill-in for a journalism professor who was scheduled to make presentations on media literacy and related topics in Bulgaria and Latvia but had to pull out.

Matt asked me to be that fill-in, and after passing muster with the powers that be, off I went on what was surely the strangest and most unexpected adventure of my life.

It was several days before I could feel anything but overwhelmed, but in time I felt unbelievably lucky, and honest-to-God honored to have been involved in this project, especially after I witnessed how important it was to all the many people I met in Sofia and Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, and in Riga and Jelgava, Latvia. I was infected with the sense of seriousness everyone conveyed, because over there the debate about press freedom and freedom of expression is not merely academic; it’s life or death, and holds one of the keys to the future of those countries.

I’d thank people by name, but considering that I couldn’t put a face to more than three or four of the several dozen business cards I came home with, let me extend my general thanks (make that THANKS!)  to one and all.

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