Archaeologist Ivan Ivanov and arnThracian burial in Varna.rnrecently gone into operation and has anrninteresting beginning. Just before WorldrnWar II, Ivan Stanchov came to the UnitedrnStates, where he worked for IBM andrnthrough business became well off. Hisrnfamily had their property confiscatedrnwhen the communists took over. Afterrnthe “changes” of 1989 in Bulgaria, veryrnslowly some of the property has beenrnreturned to rightful owners. A familyrnhome overlooking the Black Sea was returnedrnto Stanchov, and he donated itrnfor the foundation helping handicappedrnchildren. One of his relatives had sufferedrnfrom cerebral paralysis, but even so,rnshe helped children all her life. Thernhome is named for her. Ivo was coveringrnthe story of Karin Dom for Sega magazine.rnCurrently there are about 50 kids atrnKarin Dom, although there are at leastrn100 in Varna alone who need the help.rnThe parents participate in the therapy,rnsometimes receiving counseling themselves.rnThe hallmark of the method usedrnat Karin Dom is for the children to playrnan active part in the therapy and not justrnhave things done for them, whether it’srnfinger painting or singing, and we heardrna lot of singing while we were there. Ivornremarked that it was good for his magazinernto cover something besides just thernelection, politics, and the economy—inrnother words, something positive beingrndone by people who were not on therntake. Watching the kids throw themselvesrninto their singing and painting wasrnvery moving.rnBefore we left Varna, the dark horserncandidate for president, Georg Ganchev,rnshowed up at a political rally in a hugerntheater in a mall. The place was jampacked.rnThe program was a real roadshow,rnwith Ganchev’s own singingrngroup, plus an assembly of Bulgarian folkrndancers. After the fine dancing andrnsinging, Ganchev led off his speech byrnsaying, “Now isn’t that a lot better thanrnall this American pop music?” I couldrnnot have agreed with him more. One ofrnthe minor exasperations of life in modernrnBulgaria, and I might add all over thernSlavic wodd, is the incessant loud musicrnwith beats that can knock you out ofrnyour chair. Every morning in my Sophiarnhotel, the Slavyanska Besseda, I sat in arndeserted dining room for breakfast andrnwas deafened by imitation American andrnEuropean rock.rnGanchev is a curious, sometimes semi-rnabsurd figure. He is a tall, large man,rnwith a heavy Slavic mustache, and notrnincidentally he has been a world professionalrnfencing champion. His fencingrnled to his teaching fencing to actors, thenrnto acting, directing, and singing professionally,rna great deal of which occurred inrnEngland and the United States. A paperbackrnbook on his life was handed out atrnthe political rally; the book documentedrnmuch of this activity and included a lotrnof promotional photos of most of hisrnadult life, including his two or threernwives. Nothing was too trivial to include:rna fourth place win in a “World of Poetry”rncontest, a certificate from the governorrnof Oklahoma declaring him an honoraryrncitizen, and, amusingly, a letter fromrnJane Fonda turning down an invitation torna film festival in Bulgaria “this or nextrnsummer.”rnBut politics and elections in Bulgariarnhave become so full of despair and lowrncomedy, as in the United States, that therncrowd is often looking for some relief,rnand they got it from Georg. Everyrnminute or so he would conclude his criticismrnof the government by declaringrnthat he would “take a stick of wood”rnto this minister, that politician. Whenrnthe final results came in, Ganchev hadrnpulled 20 percent of the votes and, as Irnrecall, only two percent less than the BulgarianrnSocialist Party.rnOn the way back to Sophia, we swungrnsouth briefly in order to visit a little jewelrnof a town, Nesebar. The colonies ofrnMiletus had controlled most of the tradernin the area, but this one was started byrnMegara. Later, when Roman power tookrnover, Vespasian founded a colony of Romanrnveterans here, perhaps to counterbalancernthe Greek population. Todayrnwhat is especially visible are the earlyrnByzantine churches in various stages ofrncompleteness. The one called the OldrnMetropolis is very likely fifth century.rnEspecially for an American, whose countryrnis so young and where evidences ofrnearly man go back a mere 10 or 20 thousandrnyears, it is exhilarating to sit by thernBlack Sea here and contemplate the risernand fall of peoples and empires, and evenrnto turn an anxious eye toward what isrncoming for his own.rnBack in the capital on the next day, arnSunday, the election got underway. Afterrnvisiting a voting precinct, I strolledrnover to the magnificent Alexandr NevskyrnGathedral and listened to the powerfulrnvoices of the Orthodox choir, some ofrnwhose members sing for the NationalrnOpera. The cathedral was built in thisrncentury to commemorate the 200,000rnRussian soldiers who died helping to liberaternBulgaria from Turkish domination.rnBelow the church in the crypt is a finerncollection of icons. I think this was thernfirst time I have seen one depicting thernchild Jesus playing. There is little play orrnhumor in Biblical stories, which is a pity,rnI think, considering the stories of Greekrnreligion. Southern preachers in America,rnblack and white, always had a store ofrnfunny stories or anecdotes to illustraterntheir traditional “three point sermons.”rnThe results of the election? UDE’srnPetar Stoyanov won by a healthy margin,rnthe ex-communists were rejected handily.rnAs I said, Ganchev the fencing championrnalmost beat the ex-communists. Inrnthe runoff election in November, UDFrntook 60 percent of the vote. A Bulgarianrnfriend of mine in the States told me gleefullyrnthat her parents had voted for therncomedians in the first election. Unfortunately,rnthe comedians did not get to runrnin the second primary in November.rnMatters are more problematic back inrnthe States; it’s much harder to tell thernclowns from the jerks. To put this in focus,rnsomeone was judging the Tongue-rn38/CHRONICLESrnrnrn