While I was traveling in Eastern Europe, my high-school friend, Sarah Spiridonov, made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I hadn’t talked with Sarah since we were 18 years old, but thanks to Facebook, we reconnected. She was married to a Bulgarian and they had two boys.
To help with my book, she generously proposed that I stay a couple of weeks in her family’s summer home in Turkincha, a tiny village about 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) from Veliko Tarnovo.
I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to take a closer look at a rural Bulgarian setting. The experience ended up surprising me in numerous ways.
The village of Turkincha
Francis Tapon is half Chilean and half French and he was born and raised in San Francisco, California. He’s been to over 80 countries, but he keeps coming back to this magical city because he loves earthquakes.
He spoke Spanish at home, French at school, and English everywhere else. He can get by in Portuguese and Italian, barely survive in Russian and Slovenian, and speak a few other languages.
Francis has an MBA from Harvard Business School and co-founded a successful Silicon Valley company that did robotic vision. He left his technology life to walk across America four times. He has thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, and in 2007, became the first to do a round-trip on the Continental Divide Trail. In 2009, he was one of the finalists for the California Outdoors Hall of Fame, which “features nominees who are world-renowned for their skills and who have helped inspire thousands of others to take part in the great outdoors.”
Francis has written a couple of travel books including The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us and Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America. He also produced a 77-minute video about his CDT Yo-Yo.