Sofia, Bulgaria

The first international congress on "Deterministic and Stochastic Aspects of Biointercation," DESTOBIO '97, met in Sofia, Bulgaria, from August 28 to 31, 1997. Even though I arrived during the second day, it was an emotional event for me because it meant returning for my fifth visit to Bulgaria after an eight-year hiatus during which the country was deeply changed. It also meant meeting an impressive group of about 140 researchers from many fields and nationalities, many of whom are good friends I had not seen for several years.

The eclectic mix of participants was very stimulating, since there were many experts in stochastic modeling, and many experts in deterministic. Many younger researchers, and many more seasoned ones (I would not say older). The number of talks seemed just right. There were a few plenary lectures each day, followed by special sessions running in parallel, four at a time. I only wish there had been an extra half day so that more time could have been allowed for discussions.

There was an excursion to the Rila monastery, which I did not join due to my late arrival, but which was one of the milestones of the trip to Bulgaria for most participants. I have visited Rila before, and I think it was an excellent destination for a time of relaxation and even some poetry: a Haiku about the meaning of life was written by a couple of the participants during the excursion, and it was presented as the closing of the meeting.

The conference banquet was also memorable. Overabundance of delicious food accompanied by good Bulgarian wines. We proved to be a very lively crowd who even joined in the dances with the Folk ensemble present.

The organization was flawless, and it is only appropriate to express yet another time my warmest thanks and congratulations to Tanya Kostova and the rest of the Sofia team who made sure that it was that way. It really puts a burden on the organizers of the next DESTOBIO to try to keep these meetings running at the high scientific level of the first one, and just as flawlessly.

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