Saturday, 11 January 2014

Reflecting on what has happened and what I am doing

With only eight weeks left until I leave the country it is probably understandable that over the last few days I have been thinking about this whole journey and considering all the things which have happened in the past two years.

In this blog I am going to revisit a load of historical pictures from the many visits to Bulgaria right from the first time, and use them to talk about how I am feeling right now, for posterity-sake; I know many people will never do anything like I am doing and I think it is interesting to try to capture the roil of emotions which are going through my mind right now.

Snow in the airport carpark, with the hire car
Snow in the airport carpark, with the hire car
So, going all the way back to that first visit, flying out to Sofia from Manchester with basically no expectation or idea of what to expect. The snow was quite thick on the ground when we collected the car from the friendly car hire people and we got lost on our way out of Sofia (down to my resistance to asking questions but we managed to find the road and then that legendary fog came down; so thick that I couldn't even see the sides of the road as we were driving near Plovdiv and Acenograd. It was a good thing that I had the satnav, and J with me, as I would not have been able to drive if I hadn't had a co-driver to read the satnav and warn me of the routes.

There are a few specific things which have been running through my head for the last couple of days, though, specific to this trip.

The battered truck wheezing along
The battered truck wheezing along
First of all was a memory of taking this picture. We were in the hotel booked by my friend and I remember waking up and looking out of the window and seeing a dirty, unkempt looking street with this ancient looking truck puffing and panting as it tried to pull across the street. It was such an unpromising sight, such a distance from the natural beauty that we knew (or at least, hoped) would greet us. You may think that it put me off but I can remember taking a really deep breath and laughing and saying "look at that; we're in a different country... how amazing is that!" and then spending the next two or three minutes trying to count all the skodas and other ancient vehicles which looked so dilapidated they would have been condemned in the UK.

The other thought actually goes back in time from this picture. The road towards that first town travels down a hill and around a couple of corners (past a police check which has stopped me just once in all the times I have been travelling; he asked to see my spare wheel and then waved me on, having learned a couple of English words off me, but that was a different time) and I have for some reason been fixated on this part of the drive, remembering that first ever time and the feelings I was experiencing as I drove us down towards our destiny, not knowing the future, and then thinking about how it will feel to drive down that stretch of road in March with my parents with me and once again be driving towards such a momentous destiny.

It is these two things which have been bouncing around my head, bringing echoes of the past to my consideration of the future which is rushing towards me so fast now.

Now to talk about another couple of key happenings in the last two years which have come to my thoughts while planning this blog (these have NOT been bouncing around as "echoes of my past" though, not in the same way...)

Here is me, falling in love with Bulgaria
Here is me, falling in love with Bulgaria
The third thing which always stuck with me from that trip was a specific spot which we found while driving around which we returned to a couple of times in that trip. It was just a gravel stretch next to a road above a little village and with a mountain-lined valley stretching out below. The only sound was that of cow bells tinkling on the animals which were straggling along the rocky banks below the road, and the only company very irregular horse and carts pottering past. We had bread and cheese and I had a HUGE and amazingly tasty orange and we just sat there, quietly and both of us falling deeply in love with this amazing country. That was the moment, right there, when the decision was made; Bulgaria was the place for me.

One sincerely bittersweet part of these memories is the fact that I was planning on going with J and, though our separation has been remarkably amicable, I am going alone and these memories were all created with her, and she was part of it. It just goes to show that nothing does happen as you plan, not really.


Carrying on, to another moment in this journey was one of the house hunting trips with George from Bulgarian Properties. We had viewed a couple of places which were not really suitable and were on the way to the last viewing of the day. The drive took us along a really difficult road, bouncing around in the 4x4 and thinking "wow how can we even THINK about moving up a road like this"; a thought which probably took hold of J slightly more than me because when I got up to the houses I immediately felt so happy and relaxed. All you could hear was two rooks calling to each other across the valley, and there were no houses within sight. What an isolated and amazing place. To finalise the memory, complete the story, it would not have been practical to buy these as a main residence as they would have been cut off for a couple of months every year, and getting building materials to them would have proven way too difficult. Also, sadly, one of them got sold and we would have wanted to buy both properties. Just shows again that this process is not simple, and you can't presume things will work your way.

.... well this blog has just ground to a halt because I couldn't find that picture above... and now I want to end it....

Cheers for reading.

1 comment:

  1. That's what you get for drinking whisky with honey in it! :o)