Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Step Back in Time

If nothing else, Bulgaria is a country of contradictions – a paradox. Among other things, many Bulgarians loathe village life and desperately flee rural Bulgaria for the promise of a better life in the big cities. These same people often look down upon villagers as simpletons, yet reminisce about and long for the simple life. Few of these folks actually like living in the big cities, and every weekend they exit them en masse and head back to their villages.

Since getting off the plane a little over a year ago, I’ve had a fondness for Bulgarian villages. Spending time in rural Bulgaria has always seemed like taking a step back in time and walking through a living, breathing history museum. Seeing this photo album only reinforces that belief and shows how similar two very dissimilar places can be across generations.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Сливен (Sliven)

A group of us recently converged on the town of Сливен (Sliven) for a three-day HIV/AIDS training conference for Bulgarian youth leaders. Most of us confront apathy and ignorance on a daily basis, especially those of us who teach. So it was refreshing to work with Bulgarian teens who actually think about and care about these and other issues and who want to make Bulgaria a better place to live.

We were tied up in the conference most of the time we were in Sliven, but we did get to spend a few hours exploring Сините камъни (the Blue Rocks). Here are a few photos from the area.

Сините камъни is located on the outskirts of Sliven. A 20-minute chair lift takes you up and down the mountain.

And this is what you see ...

Of course, no promise that the view will be so clear or that there will be a pretty girl on the top of the mountain.

Bulgaria is home to two species of tortoise - Hermann's and Spur-thighed - both of which are globally threatened. I was thrilled to find this Hermann's Tortoise plodding along in one of the hotel flower beds.