The so-called "Gypsy Bride Market" seemed to be several things rolled into one: a fair of sorts, a reunion of sorts, a matchmaker's convention of sorts, a prom (or debutant ball) of sorts. Whatever it was, it was nothing like the cattle auction it's been reported to be by the media. I expected to be uncomfortable, and I was. Not because this was some archaic and patently offensive sale of young women, but because we had no business being there. We showed up uninvited and brought nothing to the party other than our presumed moral superiority. Despite this, and even though we were there at least in part to judge, we weren't shunned or otherwise made to feel unwelcome. On the contrary, everyone was accepting if not overly accommodating and friendly. What made me uncomfortable was the voice in my own head that kept asking, "Who the hell are you to judge anyway?"
Here are some shots from the event.
These two girls were at the center of some controversy. A freelance reporter from Spain wanted to interview them (and any other girls hoping to be "bought" at the market). The reporter couldn't understand or speak Bulgarian, so without help from a translator she was useless. Anyway, an elderly gentleman claiming to speak on behalf of all Калайджии said no one could be interviewed or photographed until an official translator showed up. The girls' grandmother took exception to this and a small pissing contest ensued. In any event, maybe the girls found love because a few hours later they both were with boys.
This girl was one of the "lucky" ones. She and her new husband both seemed pretty happy.
Gotta love the media getting in someone's face to "get the story."
Alas, I didn't find a bride worth purchasing. Instead, I bought a horsewhip at this stand. A 5 leva souvenir from my first and, in all likelihood, last visit to a bride market.