We were exhausted. Our feet were blistered, our legs heavy, and our faces, a little sunburnt. We’d just returned from one of those not-quite-as-short-as-anticipated hikes, on what had been one of those deceptive springtime days, the type of mid-April day that starts off lazily, pleasant and breezy, and then quickly becomes all about finding shade,and filling up your water bottle; sun fierce on the back of your neck, with even the new season’s first blossoms, eventually, proving little distraction from the heat.
With our friends, Maya and Droby, we’d spent the previous couple of days camping, and hiking. We’d been searching for huge stone formations, that would rise from the ground, shaped like mushrooms and covered in prehistoric carvings, and along the way had been visiting sleepy little Bulgarian villages, hidden away in the mountains of eastern Bulgaria, not too far away from the Turkish border, and a nauseating two hour bus ride out of the city of Plovdiv – an ancient city, built on seven hills, which in the springtime, is decorated with pastel Easter eggs, and hanging ribbons, twisted around the branches of Magnolia trees, and fluttering in the breeze.
We walked the asphalt roads, glittering with quartz crystals, and then the sticky mud trails, that wound their way up, down and across terraces, through these crumbling villages, with their abandoned stone farmhouses and drastically dwindling populations, crossing paths, sometimes, with the few people who still call these places home.
The enchanting elderly woman, adorned in pearls and wearing a patterned turquoise headscarf, who would, with a beaming smile, offer you overladen plates of eggs and honey, together with minuscule cups of sticky sweet, and deadly strong, black coffee.
And her husband, who would tell us that we were the first people they’d seen in weeks, and share stories (translated, of course, by our Bulgarian friend, and wonder-photographer/adventurer, Maya), of the village across the river, just a little further along the valley, where just the one man lives, now, surrounded only by memories, a few chickens and cows, and the skeletons of houses.
View our entire Bulgaria Flickr album here!