When I first arrived in Bulgaria, I was struck by the open countryside and the pleasant scenery. As my travels progressed my attention was also drawn to a rather unusual use for litter.
It appears that there is a year long litter festival. This festival consists of adorning the trees and bushes with litter, and also along the roadside litter can be seen. There is normally a pile of litter outside each village. Presumably this pile is to further enhance the surrounding area; it can be dipped into as and when required.
I also noticed that people often contribute to this rather artistic use of litter by disposing of it from the car in a random manner. This appears to show an appreciation of the litter festival and adds to the unique landscape. It is certainly a different use for litter, one that does not appear to have been adopted by many other countries so far; therefore it could become a tourist attraction.
David Waterhouse-Taylor, Stambolovo, Pavlikeni
I was intrigued by your article “By Fault or Design” in Vagabond No. 18. My partner and I are planning to build a small residential building in Sofia and we are very interested in the works of the architects Anna Nevrokopska and Radoslav Markov. As I would like to contact them to discuss the project, could you please give me their e-mail addresses or a way to contact them?
Antoine Bohuon, France
VAGABOND: We are very happy to put readers in touch with people and/or companies featured in VAGABOND, but as a matter of policy we do it the other way round: we will relay your details to them and then, if they wish, they will get in contact with you.
My Name is Sven from Berlin. I search the Woman with the Name Pepa Stefanova. She has working in Albena on the Beach ca. 1991!
You can me help??
VAGABOND: Of course we can!
I am a Zimbabwean who is married to a Bulgarian. I moved here with my family in August 2007 due the deteriorating economy in Zimbabwe. Currently one US dollar trades at 30,000,000 Zimbabwean dollars on the “parallel market” As a foreigner and a vagabond, (in Shona, Murudzi) I have found Bulgaria to be a great place, but sometimes there are certain folk who think that they own communal areas. This includes drivers, dog owners, pedestrians and grandparents.
The way people view the use of public space perturbs me. Everyone thinks the area outside his or her apartment belongs to them and screw everyone else. There seems to be a sense that “I” the individual is greater than “You” the community.
Drivers are the worse. I have had countless run-ins with drivers on pedestrian crossings. I now want to arm myself with a baseball bat and wield it at the driver as he tries to mow me down! I am sure Bulgarian drivers must be so annoyed by those pesky nuisances called pedestrians who dare to walk on “their” parking space - also known as the pavement.
Why throw your trash in a bin, when there are the sidewalk and government buildings? I work near the Pliska Hotel. The amount of refuse dumped there is phenomenal. I come from Africa so I would consider myself to be de-sensitised, but it is just disgusting.
Why pick up your dog's shit when it is so much more convenient for your dog to do it where my kid digs in the sand? Or on the sidewalk so I can step on it. I was in South Park and witnessed a beautiful Labrador relieve himself right by the bin. The owner waited patiently for the dog and patted it on the head. I wanted to pick up that turd and hurl it at her. Your dog is not the only dog in Sofia! The dog seemed to have more of an idea of socially acceptable behaviour!
Another thing I have noticed here in Sofia is the use of the sidewalk. It belongs to the “I” and the “Screw You” brigade. Why should I even consider moving out of the way when I am walking with five of my friends? My husband complained that I was too polite and that I should walk like a Bulgarian. I tested his theory on the next couple I saw. I stayed on course and almost bounced this poor woman out of her shoes. She was so shocked and shouted after me. I was so embarrassed and I still feel terrible.
Grandparents are great and thank God for them as they have become cheap babysitters for the working mom. But have you ever watched one of these lifesavers in action? The child is not allowed to do anything. Some of these kids are even kept on a leash. (Bulgarian dog owners please note) These fossils are so paranoid that their little ones will seriously injure themselves if they climb above half a metre off the ground. Oh, and if the kid gets dirty, all hell breaks loose. Grandparents even think they have the right to determine what is appropriate as a toy in the park. My child was attacked by a crazed grandfather while playing with a plastic sword. The old fart thought it was his right to disarm him. Apparently, plastic swords are very dangerous and should be licensed!
No country is perfect. In comparison to Zimbabwe these troubles are minor and petty. At least when I wake up in the morning there is running water, electricity and food in the fridge. And of course, there is always Zagorka!
Trudy Leonie Haralampiev, Murudzi, Zimbabwe (If you are wondering, I am white!)