One of the most amazing things about being in Bulgaria is being able to witness the rate of progress. Hang on, let me rephrase that: the rate of change. There are probably twice as many cars on the road as there used to be (we were the only car parked outside of our apartment block when we first arrived), transport is getting shinier and newer and there is seemingly unending building work going on. There are of course the downsides to this: beautiful old hand-painted signs for businesses are being replaced with bland plastic ones and the increase in traffic is annihilating the roads making the ones in town more pot-holey than ever.
But Burgas Plaza (and therefore Carrefour) is here! And even more surreally, Yambol ‘City’ Mall! I don’t remember them building a cathedral in Yambol to promote it to city status, but we’ll overlook that for now, as all these new shops will mean more employment in the locality which can only be a good thing. I can’t help being a little saddened though that this could be the beginning of the end of the little shops (who are already feeling the effects of the economic ‘crisis’) and erase the quirky Bulgarian culture from the towns. The very fact that it’s different makes it special to us.
There is no better way to highlight quite how different Yambol is, than by going to a slick, efficient city like Frankfurt. Sheesh. It’s so clean. And organised – and finished. And they all speak German. So of course they don’t understand blagodarya and molya which was all that was coming out when I wanted to say please or thank you. By the second day my Bulgleutsch was coming on a treat and it was only as I touched down in Sofia after my little adventure that any fully coherent German sentences were forming, which threw the Bulgarian taxi driver completely. What an adventure, though. I just about remembered how to be a professional person, wear tights and not leap around too exciteably – and judging by the way the new ZEN was received, it could well have been one of the best Frankfurts for Audient too! Thanks Luke and Steve for all the fun, chats and support.
The day before Frankfurt we received the very bad news that had been on the cards for some time: Magda, our 53 year-old neighbour downstairs who’d been suffering from cancer had died. As our first cat-sitter and having always been received with smiles and friendliness, it was particularly difficult. Following tradition we took our even number of flowers to place on her coffin, where she lay looking amazingly peaceful. As my own little tribute, later on that day Baba Maria and I sat out on a bench outside our block watching the world go by whilst she talked incomprehensible Bulgarian to me and vice versa.
We have just waved off Matt & Mel* who spent W. European Easter with us. It was an absolute scream and we will not forget wading through leaf-drifts in the Strandzha forests, much camera geek-age in picturesque Jeravna village, Dr Who being screened in Novo P just 24 hours after its UK airing, Leonardo Da Vinci, kebabs and ice cream in Burgas and the ‘sucking glasses onto face’ competition that Jeremy instigated at The Bulevard restaurant which, after several bottles of wonderful wine ended in tears…of uncontrollable giggles!
Progress is picking up pace at the Novo P house too. Yippee! Our latest stumbling block has been where to find a builder that wasn’t extortionately priced or already on a job. We have a meeting with Dancho (builder recommended by the old mayoress) on Monday evening to discuss the drawings and costs, whilst Ivan (builder recommended by the new mayoress and also featured in Wedding TV show) has reappeared and will be plasterboarding our ceilings starting on Wednesday.
But before all of that, The Event Of The Year is occurring. Clashing spectacularly with Bulgarian Orthodox Easter Sunday (with a level of importance more akin to a UK Christmas) is Jeremy’s 40th birthday! This should herald the start of a more mature outlook on life, with less silly games in restaurants that we might want to visit again in the not-too-distant-future. That’s a level of ‘change’ that I don’t think either of us are ready for though.
Righty. There are things to be wrapped and only a few hours left to do it… so thanks for reading and see you soon!
* the wedding photographers