After resolving not to get sucked into a dark and gloomy winter this year, I’m happy to report that January has proved to be quite the opposite: both metaphorically and literally.
We have enjoyed one of the most social months since we’ve been here, celebrating name days with our friends Yordan and Ivan and their families. Yordanovden has the added curiosity of a priest coming to the village, blessing a cross then chucking it into the reservoir, so some semi-naked teenagers can jump in after it. Apparently if you’re first to swim and catch it, you get a whole heap of luck for the rest of the year. Or pneumonia.
I was also invited to join in at the old pagan female festival of Babinden (Grandma Day) which is dedicated to women who help in childbirth. Our good friend Petya ‘played’ the midwife and washed her hands under a fruit tree in the square, splashing water over the gathered crowd for health and prosperity. This was followed by a bit of diddly-diddly dancing in the square and an intense afternoon with 51 other village ladies: all of whom smoked at each other and drank rakia across tables heaving with food. Possibly negating any effects of the earlier ritual.
We took ourselves off skiing for a long weekend and had an absolute ball in Borovets, having discovered the resort with friends a couple of years ago. We were staying so close to the slopes this time we could have skied back to the apartment had it not been on the second floor, and we revelled in the fact that whilst we were there, we were enjoying the best snow for some twenty years! We had so much fun, we hope to go back again in March – but not with squeezy Marmite this time, which at altitude doesn’t stop squeezing. At all.
We are very pleased to announce the opening of a restaurant in NovoP: Mehana Terzievi. Indeed we are so extremely excited that there is a local eatery now, that we celebrated by drinking rather too much wine there last week and dancing the hora (Bulgarian line dance) with the owner. Just the three of us. I can’t decide whether the other diners were entertained or simply bemused by the whole evening, but at least we keep it interesting!
There have been low points. The dustbin lorry drove past the house last week scraping the whole wing mirror and some of the paint off the car, which has meant we’re now wading into the world of Bulgarian insurance claims. ‘Midwife’ Petya drew on some of her other skills, and was a tremendous help filling in the forms and liaising with us and the lorry driver, making what seemed like an impossible task more bearable. Next stop is taking the damaged car to Burgas to show the other chap’s insurance company, a trip we haven’t been able to do yet, as we’re currently up to our armpits in snow.
Blizzards besieged the country last week, leaving a lot of Bulgaria under code orange (whatever that means) and in some cases without electricity and water. We are lucky, in that although we have had power cuts, they haven’t lasted long enough to allow our petchka to boil over (or affect our television viewing) and the internet has only dropped off for a few hours at a time. It has however meant we have not been able to leave the village at all, as the roads are polished to the point of being lethal.
Having said that we have had some beautiful crisp, sparkly white days covered with a canopy of cloudless blue, which have lifted spirits which might otherwise have been frozen solid. Time to slide to the local shop and see whether they’ve had their bread delivery, otherwise it’s plan B: make our own!
Much love from an orange & white NovoP xxx