Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A couple more thoughts about Bulgaria

First, if Western Europe is 1 and India is 10, Bulgaria is about 2. It's the same basic way of life.

It's a little poorer and a little pessimistic. Low on jobs and has some corruption. This can be very depressing. In the US, I've always thought "if there were no jobs, I'd start a business." Easier said than done, sure, but much easier said than done when entrepreneurship isn't woven into the walls of your country's culture.

The relationship between men and women is not great. It's kind of like America 50 years ago maybe, or India in 20 years. Men can do whatever they want, women are supposed to cook and clean and care for kids (and maybe hold down a job too). I'm sure it's subtler than that, but the main feature I could figure out about gender relations is just this pretty much straight up gradient of equality across different places. Oh, it's better in the city than in the villages too.

This week, I ate a lot better than I do in the states. I don't mean "healthier", in the modern messed up Western sense, I just mean better. The family I stayed with grew a lot of their own vegetables, got cheese and meat from fresh local etc vendors, started each meal with a big salad, distilled their own rakia. Drank a lot of milk, and by "milk" I mean "fresh actual real milk from real cows, mildly fermented like yogurt." CAFOs/factory farms are not part of their life.

The food's delicious too. Meals started with salad and cheese and olives, and then there would be some main dish, with some meat or something. Really good stuffed peppers, chicken, egg dishes, soups. Banitsa. It's not quite "fresh ingredients minimally processed" but it's closer to that than "throw everything into a big curry stew". There's some weird stuff (soup made from cow stomach, slices of pork fat), but by and large it was all pretty normal Western-style food with really good ingredients.

Travel-wise, something feels not quite right, and I think it's homesickness. So it goes. Now I'm in Austria (for a few hours) and everything about this place is beautiful, and tomorrow morning I'll be in Munich and (to paraphrase Churchill) I'll be less homesick but this Alpine region will still be pretty.


  1. Munich!!! I like that place! Rapel down the olympic stadium. Seriously you can do it and it's awesome.

  2. "Nostalgia" as another word for homesickness-that was an interesting idea in your link.
    I have felt it many times for Europe, especially Paris and London- even though they were never my home. When you travel enough, you may find you leave a little piece of your heart in other places. You may miss the familiar faces and comforts of the US. But when you return home, you can find yourself "nostalgic" for the charm of old European cities, or other lands that are fixed in your memory. When I return to Paris, I am moved to tears-and I have a sense that it has never changed.
    And yet, my family is home wherever they may move.