Towards the end of WWII a military song called ‘Xopoша страна Болгария’ – Nice country Bulgaria – became very popular among the Soviet Red Army soldiers `visiting` other countries. However, since the Reds were longing for their home, the song ended with the line ‘A Poccия лучше всех’ – but Russia is the best of all. Hmm, for somebody whose country is the most beautiful in the world, I must say they stayed pretty long here (and in a couple of other places too) – about 40 years !
Now I’m not sure what was the view that made the anonymous Russian soldier state the title of the song, but I’m sure that, had he ‘patrolled’ in the Rila, he would have had enough material for a whole oratorio, not just for a lousy song !
Back to present time, here I am on the Roof of the Balkans, enjoying the astonishing view and the temporary title of ‘highest person in the Balkan Peninsula’.
As an extra bonus for my perseverence and good behaviour (I didn’t litter and I covered with snow every place where I took a piss), I get a brief unexpected birdwatching session, during which my birding list enriches on spot, at 3000 m, with a new species: the Alpine Chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus)– a sort of a high altitude crow.
Of course, I didn’t bring the tele-lens, but the birds are friendly and used to the human presence (the leftovers from the meteo station are their only source of food in this white desert), so the landscape lens would do just fine.
…and back to the sightseeing…
I don’t claim having understood Bulgaria and its whole spirit after a few years of occasional visits here and there. I cannot even make such a claim about my own country after all. But I have a hunch about Bulgaria: this country is time-proof. Time shall never leave notable marks on it, other than exterior appearances that may follow a time pattern. This is the feeling I got at almost 3000 m, slowly touring the horizon. Maybe I’m wrong. But I think there’s an ecstatic sense of timlessness that fills the space between the mountains, fills the plains, the towns and villages scattered on the hills.
Unfortunately I cannot spend more than half an hour here. But even if I spent two hours or five days, would that really make any difference ? I wonder … So I wrap up and begin my descent. My friend Fero is just arriving at the top. Relaxed, slowly and timelessly. No, Bulgaria will never be Switzerland. And it would be a shame if it were. Good bye, Fero, take good care of the weather !
I think Bulgaria will never cease to surprise me. Even with simple things well known by everybody – like for instance the habit to shake one’s head meaning ‘yes’.
But in the end it’s still Mother Nature who is the master of all surprises. All you have to do is to be in the right place at the right time.
Although ‘timing’ may well be a meaningless term in Bulgaria.