Part 2. Eugene & Monica, Bulgaria.
I shuffled past the various cars and trucks who sat attentively in an orderly fashion at the first border patrol, leaving Romania. The road stretched on for a good while with nothing but green grass and the base of a cemented broken road barrier surrounded by the broken segments of its former upper layer. Wild masses of green bush overflowed and the painted road lines had faded to such an extent it was difficult to tell if they were lines at all. At the end of the road there was a sharp turn where the Bulgarian border patrol lay, rendering it invisible from my current view. I found myself in No Man’s Land. Up until now it was obviously easy to be alone on my journey but now I never had a location to comfort me. I couldn’t say logistically ‘I’m in Romania’ or ‘I’m in Bulgaria’. The history of human behaviour will tell you that not having an answer is enough to turn someones life upside down. We crave answers, thirst for knowledge and push ourselves to unthinkable limits for a whiff of understanding. It’s an absurd assurance like this that calms an anxious mind in unsettling moments and keeps the flightful brain from derailing hopeful ambitions. And yet here I was.. free from security. Utterly bereft of my psychological safety net. Except for the Sertraline which often robs me of my own pride in portraying any glory and ridicules me whenever I begin to believe in myself. Considering the circumstances I’ll give myself this one. The road gave me this one.
I sat for a while at an inning in the wall, protected from sunlight by the adventurous shrubbery. This travelling business had really hit me. Emotions ran high frequently. It’s such a fucking buzz. And the adrenaline of pilgramming in these far and distant lands implored me to bask in my awestruck incandescence and lay my spinning head down on my bag for a short time.
‘I’ve come a long way from Clydebank.’
And it’s true. Looking at a globe I could’ve gone much, much further. To the Western shores of the USA, or the most Eastern point of the Asian
‘In time. Be Patient.’
Some time had passed and I lifted myself to carry on my merry way into Bulgaria. I stuck the thumb out and a car stopped almost immediately after. Surely hitch-hiking isn’t always this easy? It was a classy Audi brief, real expensive gear. The Romanian couple inside who I came to now as Eugene and Monica were my new guides into another world unknown. I was shitting myself at first in fairness. Aggressive tones, reluctant to crack a smile and despite picking me up they seemed to be stressed out their box. I told them of my plans and they reacted with bemusement.
”Why do you want to travel alone in these countries?”
For the kick I guess. Monica explained that her work took her all across the region and avoiding Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania would be more than wise. These countries were poor and I knew of the risk but I did not feel it would be as bad as what they were telling me then. I believed in trust, and aswell good people. But they spoke positively only of where we just came from, Romania. Everything in Romania is the best in Europe allegedly. The culture, the food, the people. Cluj Napoca has the best nightlife in the world. The women of Romania are the most beautiful you will ever see. I admired their pride. It was quite similar to Mihail. They were driving straight through Bulgaria and onto Thessaloniki in Greece. Very kindly they offered to drop me off in Petric at the Bulgarian/ Greek border. From there I could go straight to Macedonia. This was never my intention but I could sense a great distaste for Bulgaria and so I pondered my options.
We spoke about Romanian history, Dracula and football. A couple of times we stopped at petrol stations and Eugene even bought me some food and beer. ‘Romanian hospitality’ he called it. We even took selfies and sent them to his friend. Monica was driving, and like a maniac too. Dodging and weaving through traffic and overtaking when she had no right. I didn’t think I would see another day. After a while we had already passed Veliko Tarnovo and on the way I decided to get out at Sofia.
They dropped me at a station just outside the city. Bucharest to Sofia in no less than 6 hours. My intention that morning was to simply cross the border and camp at a river just over the way. I had surpassed that and then some. Spent 0 on expenses, and some memories to boot. Eugene and Monica didn’t believe my decision was the right one to make but I knew that my perspective from the outside would allow me to feel differently on matters like this. The sun shone brightly as if to say I wouldn’t be disappointed. So I grabbed my bag, said my farewell’s and wandered on down the side of the Bulgarian motorway with the city of Sofia clear in my sights..