Lisa powered us by SaraLara and Foaly in the cart from Osikovo to the festival site for the final few days of set-up. Traveling by horse and cart is officially an extreme sport ya know, and Lisa once was an amateur rally driver... Their farm at Osikovo sits at the top of a near-vertical, rocky, dusty, pot-holed track. The van always stays parked at the bottom. One evening, Gracey, Nick and I had been sitting in the front seats with Lisa at the wheel. Lisa decided it would definitely be better if the van was up there outside the house, so that we could load it up with festival stuff... Reversing a few metres to get some speed she foot-slammed the accelerator, we flew at the track, bouncing and clattering to a metre from the top when Gracey squeezed her nails into my arm, the engine roared and in a dust cloud we started sliding backwards... Before we backwards flipped to our death, Lisa pulled the handbreak and reversed us back down where we laughed and made to climb out, clearly Mr Van wasn't capable of making it to the top. Before we could get the door handle we were flying again, jabbing our seatbelts back on as fast as we could. Three tries later we had made enough speed to climb over the brink where we found Ewen and Zoe grinning. Laughing at our white faces, Lisa assured us "ONLY PANIC WHEN I PANIC."

The final 2 weeks of our Bulgarian venture was spent camping in a valley outside of the village of Voditsa, volunteering for the set up of the first year of LunaDolina Festival.
Organised by a small group of British, Belgians, and Bulgarians living in Voditsa and surrounding villages, and part of the helpX scheme, work exchanged for food + accommodation (+ a cold beer after work).

Nick, Gracey, Ewen, Lisa and I piled into the van, picking up Kathy from her house in Voditsa + her daughter Elly who lives opposite her (both ex-Newcastle) + her partner Dancho (Bulgarian) + Raul (French) on the way. Raul cycled from France, with a tent and an accordion, it took him 2 months. He hates his bike and wants nothing more to do with it. On the last few metres of his journey he found a puppy, a week or so old with maggots in it's feet and covered in sores. Eyes closed, barely responding, but alive. Lunan we called him, after Lunadolina. And began mission cure the puppy.

Smooth hitch back to Varna (BapHa) where we found the train station and began another uneducated attempt to translate some town/city sense into the Cyrillic alphabet timetables. We reckoned we'd bought two tickets to Popovo (Попово) so found a cafe to sit in for the next hour.
     As we were about to leave to find the train, a man on a nearby table signaled to us that he'd like to buy us two drinks. We smiled and politely shook our heads, we had to go and were too tired for attempted Bulgarian conversation.. His excited expression didn't diminish and a few minutes later two cherry drinks + straws arrived at our table. He grinned and pulled us out 2 chairs next to him. Awkwardly we stood up and started heaving on our bags to leave, not really sure what to do about those drinks... Making stupid train-like movements with our arms, we poured the drinks into a plastic bottle and left him looking pretty frickin disgruntled.
As we walked away we remembered, in Bulgaria, shaking your head means YES and nodding means NO. Ah fuck.

     The train walkway was half the width of me + our bag so Grace pushed me to our shared carriage with sliding doors like Augustus Gloop in the chocolate pipe, where we threw our smelly, dusty bags onto the rack over the heads of our companions. We had been warned to BE ALERT, the train will only stop at each station for 30 seconds. Cleverly we had no idea whether the journey would be 2 hours or 5, and as the train set off we noticed the growing trend of lack of station names at the stops. How would we know when we were nearing Popovo and how would we get our bags down in time without crushing anyone and how would we squeeze outta the train... in 30 seconds... Within minutes we could (we decided inexplicably) barely keep our eyes open, Roofies in the cherry drinks crossed our minds... There was no Roofies in the cherry drinks of course, but we ate a carrier bag of fruit and kicked each other in the shins for 2 hours. BE ALERT.


 Sunset arrival in Varna on the Black Sea Coast. Really not negotiating the Cyrillic alphabet via our way into town, we somehow found our campsite, set up a tent for the night and explained our plans to hitch-hike down the coast. We were headed in search of the few remaining beaches that had escaped tourist development, 'wild' beaches where we'd heard people travel from around Bulgaria to camp for the summer, protesting against potential hotel concrete. We shared tattered maps marked with biro dots and a few scribbled names along remote sections of the coastline, deciding that our first stop would be Karadere, 2 hours South.

Get a message when we do another one!

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