Bulgaria: 9th to 19th September, Week 2 festival set-up


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."

Back at the site, a 30x15ft rainbow cloth needed to be put up, a canopy with a central post and ropes along the cloth edges attached to wooden steaks, hammered into the ground. It needed 8 people to control it and stop it blowing off into the valley, rips in it were painstakingly repaired with needle and thread, torn, repaired again, the post was painted pastel stripes, wooden steaks were hammered into the ground, and moved and hammered and adjusted and hammered, it billowed in the wind as we held it in place and we all winced at the sound of it ripping on thistles in the grass, we lost pound-of-butter-sized Lunan somewhere underneath... After 10+ trial attempts to put it up, it finally got attached to it's pole and fastened into the earth.

Lunan got better, we bathed him in salt and tea tree oil in a wheel barrow, squeezed the maggots from his toes and pus from his sores. He marched around the festival site, ears pricked, tail wagging, barking, biting peoples toes, eating and eating... We found him one evening in the staff kitchen, lying on his back, catatonic, crying, stomach the size of a football.

I wove a cave out of willow, climbing to the top of old trees to collect thin stems of new growth, axe wedged under arm. Fell out of willow trees with axe wedged under arm. Last minute organised chaos, Thursday evening before festival Friday. The missing parachute cloth appeared at 5:30pm, which meant digging one more deep, narrow hole in hard, rocky ground, for it's central post (the look on Nick's face..) and scrambling up hawthorne trees to attach the ropes. A huge stripey jellyfish.

Friday morning we woke up to discover the wind, that apparently never blows in Bulgaria, had torn the rainbow cloth from the ground and it danced around wildly, hanging on by 2 pegs. It spent the festival twisted up and bound like a naughty maypole. Friday night there was wind + rain. Claire was site-manager and signed-off all the working volunteers, declaring that she'd probably get sacked in the morning but she wasn't gunna be part of no fascist festival. Realising that the stage was a dry place, she marched everybody in the crowd to dance on stage while Bram played his set. Saturday morning, the previously purple painted stage had a 5 inch thick mud carpet.

Yoga under the trees, blind archery, meditation, drum circles, taught to do a Thai foot massage on Nick's goaty, 6-week unwashed feet. Nick did a brilliant Feast of Fools slapstick sketch. Learnt about seed-swapping and soap making. We watched Samsara and Jungle Book in the cinema in the trees. The village pensioners came to sing, we painted their faces and they taught us the steps to dance the Horo.

Played the cardboard box game with the 90 year old bee-keeper. Nick and I had an intense experience with a beautiful, multi-coloured woodpecker, there were breathing trees, we were chased through the forest by someone who was frighteningly mentally-unstable. Psychedelic hilarity peaking with Nick getting confused and accidentally rubbing cow shit all over his face, plunging his head into the trough, slurping water like a beast.

We had a dazed, post-festival staff after party in the forest, drumming, a violin, a bbq, showing each other our most freaky body parts. Emotional goodnights. The 'who's going to give Lunan a home' dilemma was solved, Gracey and I didn't have to bribe the vets to forge his injection dates so that we could pay lots of Euros and order him a last minute passport and fly him back to Wales in our hand luggage, to present to Mum and Dad as their lovely new addition to the 4 dog, 4 cat, duck, chicken zoo to take with them to Portugal... Instead he got a happy home with a Belgian couple who snuck him back to Belgium in their van.

Tuesday morning we packed up and Lisa rode us to to the main road by horse and cart, it was tearful, and then she was gone into the distance. Standing road-side, we looked at each other as it became apparent that our chances of a lift would be unlikely, we were on a main road with nowhere for cars to pull-over, lorries whizzed past at 60mph blowing us into the bushes. We began walking in the direction of the next village, even if we didn't get a lift for the whole day we could pitch our tents and camp in a field, but the road-side path soon became overgrown with brambles, metres thick. We walked back to where we began...

Then a Hummer pulled over, and we got a ride to Sofia listening to Elvis. Haha.
The driver was a Turkish someone who knew all the police and the hotel owners and the owner of the petrol station and the owner of the cafe. He said very little to us, other than that he'd been up all night taking cocaine in a club and was likely to fall asleep.

A few days in Sofia, felt like we were in Enter the Void.

Overwhelming us with self-less generosity.
So much laughter that Nick got salt-burn under his eyes.
For teaching us that wood ash from the fire cleans dirt and oil and burnt food from pots better than any Fairy Liquid.


Karadere, Osikovo & Popovo, and LunaDolina festival http://www.flickr.com/photos/41086222@N02/sets/


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