|Excuse me, coming through.|
Driving in Bulgaria is a life-affirming experience: that is, you’re always thankful to make it out of the car alive. They drive fast and overtaking is common. There are, to add to the fun, horse and carts sharing the road. There are potholes the size of wardrobes.
To get to our village you drive along a stretch of road that is particularly bad with big, deep, square-cut holes everywhere. Our agent tells us the authorities must be getting ready to fill in the holes if they have squared them off. Rob jokes maybe they just like their holes neat! For now though, you weave your way along, frequently driving in the opposite lane to avoid the real humdingers. Thankfully, in this region, there are actually very few cars on the road so meandering across lanes is no problem at all.
Otherwise, the roads are pretty fun in this region: country lanes winding their way up, down and between mountains. There are no discernable speed limits that people adhere to. You will often see signs stating ‘50’ or ‘80’ but these are usually right next to each other, making it difficult to know which one to believe! No matter, as people tend to drive at an even 80-100km per hour anyway. I get overtaken a lot. You will almost never see a traffic cop out here in the sticks.
As well as sharing the road with horses, there is the occasional goat herd to content with. In the village of Maluk Izvor, where we are staying, a goat herd wanders through twice a day. We get stuck behind it a few times, both morning and late afternoon. The goats are pretty used to cars though and you can edge your way through okay. The shepherd hits them with a big stick if they don’t get out of the way fast enough.
An aside on goats, if you will indulge me:
In Maluk Izvor, the villagers send their goats off with the shepherd in the morning for a day of grazing on the mountain. If you do not do this, they will eat your entire garden. So, you send your goat – let’s call him Gary – off down to the main village street in the morning where the shepherd picks them all up. They then have a hard day’s grazing up the mountain (or Goat School as Rob and I like to call it). Then, at the end of the day, the shepherd brings them all back and sends the goats off to their various homes. Then, we’re told, if you’re not home at the time, Gary the goat will wait for you at the garden gate for you to let him in. I kid you not!