Saturday, August 04, 2012

Dolni Maryan

From July 6-26th, I was in Bulgaria. Many of the following posts will be concerned with this trip. Just look for the label "Bulgaria".

After a week of various adventures, I rode out with several other Americans to "Camp Lucky" to start as a language partner at a week long English Language camp. I was 10k outside of a small town, Elena, set in a tight valley in central Bulgaria. I was not merely outside of Elena but was outside of a tiny village named Maryan. I was actually in Dolni Maryan (Lower Maryan). This is my attempt to describe the landscape. 

You take a broken, construction marked road from Elena to Maryan. In the afternoons, the clouds of blanched crushed dust rise around the car as is bounces in and out holes. This road is around 10 kilometers in length. The mountains line the eastern view, a low ridge the west, both blue in the haze like the Catskills on the drive to my grandmother's farm.

In Maryan, a small sign points to the left. Don't cross the bridge into the town. Turn before it down the single lane, strangely well paved road. It will feel like gliding after the road from Elena. You are almost to Dolni Maryan. The ridges come in closer around the nearly dry river, that winds to the left. Fields of sunflowers stretch to the right.

Don't look at the holes in the last bridge as you come to the last stretch of road to Dolni Maryan. Just look at the water and the cows that may be wandering through it. It is deep July heat and there is almost no water. What water there is grows small minnows and green algae. Birds cry and crickets. It is the kind of dry brown that sounds like cicada cries. It is quiet instead of the cicada rattle.

The rusted sign marks the final left turn into Dolni Maryan.

The land rolls out. It is farmland. The grass is tall in the fields and there are farmers cutting it with scythes and with tractors. There are goats and sheep with bells on their necks. The sunflower field is for sale.

Sheep dogs, mutts, guard the corner past a low barn and towards the houses. For a stranger on foot, these dogs pose a noisy threat, and run along behind you. In a car, your speed will slow down and the road will rock your car like a jetty in the wake of a storm.

The houses are old style Bulgarian architecture. Wood structure, covered with newer, white plaster. The roofs are red, curved tile. Someone should tell you that these roofs will last for a hundred years if they are sitting on the right frames. The yards are walled in with old stone. There are wells in them, and farming equipment, and televisions connected to satelites, and a solar panel in the hill above the village. Fruit trees sit with their fruit with in reach. Plumbs, still green and tight; or yellow and tart and ripe, falling off onto the windshield of the now parked car.

The quiet has remained, though if you listen you can hear American pop music or a television playing through an open window.

Dolni Maryan does not seem neglected, though pieces of every structure seem slightly sagging and mortar pieces are misses and doors stand on an angle into the tangled, grape vine covered yards. Just sleepy. Just old. Just streets that Time has passed through quietly and steadily, dragging an old grass broom behind her.

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