Smochevo, Bulgaria

During the week, I live and work in Sofia, Bulgaria. On the weekends, my family and I retire to Smochevo, a small village in the Rila valley. I know the village is bigger than the street I live on, but I doubt I’ll bother exploring it all. My house is near the top of the street; my in-laws living half-way down the hill. It only takes a couple minutes to get from one to the other, depending on home many sheep droppings are in the way, so I see no reason to wander far afield.

According to my wife, the village use to have more people living in it. There used to be 2,000 families, but 9 in 10 homes stand empty. This is a common tail in the villages of Bulgaria. The young moved to the big cities after the fall of the communist regime, with the best and brightest going to The West. I saw it ten years ago, when I was up north – whole villages with nothing but old women and goats.

But back to my little home, in my adopted hometown. Our house has electricity, but not for heating. We use this stove for that. If you look to the left side of the stove, you’ll see two grey pipes. These circulate water through a cavity along the walls of the stove, heating the water and pumping in through the radiators scattered throughout the house. It works fine, as long as you constantly feed the fire. This means I have to get up multiple times each night, or sleep in the cold. I generally choose the latter.

The house we now live in is not the one that stood here when we bought the place. The old structure was almost a barn. You can see the old beams in this picture.

We saved the beams and one of the old outside walls, but destroyed the rest and rebuilt it from scratch. Everything is stained wood, save the stucco ceiling. Of course, the actual walls are brick with cement, but who wants to look at that!?!

I’ve yet to walk the whole plot our house sits on. I think it’s a decare, but I’m not sure. My sister-in-law handled the purchase. I do know that, just beyond the vine-covered yard, there is a small plot of land where an old woman keeps a garden – and it’s right in the middle of our plot. I really don’t mind her farming her land, but it’s funny to think that she owns a postage stamp within my larger plot. I’m thinking about buying it from her, or trading her for a portion of our land that’s closer to her house.

The mountains are beautiful this time of year. It’s very cold outside, though not as cold as New York in the 80’s. But that crisp air is refreshing. I’ve started waking up and taking a long walk every morning. The exercise is good, and the solitude allows me to think. If only I could dictate my thoughts…

I’ve been trying to upload a video of the view from our porch, looking off toward the Rila Mountains. I can’t seem to get it to work, though. Can anyone help out? If so, I’ll edit this post with the video…

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