Our solo traveler is melting his way south across Bulgaria, boy howdy folks the heat has been turned up along with its cousin humidity. Bonked badly 3 days ago, riding a geniune rural Bulgrian road with little to no food available at those little markets. I even hit two small villages without so much as a bad market. BONKING is when you have depleted your bodies stores of available energy. And I was totally empty just half way up a huge bald hill free of any respite from the scorching sun.
I have been here before and knew I was in trouble. Now is not the time to bow yer neck and “cowboy up` as we are inclined to think. Proped my bike up with a stick, sat in what shade it gave. Poured water over my computer system….(head) one thing good I was well suited with water. Sat right there in the middle of my lane on the road. Only problem was, I had goten lax about keeping my food supplies up as i should. The second car that came by gave me and apple, and that was all i had at that point. 2 hours went by, I began to feel the apples energy coursing thru my viens. Its really amazing to watch an elite athlete come up out of a BONK. The leg and arm viens swell, the normally ample torso muscles that have gone flacid (yes, arms and legs do that as well ) become full and taunt…..the athelete is like a race horse being held back till the best poll position….anxious and bouncing in anticipation. BUT, that weren,t me folks. I had taken on a crepe shape and almost the same stiffness.
Made every effort to stand……those leg things had left on holidays. Had heck holding the bike upright, and even more trouble throwing a leg over. Had to cheek that sucker round and mount in a manly way…..till we all fell over. While on the ground and semi flat, I thought it a good time to check the map and distance to next village. Only 6km, i knew I could make it and revive, plus is looked like just one more ridge to climb over till I arrived.
Made it, many of these little towns have a town water spring, fresh cool and so far has always been very good to drink. Stripped far enough that the town folks thought Miley had arrived……….10 seconds under the running water and your head was purple it was so cold. Washed my legs, my arms, rolled around and around playing with that beach ball while the seals avoided the pool. Thouroughly cooled now, and actually pretty clean I headed into the village a little deeper to see what food I could find. BEER, was everywhere in all 2 cold cases. I did find a couple tomatoes, a piece of dried meat in the meat case…..born on date had been surgically removed by the looks of it……not that it would matter much. I was going to eat it no matter how much mold was needing to be scraped off. No bread at all, not even a stale bun. No noodles, no place so far….Bulgaria is officially noodle free. There where tins of what looked like tuna or mackeral but I had ditched my can opener trying to rid excess wieght.
I rode to the very top of the next ridge past this village and set my tent up in the best shade I could find from a relentless setting sun. Poochy maggie, she was a hot one. Too hot to lay in the tent naked, so I sat outside naked. I no longer cared what sort of papparazzi may be around. About 9.15pm I rolled into the tent and slept on top all night.
Ever seen a kid walking thru the monkey exhibit at the zoo, minding his own business, only to get his ice cream cone ripped out of his hands before he even knew what hit them. Thats the story which I am about to tell you, but it was a melon farming gypsy not a monkey. I had been wearing a very bright colored COOL HORSE ball cap that my niece Kip gave to me. It was like a magnet as soon as I walked into this bar.p, this gypsy farmer took note of the hat instantly.
My intention was to fi d something cold to drink, which I did. Sit and enjoy the shade for a wee bit then move on. Dora, the bartwnder spoke pretty good english and began asking me questions, to which I would aswer and she would translate for the 4 drinkers our among the tables. The guy who was on his 6th can of beer wanted to know why I wore a hat with a horse on it. So, I explained and showed Dora some pics in my phone of what I do back home. The drunk melon grower then says “jiss a min” and dissappears out the door. A few minutes later he comes back in with a tiny round melon. He then tells dora I shoukd take thier picture…….so, I get it all set up and chairs turned etc to get a pic. I set the timer and sprint for my chair, in that few seconds it takes to sit, the melon guy swaps out hats with me….and I go along thinking it was just for the photo. I take a series of 3 images, then pack my camera back up. The melon guy comes over to me and hands me the melon……like I want to carry a melon around with me. He points to my hat on his head and says MINE.
So my Cool Horse hat now lives in northern Bulgaria and worn by a drunk melon farmer. I however have the drunks hat which says Bulgaria on it. The first 3 days I had his hat, it had the hiccups. Twice now, I have walked into one of those small markets/bars and the hat orders a beer for itself without even asking me. Its taken a little getting used to in the heat, not as cool as my mesh ball cap.
Veliko Tarnovo said Daniel Roose or Austria, its a town you should consider Jeremiah. So, thats where ai am now. The town is built on the jagged cliff edges. Its known as the home of the tsars, because 4 different tzars have resided here if I ave my history strait. It is picturesque for sure, with cobble streets, and castle walls and huge old cathedrals. Fine place to make a stop. My problem is it ended up being 3 days. Meant to leave after the first day, but caught some sort of bug and have spent the last 3 days recovering. Plus this is the home of a very fine engraver, Anton Maranov. I got to have supper with Anton and his wife Bobby, along with Marion our translator and his wife Daniella. A fine meal, up in the hills at Arbanazzi.
So tomorrow will see me on the road once again, and as is so usual, you cant wait to stop and rest, but then the next day you are anxious to get back on the bike and pedal. I have 2 major mountain ranges to cross befor I get into Turkey and my final destination of Istanbul. It had always been my intent to have my wife come join me in Istanbul, feeling guilty since I am not sure we can make that happen now with other commitments elsewhere. We shall see, we shall Pray.
From what I have been told, I should expect several hills in the 20 plus percent grades……thats sure exciting to know………NOT. This is how I rationalize the hills at this point, I know from running the maps that Istanbul is only 247 miles away at this stage from right where I sit in Veliko Tarnovo. I can live with that, its a weeks worth of cycling even if I go easy.