Pazardzhik – A Reunion with Friends

During our trip to Burgas, which was covered in a previous article by Marta, we had a brief encounter with three volunteers who are settled in Pazardzhik – Loïc, Alexandre, and Roberta. Although Marta and I had never met them before, Slim shared his on-arrival training with Loïc. They ended up inviting us to visit them soon and, fast-forward one week, we got on the train from Kazanlak to Pazardzhik.

                Although the trip was quite tiring, with us having to change trains twice and walk nearly 50 minutes to their house, our energy levels quickly refilled when we had our first meal together with our friends in the center. We paved the main paths of the city and relaxed at the central fountain, checking out different buildings and monuments along the way. Surprisingly, it reminded me of a few cities in my country, in particular Faro in the south of Portugal. It’s a very charming city and, of course, being with friends makes everything better.

                Deyv, a Bulgarian who’s doing mentor work and previously volunteered through EVS in Spain, also joined us during the afternoon and together we went to check out the local Zoo park. While the park had some very interesting attractions such as crazy mirrors and a beautiful lake, the sad state of the animals left a knot in my stomach and I wish there will be some changes to their living conditions one day in the future. Given that I’m not a big fan of Zoo culture in general, I won’t pronounce myself too much. It was the last day of Slim’s Ramadan fasting! We got to eat together and finish the night with a few drinks, board games, and surprisingly deep philosophical conversation at home.

                While originally we were planning on returning on Sunday noon, we learned that Monday would be a holiday, so we decided to stay one extra night. What a pleasant surprise! On Sunday, after checking out the mosque and a few churched in Pazardzhik, we went on a quick escapade to Plovdiv with Alexandre and Roberta, enjoyed its cultural feel, street music, ruins, and gorgeous architecture before coming back to Pazardzhik to have dinner together – a mix of Arabic and Italian food. A bit too spicy, but we enjoyed it either way! Everyone was so tired that the night ended with a short session of Use Your Words, a fun word game.  The one by one, we quickly went to bed.

                Although Monday should have been a very straightforward return back home, it was quite the adventure! Due to miscommunication with staff from the train station in Plovdiv, we misjudged which train would take us back home and ended up missing it. We had to buy new tickets (not a big deal!) and spend perhaps 4 extra hours traveling than we should have. While it might sound like an inconvenience, thanks to it we ended up discovering the rural town of Tulovo and also make a new friend on the train, a young student girl whose father writes about Portugal and Spain! Maybe it’s destiny, or maybe just Bulgarian magic.

Ruben Pais

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