I try not to be a tourist in Bulgaria, which means I often take Bulgaria for granted. I don’t take very many pictures, and I usually approach life with the preoccupied weariness of someone who lives here, even though my comprehension of what’s going on around me is still infantile. Like every Peace Corps trainee, sometimes I get fed up and my heart aches to spend just a few hours back in Portland, with my family and all my favorite food.
But sometimes Bulgaria floors me with her beauty. I woke up the Friday before last expecting a hot, exhausting and possibly rainy day, like every other. I would be fed mediocre, processed foods, and I would find myself without toilet paper at crucial moments. But the morning was sunny and breezy, and as impossibly lovely as a July morning in Portland, Oregon. The garden was glowing in the sunshine, and my host family was bustling around the stove.
On the table was a warm loaf of kozulnak, fresh from the abandoned bus-station-cum-bakery. Kozulnak is like brioche, with a little crunchy sugar sprinkled on top. Sometimes plum preserves are rolled into the center. The bakery specializes in middling banitza and dry, spongy white bread, and, on random Fridays, absolutely otherworldly kozulnak.
My family was thrilled at my enthusiasm over breakfast, and the weather gave all of us a nice buzz. I’m happy that I’m here.