Bulgaria. A country with beautiful mountains, fertile fields, dusty roads and old Soviet-era apartment bloks. Ancient ruins, tired cities, intricate music and folk dances. Scattered remnants of the old industry struggle for survival, glimmers of hope among rusty abandoned factories. School hallways ring with the laughter and shrieks of bright-eyed, eager children, and young people go to discos and wear fashionable clothes, drinking coffee and discussing ideas in sidewalk cafés for hours.
Bruce McDonald and his wife Stormy worked in Bulgaria as Peace Corps Volunteers, and fell in love with it all. They tell of meeting people who loved their country and its proud heritage, people who knew how to live very well with very little. The hardy and resilient way of life came down through the centuries from the warlike Slavs who swept in from the north and east, pushing aside the powerful Thracians and the Romans and the Greeks. Then there was the civilizing influence of literature and learning brought by holy monks. Five hundred years "Under the Turkish Yoke" were ended by Heroes of the Revolution, reverently remembered.
In modern times, tumult, change. Entrepreneurs in a newly free society with apples and cabbages for sale at a table by the sidewalk. Democracy too, with whatever that will bring. Determination and hard work define what is needed in everyday life.
The volunteers' own story had a turn of events too, one that took determination and hard work to overcome. The heroes of this story are many, and courage is proved in adversity.
What a read!
Beautiful portrayal of a land and culture ripe with differences from America so stark it leaves the reader in continual wonderment. At the same time, many common threads are made visible that touch on all aspects of the human experience. This account spans less than two years yet touches on details and relationships, cultural and personal, that are timeless. Whether one is considering a venture to this part of the globe in body or mind, A Breeze in Bulgaria will pave the way.