Today, I woke up in the middle of a small, forgotten countryside Balkan village, Lada police cars and small, horse-pulled gypsy wagons are insight. It is brunch time and as I sit on the table, I find what can only be described as an endless buffet of food.
It’s the middle of the summer and I just spent about 10 days by the beautiful Bulgarian Black Sea; we are heading back to Plovdiv but before we make it there, we decided to take a small, 2 days detour.
Of course Rakia* is on the table alongside freshly picked tomatoes/cucumber salad, homemade sausage, and the traditional Bulgarian folkloric music channel (Planeta Folk) is playing in the background. We are in Sungurlare, my girlfriend’s grandfather’s house.
A self-built house many decades ago, it has collected many “treasures” throughout time, turning it into a museum of countless stories. I feel so far away from home, all I can say is добре, да and айде which is dobre, da and ajde or good, yes and let’s go… (pretty much the most important words in the Balkans given the fact that they don’t tend to say please or thank you).
Culture shock is all around me, reading a word takes me about 5 minutes, only to come up with something I have no clue about, I feel so far away from home and I love it. For sure my comfort zone has been pushed a bit further, allowing me to take in more enriching stories.
Bulgarians are extremely welcoming people, each time I come here I feel like I am at home. They are loud, they love to have a good time and they love to grill, this sounds just like Venezuela.
But it’s true, their humor is similar many times, and even their traditional dance is called “Horo” (we pronounce ours “Horopo“) seriously! although, you dance nothing like it, just check the links. Who would have thought that 2 cultures, more than 9,000 km away could have so many things in common?
It is crazy for me to be here. The last thing that I imagined 4 years ago when I left Venezuela is that I would end up having a trip like this or living the experiences that I have been able to live so far.
I find it fascinating to learn from others and discover the many ways we can live life. The farther the place is from Venezuela the better, each time I go to a new country, it’s as if a whole new world of perspectives opens to me.
I sometimes feel that we tend to create unnecessary needs or distorted perceptions of what success or happiness “is.” That is why visiting Sungurlare was so exciting because this small Bulgarian village allowed me to see the basics again.
Many are my aspirations and concerns, many are the things that I want to achieve, have, or experience. But going to Sungurlare allowed me to see that many of these goals are just a result of the constant noise around me.
When I planned my trip to Bulgaria, it was supposed to be a summer beach deal and not a self-coaching / “sharpening the saw” kind of thing (Habit 7 from the Steven Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). But this is exactly what traveling does to you.
I had a hunch that told me I must go to Europe, live there and discover myself, I followed my heart and I have never been happier. Many are the sacrifices that I and my family have had to make for this to become a reality, but we make sacrifices all the time, everywhere; what matters is how we make these sacrifices be worthy.
Don’t be afraid to follow your heart, forget the excuses, and push yourself. After 4 years in Vienna, I’ve always struggled with money but somehow I have visited 23 countries already and many of them up 4 times. If you really want something, make it a priority and set a clear deadline.
The most important thing is the mindset with which we approach situations because they have a direct effect on our choices. People ask me all the time how do I manage to travel all the time or to have the lifestyle that I have, well it is all up to you but here is how I do it.
Imagine I ask you to join me on a trip around the world, and you answer to me that you can’t because of blah blah blah. You automatically stop any creative process of making this exciting, life-changing trip happen.
But what if you answer instead “Let me see how I can make it happen” your mind will embark on an unprecedented creative process that will for sure find the solutions to any concerns stopping you from doing it.
If you wanna go far, stop being afraid of following your heart. Simply ask yourself, how can you make it happen…
If there is somebody you know who may benefit from reading this post, feel free to share it with them.
Have you ever been to Bulgaria before? I want you to go ahead and share in the comments section below what impressed you the most from this beautiful and exciting Balkan country.
Thank you, Bulgaria
*Rakia is a traditional homemade, high-grade alcohol found in the Balkan region and Turkey, which is mainly made from plums or pears. I will not explain any further because otherwise, a war can start here…