A Return to the Roots

In the end of October I was on autumn vacation in Bulgaria. As summer is usually the preferred time for travelling because of the tempting beaches and scorching sun, I have forgotten what autumn was like in Bulgaria.

We went for a short trip in North-Central Bulgaria with my sister, my mum and her colleagues.

I love those trips with family as they make me feel child again and that’s such a precious feeling.

It was a multi-stop trip and although in general there was a set route, there was still some flexibility to add extra stops as we went.

We listened to Bulgarian songs on our way and

I got that warm feeling of treasuring everything native,

looking out of the window to the changing scenery, yellow, orange, flaming red and here and there a little bit of green, merging into one another to give the viewer the sensation of divine presence and quiet dominance of nature.

Our first stop was the Museum of the Rose – Bulgaria is one of the top producers of rose oil of rosa damascena, which is widely used in French perfumery.

Our next stop was the Architectural-Ethnographic complex The Etar, which is an open-air museum and home of the best exposition of crafts from the past.

From the pleasant smell of freshly baked pastries and sausages, through the walk along the river in the bright autumn sun, to exploring the crafts our forefathers used to make a living from, I was transferred into another world.

There were pictures of men working on the field from dawn till dusk to provide for their families, of women baking bread, cooking simple dishes, sewing and knitting clothes, weaving carpets and table cloths, bringing water from the stream – providing for the family with their feminine skills. Alongside all the heavy work, our ancestors used to bring up a generation of many children, sometimes up to 6-7 children or more and they had the moral obligation to teach them all the timeless values such as honesty, bravery, hard work, strong will, respect for the family and for the elderly people and many more.

My grandparents used to have a lifestyle of hard work and unshakeable moral values,

much similar to the one depicted from the more distant past. However, only two generations later, life seems so utterly different that I couldn’t help but think – how I would be able to explain to my children and their children what a world without computers, wi-fi, smart phones and television looked like – not to mention facilities that make our life so easy and comfortable that we completely take for granted, such as supply of fresh water, hot water, heating, toilet and shower facilities.

It makes me contemplate on gratitude and how blessed we are to have everything we have today.

It also stirs my emotions and I get a tiny bit sad for the past times, for the simplicity and slow pace of life, natural food, respect of marriage and the focus on not how much you can get but how much you can give.

We visited three astonishing caves, each one impressive in its own way, discovered cascading waterfalls via trekking along hidden eco paths, prayed in several monasteries perched on top of hills with outstanding views and ancient icons, where the air was filled with the bitter-sweet memories of a painful historical past.

It’s funny how many years I lived in my homeland and thought I knew it well.

Now every time I come back from England I realise there is a whole new universe of unseen beauty I need to explore.

It’s so true when people say that when something is in front of your eyes, occasionally you stop seeing it.

Being away from home made me see many forgotten treasures of our nature, lifestyle and national mentality that make me very proud.

This trip reminded me how much I love my country. I also felt that no matter where I am and what I do, I will always be a proud Bulgarian, deeply valuing our historical past, natural beauties, delicious food and the warm, hospitable people, who despite all of their worries and burdens, are still my best friends and some of the purest people by heart I have ever met.

Please share one thing that makes you feel proud of where you come from and what you would never change.

2 responses to “A Return to the Roots”

  1. Cristiana says:

    This article is amazing! I love the way you present your country and the passion you have for what this means to you. I’ve been to Bulgaria twice and I enjoyed it so much! I agree that it’s a lot to discover and there is so much beauty hidden in that part of the world. My homecountry is neighbouring Bulgaria and I am proud of it too. I will always go back to Romania for its breathtaking mountain views, medieval cities and castles, rivers and sea and always my family!:)

    • Maria Toneva says:

      Thank you for the appreciation and the kind words 🙂 I’m glad you had a nice time and memories to treasure from your visit to Bulgaria. I think there’s a lot for us to be proud of and I agree your country is fantastic!

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