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Donkeys to Roses: Connecting with the Land and People

By Evelyn WeliverUseful little donkeys, wildflowers beneath olive orchards, roses at the end of vineyard rows, these are snapped through the bus or car window with our cameras set to “action” or “sport” mode.  The picture quality is not always sharp, but it helps capture the flavor of what we see.  Other images remain in our mind’s eye, influencing our total picture of the country.

At the end of the day we pass a man walking home with his donkey loaded with sticks for the fire that heats his home. (Please click on the pictures to enlarge them.)

Donkey and man going home, Bulgaria

Donkey and man going home, Bulgaria. Photo by Del Weliver

In the small fields of Bulgaria there are horse-drawn hay wagons and wagons being loaded with wood, while in the mountains men are logging.

Waiting near the woods, Bulgaria

Waiting near the woods, Bulgaria. Photo by Evelyn Weliver

Logging in Bulgaria

Logging in Bulgaria. Photo by Del Weliver

A shepherd moves a flock of sheep outside a Bulgarian village nestled against a mountain.

Village and sheep, Bulgaria

Village and sheep, Bulgaria. Photo by Del Weliver

Roadside stands are filled with jars of honey and jams that glow as the sun shines through them. We stop to buy a jar of homemade, wild blueberry jam filled with tiny berries. Later we eat it on chunks of crusty bread, alternating with bites of cheese and fresh, crisp apples.

This family of Greek women runs a small restaurant, unorganized and charming, near the Royal Tombs of Vergina. Our lunch of salad, bread, sausages and vegetables was relaxed and delicious. As we ate outside, a procession of men and women in dark clothing walked down the middle of the street. They were going to a policeman’s funeral and were led by a uniformed policeman carrying a folded Greek flag.

Here I have my picture taken with the family.

Here I have my picture taken with the family.

Just over the border of Bulgaria and Turkey we stop to take pictures before crossing this centuries old bridge into Edirne, the capital before Constantinople.

Bridge at Edirne, Turkey

Bridge at Edirne, Turkey. Photo by Evelyn Weliver

Old men sit at outside tables in Turkish towns, smoking, talking.  No women.  We zip past.

Black and white appears on both cows and a small town mosque.

Cows and a mosque in Turkey

Cows and a mosque in Turkey. Photo by Evelyn Weliver

Roses, I seem to have pictures of roses from everywhere.

Roses in Turkey

Roses in Turkey. Photo by Evelyn Weliver

Bulgarian Rose

Bulgarian Rose. Photo by Evelyn Weliver

By traveling a country’s roads we connect with the land and its people at work, much more than if we flew from city to city. Yes, it takes some time, but it adds so much to our journeys and our understanding of where we are. We like to start in a large city and visit a good archaeological or history museum. Then we branch out to various historic and cultural sites, traveling through the countryside. Beside lakes and seas, past fields, stopping for views over the mountains and sometimes hearing cuckoo birds calling, eating at local, non-fancy, roadside restaurants, this is how we travel whether on our own or with our small group of travelers.

The open road lures us onward.

The open road, Bulgaria

The open road, Bulgaria. Photo by Evelyn Weliver

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