Wednesday, October 10, 2012

추석 Traveling: Правец & Ботевград (Pravets & Botevgrad)

Sunday morning brought with it the prospect of traveling a ways away for church.  Luckily, the service was later, so I had the opportunity to attempt to catch up on sleep.  I've never been one to get hit hard by jet-lag my first day back in a place.  I usually feel it at night, anyway, but I mostly attribute that to my preference for late night flights, meaning that I don't get very much sleep.  For some reason, I'd rather get only one or two hours of sleep than have to wake up even an hour early.  Maybe that will change in time.  Any way that you look at it, though, my bleary mind was quite content to attempt to sleep all day.  Thankfully, Alex was of the mind to not even entertain that idea, and I wasn't going to ask it of her, since I knew I would regret it if I didn't get out and see the country I was visiting.

Zhana, Alex's boss, stopped by in the morning to warn us against going to church.  Apparently, there was a sinus-infection-inducing cold and the flu going around in the community, and, since my defenses were down (being in a new country, jet-lagged, and all), her doctor had recommended that I didn't go to church.  I was touched.  This woman had talked to her doctor about me!  She didn't know me from Eve, yet she had prepared in advance to make sure that I would be able to stay healthy, rather than just advising me to "be careful for my health," as to which I've grown accustomed here. (Don't get me wrong, I appreciate that the people in Korea warn me against situations that I might not have thought to take precaution, but it's amazing to have someone actually help with it.)  So, instead of church, Alex and I wandered around Правец and its neighboring town Ботевград.

Ботевград was pretty, and reminded me a lot of most college towns that I've seen.  It's the kind of place that feels somewhat large, but you also get the sense that everyone knows everyone.  Meanwhile, the whole area is shrouded in a type of 1960's communistic architecture.  Since Правец is still locally communistic, this rather makes sense.  (Mind-blowing, I know.)  However, my photography doesn't really reflect this feeling, because I like to take photos of pretty things, and I didn't find most of the architecture all that pretty... So, take my representation with a grain of salt.

Ботевград town square 
I was fascinated with the straight-metal swings, rather than chained ones.  Plus, the children on them made the place look so homey.

Alex needed an ATM, and I liked how the signs didn't clash with nature too much.

I'm not normally one for roses, but the obscure coloring more than makes up for it.

Waiting at the bus stop.

Our late-night wanderings through Правец ran us into a man who remembered Правец before it was Правец.  He was out on a stroll with his cow, Gala.  Immediately, I took a liking to this man.  Really?  On a walk with your cow, you say?  Yes, I can tell that I'll like you already.  As Alex and her friend Yony admired, Gala, I came up next to the man and said, in my rather sarcastic way, "Nice cow," assuming he couldn't understand me and would ignore me, like I'm used to here in Korea.  Not so much, though.  He started talking to me in German, which I understood some of, but, eventually, Yony stepped in and translated.  She was incredibly uncomfortable, but I was in Seventh Heaven.  His history lesson was fascinating, although I don't remember much of it.  He did say, however, that he though Bulgarian men would me more likely to marry if the women looked more like Alex and myself. Scarlet faced, we thanked him and wrapped the conversation up.  Yony really didn't like translating such comments for us.
I think when I grow up, I'd like a pet cow to take for walks, so I'd have an excuse to make young people incredibly uncomfortable with my ramblings.

I hope my lack of words doesn't belittle my conviction of how important this event was for my trip.  I think it put me in the right frame of mind for the rest of the days that followed - simple; beautiful; and, overall, loving.

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