Гара Бов, България
Gara Bov, Bulgaria
January 11th 2023
North of Sofia, the Iskar tributary etches a 84km long gorge into the Bulgarian hills, rushing away North to meet the river Danube on the border with Romania. One of many villages situated along this billowing track is Gara Bov, a non-descript settlement of about 300 permanent residents that, by virtue of a serendipitous meeting and kind offer, I have made home for my last days in the Balkans.
My host is Magda, a Polish woman who escaped the hustle of the modern world by buying and renovating a rural village house, as well as rescuing four cats and three dogs along the way. Her path is one that I am interested in emulating in the not-so-distant future, adapted to my own particular flavour.
For now though, I would like to introduce the chaotic elements of my stay.
The calmest of the cats, affectionate but not overstepping. Different coloured eyes, though one is probably blind. Meows like the sounds of laser guns. Probably my favourite.
Similarly affectionate, though does not want to admit it. Learns slowly to not push her luck, but more often than not quickly forgets the rules and must be placed outside. Very snooty. Couldn't give the slightest care about being rocked and dragged while I reposition myself in bed at night. Abandoned as a kitten in Magda's garden.
Here comes trouble. The cat equivalent of a bunny, with the bouncing energy. Absolutely does not understand the concept of boundaries. I lift my head from the pillow to grab my phone and when I put it back she is already on the pillow. Must be kept outside while cooking. Found with Bialka by the side of the road.
The final cat is, sadly, too shy to have its photograph taken. But she is a perfect black streak, dark as the night.
Next, the three dogs, as different from each other as possible. One keeps far away, one stays at arm's length but anxiously barks, and the last doesn't seem to recognise personal space. Can you tell which is which?