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Retreat on the River Iskar

Гара Бов, България

Gara Bov, Bulgaria

January 11th 2023

Landscape photography of Gara Bov Mountains, Bulgaria

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.

Black and white landscape photography of mountain rock face near Gara Bov, Bulgaria

Street photography of two goats walking on train tracks in Gara Bov, Bulgaria

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.

Bialka ("white")

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.

Animal photograph of white rescued cat in Gara Bov, Bulgaria

Black and white photograph of yawning white cat in Gara Bov, Bulgaria

Selfie of white cat with different coloured eyes in Gara Bov, Bulgaria

Mucha ("housefly")

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.

Street photography of stretching cat in Gara Bov, Bulgaria

Animal portrait photograph of rescued brown cat looking through window at camera in Gara Bov, Bulgaria

Phone photograph of cats sleeping on bed with person in Gara Bov, Bulgaria

Myszka ("mouse")

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.

Funny animal photograph of white cat standing up on hind legs on window in Gara Bov, Bulgaria

Animal portrait photograph of white and brown rescued cat lying in sun in Gara Bov, Bulgaria

A black and brown cat walks into kitchen sink and licks lips in Gara Bov, Bulgaria

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?

Long exposure ICM photograph of running dogs in Gara Bov, Bulgaria

Portrait photograph of two rescued dogs, a German shepherd and a mut, in Gara Bov, Bulgaria

Animal portrait photograph of a mutt in Gara Bov, Bulgaria

Animal photography of a rescued german shepherd looking up at camera with smile in Gara Bov, Bulgaria

Animal photograph of white shy rescued dog in Gara Bov, Bulgaria


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