Life in Bulgaria

Village Life in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria, San Stefano, a Farmer Milking Sheep

Bulgaria, a farmer milking sheep (which makes a superb white cheese named Sirini Cheese).

Most villages in Bulgaria consist of approximately three to five hundred people, with most having at least one or two shops, and the odd amenities, although they will invariably be close to a sizeable town, which will have very much more to offer.

The houses in the villages generally come with between 1000 and 4000 square metres of land. It is from this land that the village people are able to live, and they make use of every square metre, growing their own vegetables, fruit and walnut trees, and also keeping chickens and a couple of pigs. Some of the village people may have a job – e.g. in a brewery or vineyard, more often in the government run local corporation – but wages are very small for non qualified workers, and wages in some cases are irregular to say the least.

The roads in Bulgarian villages – unless they are on a main road – are sometimes little more than dirt tracks, although many others are a lot better, but they seem to go for long periods without any maintenance work. The situation with the main roads is definitely improving with the grants from the E.E.C. helping tremendously.

Because village life is pretty much subsistence farming, and as the temperature can be very high, there is the associated smell of farming in some of these areas, but what else would you expect.

Many of the younger people have left the villages to gain education, or to find work in the towns and cities. Because of this, many houses are left with just old people occupying them, and as they pass on many are left empty. Few village dwellers - except the young people - speak any english at all, so there is an obvious language barrier. I have found that through learning to read the Cyrillic alphabet, and learning some Bulgarian, my 'credibility' is raised no end. I have found that vilage people in Bulgaria are friendly, helpful, hospitable, and kind to a fault.

When houses are left empty they begin to decay, and it is many of these properties that are being offered to foreigners for next to nothing. Make no mistake; these properties will take a lot to bring up to Western European standards. However, when they are done to a standard they can be superb places to live, and very pleasing to the eye. When doing up these properties one should consider installing air conditioning, which will cool down the rooms in the very hot summers, and heat them up during the cold winters.

Many of the older village houses have no direct water supply, although they will have a water well on the land. For this reason, there will often be no inside toilet or bathing facilities, and the outside toilet will probably be just a room in an outbuilding with a hole in the ground, which is emptied periodically. Some of these toilets – if you are not used to them – may have quite disagreeable odours, and often attract flies and stinging insects.

As I said earlier, the Bulgarian village people live a life of 'subsistence farming', where what they can grow or rear is what they will live on. They work very hard and seem to provide more than they can actually use from their own land.

When there is work to be done - for example to reap the grape harvest - it is usual that all of your neighbours will be there to help, and of course that works both ways. Whoevers crop you are harvesting will undoubtedly put on a feast, there on a blanket in the middle of the fields.

It may surprise you to see that even a bent old Bulgarian lady in her 80's and even 90's is capable of planting a field full of vegetables and fruit. That is common place, believe it or not.

If you are considering buying a property in a village, then one drawback is that less money appears to be spent on the infrastructure of these villages, e.g. on the roads, and even things we take for granted - like refuse collection is a few large plastic 'sulo' type bins scattered around the village. But make no mistake, the people are so very kind, and will make you feel so welcome, will want to give you meals, and the national drink - rakkia - which is very alcholic, and it will be common to find a box of food left on your doorstep.

It is more likely in a rural setting that the roads will be pot-holed, due to lack of highway financing, and care must be taken to avoid what can be quite large holes in the road. The only remedy for the situation is to drive slowly and with care, and realise that if the car in front pulls to the wrong side of the road, it is for a reason - so you should probably follow him.

Although Bulgarians do keep animals as pets, they mostly only keep animals that can 'pay their way', so most village houses might have pigs, sheep, chickens, a cat (to keep the unwanted pets in the barn down) and a dog for security - not that it is often needed. So as you might imagine, it is usual that most village properties also have outbuildings, which are often barns or chicken coops.

The villages in Bulgaria are numerous, but as I find any photographs, or have something interesting to tell, I will put a link to the villages below:-


Prilep> Ravda>> Sadievo>>
San Stefano>>Sigmen



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