Sofia, Bulgaria, June 2011
Read this article in Spanish
It was at dinner time in the hostel when we met him. Annika and I had already walked for a couple of hours in the streets of this Eastern European capital city and had already decided that after dinner we would take a pick on the stage outside the National Theatre. A folk music orchestra by the name of Karandila Jr. led by Kid Sorja was going to play for free.
After our meal Annika and I talked a lot, way too much, at least enough to draw his attention, Dave Copeland’s that is. After a brief but solid short talk I learned that David was 30 years old, studied Political Science in Missouri and worked a part time job as a baker. He talked about his recent trip to Turkey and how this was his 6th time on this side of the world. I told him about the concert we wanted to go and invited him. He accepted immediately.
As soon as we arrived at the concert and were fully surprised by the festive environment the orchestra had managed to spread through their music. I suddenly realized that the orchestra was made up by very young people; some of them were even kids. Age was no impediment for the extraordinary and passionate execution in which every music piece was played. I grabbed my camera and took advantage of the favorable situation in order to try to capture the dancing madness on the street.
I myself was amused when they played an interesting version of Carlos Santana’s Oye Como Va. While the concert was taking place David did not miss an opportunity to comment how much he liked the music, and how this sorted out to be a great idea.
Inspired by the happiness of the music, we decided to sum up the night with a pair of half liter glasses of Bulgarian beer in the bar at the corner of our hostel. We played cards and talked about The Simpsons and travel. He said that he would send me by email a bread recipe (which I am still waiting for). At the end of our second beer we unanimously decided to look for something to eat and go home to sleep. We celebrated this decision as if it would have been the craziest and boldest we had ever made. “That happens when you almost reach 30”, he said between laughters.
As we were eating our Kebab and walked towards the hostel he let it out:
“I was robbed yesterday, you know. I was walking alone in the streets of Sofia; three men approached me and asked me to give them all I had. I consider myself an experienced traveler, but the truth is last night I hardly had any sleep.”
The news just jumped out of nowhere. I never saw it coming. For a moment I was just glad we were entering the Hostel, but on the other side I was glad he could take that away from his chest. I felt a little bit freed myself. Silence prevailed for a moment and just as I was about to open my mouth he closed by saying:
“I think I’m alright now. I am not going to let a bad experience determine the ways I see people or life, you see three persons are not all Bulgaria”.
After going through the pictures I took that day, I noticed that during the concert David had a contemplative look in his face. The picture I took the day after, the morning he left, he had a big smile on his face. One that you might find in a satisfied traveler. That day I learned a lot from him.