So... Bulgaria is incredibly beautiful. It is like... It's like a fairytale, a fantasy story, a... Oh, I don't know! But there are mountains and forests and rivers and kilometre after kilometre of untouched nature, areas where there used to be villages, centuries old villages! You could probably travel for days and never meet anyone but yourself and your horse and only cross a handful of roads and... Oh so beautiful.
And the horses we rode!
Lovely creatures. I rode a chestnut, thirteen-year-old fellow named Vichar who, along with the guide's horse (Musketar, by far the most beautiful), embodied the Bulgarian proverb: A crazy man doesn't get tired, he just gets sweaty (I personally really liked this proverb). And he had such a fast trot. I was told that if I didn't hold him back while trotting, I'd end up way in front of the others in no time flat!
We were seven people down there, plus the guides, an amazing four Danes, two French, and one Israeli plus assorted Bulgarians for guides. But the first day was hellish, Mom and I arrived at one and the rest appeared around five, which means we had to wait around for them for hours, and then there were actually more to come, but the two Frenchies (a man and his thirteen year old daughter) could take the LONG drive with us from Sofia to the hotel in Sevlievo. We didn't eat dinner 'til around midnight, and then I somehow ended up with two dishes, a huge chicken fillet (both my hands put together couldn't cover it) and a traditional Bulgarian dish called kavarma, which tasted delicious but I just didn't have any appetite for it combined with the fillet.
It was so nice to be riding again, it really hurt after the first day. My calves (especially around the front) and my buttocks were the worst, but my back and tummy was also not feeling good. My thighs, though? No, they were complaining around the last hour or so, but they stopped before we did and I never heard from them again. At the end of day two it was much better, although I had been really sore during the first half, but I suspect that was mainly because I didn't really want to focus on the urbanesque area we moved through and thus didn't distract myself as well. We had five falls during the first two days, two of them by my mother. The first two falls was by an elder Danish woman who had apparently never galloped (the Bulgarians apparently have problems with the Ls, they pronounced it "gawop"), she got a concussion which lasted all week, the poor woman, and my mother fell off at around the same time due to her stirrups being too long and she sprained her ankle getting up. The third fall was the woman's husband when the horses got scared of some cows (Vichar was very stoic about it, although he was a bit jumpy when we changed from one type of grass to another). He hurt his shoulder and got back on the horse for a private lesson on the second to last day. The fourth fall was the Israeli, who just sort of slipped off her horse... She stayed on until lunch, but then she got off, too. The fifth fall was my mother, again, this time on pavement because her horse got scared of some grids by some train tracks... She stayed on for the rest of the day. No more falls after that.
On the third day, mother didn't feel so good about high speeds so our new guide, Alex (until then we'd had his daughter, Maria), kept a hold on her horse, Jordan, for the rest of the day. We had two free gallops despite this and even crossed a river which was just a wowie-wow experience. Alex regularly pointed out where we'd been on the previous mountain so-and-so long ago. At the picnic that day I learned that when you're hot, one of the best things in the world is to drink water lying down, 'cause then you hydrate and get water over your face and neck at the same time! Bliss! The picnics were very nice and comfy, with jokes and good food (they told one about the perfect proportions of marriage being 90-60-90 which wasn't chauvinistic at all).
On the fourth day mother realized she hadn't had enough to drink on the third day and had suffered heat-stroke, and she did a less-than-thoughtful thing and kept our water bottle, so I didn't really have anything to drink off until one of the French (really sweet people! Did I tell you that?) noticed and offered me one of theirs. More gawoping on that day.
The fifth and final day was the shortest, but we had plenty of gallop to make up for it, I even galloped right into a branch. A very small branch, but it still stung my nose horribly, I kept my hand up after that. Sadly, Maria's (who was our guide yet again) favourite field for galloping had been turned into a cornfield, a situation made more frustrating by the fact that she was confident the farmers wouldn't harvest it.
Too bad, especially since I would have missed the branch if they hadn't done it.
But, meh, I can't complain. It was a wonderful trip, and even though I missed Havana and could have killed an allergic person with my breeches when I got home (I had one set in 30-something degrees heat, and I met a couple of shedding dogs and petted some kittens while wearing them they were full of hair and reek!) it felt like I was in completely different utterly wonderful world.
Then came the trip home which was a horrid wake-up call. Havana was happy to see me in the airport, though.
I just bought a new computer, here the other day, to change the subject completely. I like it a lot.
It doesn't have the keyboard problem the old one did. It does however lack Microsoft Works... Which is a problem as it's my favoured writing program.
But, meh, it has such a wonderful sound I have to keep it down or it'll travel through the wall.