Bulgarian Notebook: Another Dirty South
Written by Sarah Borufka
Saturday, 03 October 2009 12:54
My street in Prague is beautiful, lined with old leafy trees and always covered in perfectly soft light. It’s so quiet and serene, I don’t even need to look out of the window to know that the cab has arrived.When I see S. in front of my house it’s like I’ve just seen her yesterday. She smiles, we hug and I feel happy.
We met three years ago, on a fourth of July, at a friend’s house party in the Lower Garden District. At the time, I had bleached white hair with pink tips. Her hair was dark and curly. She acted like such a Sicilian, sassy even by New Orleans standards. I remember her talking about how if everything else in her life is fucked, she might as well go and enjoy herself and take trips to London and Denmark. I wanted to start a conversation with her, and didn’t know how, so I awkwardly told her that I was from Europe. We got to talking. At the end of the night, she pronounced me her wife, in this warm and ridiculously silly way that I came to love so much.
So here we are, both no longer residents of the city we love so much, meeting in Prague to get on a plane the next day to go to Sozopol, Bulgaria. Beach vay-kay, bitches!
The baggage policy of the discount airline we chose (wizzair) quickly causes us to rename them into shizzair, later jizzair. We finally get on the plane. S. is a flight attendant, so we score top seats and space in the overhead, because she knows how to “do dis”. Too bad others don’t, so we find ourselves two hours delayed because some passenger freaked just before take off. He had to be escorted off the plane, forcing everyone else to take their baggage out of the overhead bins for security reasons. Post 9-11 is a bitch.
We pass out and don’t wake up until the flight attendant pushes a cart with in-flight merchandise past us. We both look at the trashy perfume, dubious jewelry and cheesy toys and simultaneously say “pile of junk” and “ bunch of garbage.”
Dust. Heat. Humidity. It’s instantly visible how much poorer this country is. Both ATMs at Bourgas airport are out of cash, and we still need to get a cab 30 minutes south, to Sozopol.
The cab driver can take us to our hotel and stop at an ATM, no problem. The fare is 90 leva. 45 euro. 55 bucks. We’re being ripped off but we have no other choice.
Three gas stations later, we still haven’t found an ATM that isn’t out of money.
Hotel Orion. This is how we roll: cheap and dirty.
Our room is in a sad, clogged drain and shit stains a toilet that adorned with a “DISINFECTED” ribbon. We eat our dinner overlooking the beach and share a bottle of wine.
I sleep really well that night.
We quickly make new friends. Sugar butt, Eye Candy and Umbrella guy become our new family this week at the beach. It’s wonderful, because anything goes. We eat ice cream for lunch and spend the whole day lounging under our umbrella. S. does anyway. I am committed to a tan, so I try to spend some time in the sun. She puts on SPF 50 every hour. At the end of the week, she’s twice as tan as me. Fucking Sicilians.
There’s this amazing bar at the beach. It’s called Bar Harem and boasts all-white seating (white leather booths or white crushed velvet lounging seats). There’s a mural of a concubine on the wall and the whole thing is so tacky, it makes me giddy with joy. I can imagine this bar being really popular with New Orleanians. Too bad their cocktails contain enough sugar to wipe out entire indigenous civilizations. We leave after one.
I wonder what the people here think, how they live. The waiter at the little restaurant that does a wicked grilled veggie plate is really nice. We watch stray kittens together with him and exchange smiles. He rocks out to cheesy 80s ballads with his co-worker. But it’s hard to tell how people here see tourists, who are their bread and take over their city like locusts every summer.
One night we talk about her mother who has passed three years ago and she cries. I try to console her and sometimes a hug is the best you can do. I want to take her pain and flush it down that dirty toilet, but I can’t, so I make a silly joke. She laughs.
And one night, when we get back from dinner, there’s a cockroach in the bathroom. I’ve got enough New Orleans left in me to grab a shoe and try to kill it, but it’s been a while so it takes a lot of screeching and many failed attempts before I finally kill the bugger.
Despite the bullshit air conditioning surcharge and nasty bathroom, it’s sad this is our last night in the hotel. The end of Honeymoon III, the end of our existence as carefree beach babes.
The hotel’s transport to the airport sums the whole trip up pretty well. S. suspected the “shuttle” was really just some relative with a functioning car. Sure enough, some uncle of the receptionist is picking us up, 15 minutes late. He takes us on a trip to the city center, where he drops off his wife, with whom he’s been bickering non-stop. She gets out of the car carrying a bag . Then he drives around the old town for a few minutes and picks her back up. The bag she was carrying is gone. We finally get to the airport.
We pay him too much and leave knowing a little more about Bulgaria and each other, with sand in our purses and in our shoes.
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