Icons of nature, history and the church

May 25

When in Bulgaria, you are sure to experience a few new things; including banistsa, stotinki, and even an earthquake! Around 3:00am on May 22nd, our cross-cultural group experienced the aftershocks of a 5.6 est. earthquake that damaged parts of Sofia – the capital of Bulgaria. No one from our group was injured, but it sure made for interesting conversation in the morning.

Student #1: Did you feel the earthquake last night?
Student #2: That was an earthquake?? I thought someone was jumping on my

After the earthquake, we made a trip into the Pirin Mountains. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate with our planned mountain hike. As we reached higher elevations, the rain began to fall and the idea of trekking through the snow became less and less appealing. We grabbed a few pictures by Baikushevata mura, the oldest tree in Bulgaria dating back 1300 years. From there, we shared a picnic lunch by the river, and returned to Bansko to play card games and enjoy cappuccino.

On Wednesday, the 23th, we took a short trip to Dobarsko, where we visited the Church of Theodore Tyro and Theodore Stratelates. Here we saw the famous (prophetic) icon of Jesus’ ascension on what appears to be a rocket ship – Very cool!

In the evening, we went to a cultural center in Bansko, where Daria’s photo exhibit, Baba’s Wisdom,  was displayed. While we were unable to understand most of the program, we could feel a lot of excitement and energy in the room. We were also able to share an authentic Bulgarian meal together, complete with endless meats, music, and even a solo from Daria’s father.

On the 24th, we left Bansko via train, and rode through the Rhodopi Mountains to the community of Asenovgrad. We enjoyed a meal at a government villa in Velingrad before continuing on to the Evangelical church in Asenovgrad, where we met our host families. Walking around Asenovgrad, we came upon a high school graduation. There were hundreds of people gathered outside, lots of yelling and car horns honking.

We will be spending the next 4 nights in Asenovgrad, traveling around this area and spending time with our host families. So much to see, hear, taste, and experience. Our time in Bulgaria is going too quickly.

-Molly Boese