Village Life in Bulgaria

Today’s post comes from Jim Tjepkema

I have been keeping in touch by Facebook with a friend from Bulgaria.   He posts all kinds of information about Bulgaria on Facebook including the You Tube video found below.  This video about village life in Bulgaria reminded me of the villages I visited there as an agricultural volunteer.   I visited in person with a number of people who had a life style similar in many ways to the couple shown in the video.

Many of the Bulgarians living in the villages I visited own livestock, although they might not have as many animals as you see in the video.   Farms, like the one shown, are located in Bulgarian rural villages and are not scattered around the countryside as they are in our country.  Even farms larger than the one shown seem to operate out of farmsteads situated in villages.  When I was in Bulgaria they were trying to recover from their years behind the Iron Curtain when all the people who owned farms were forced to give up their land and work at cooperative farms.  However, during the Russian occupation people in the villages were allowed keep small plots of land and small numbers of livestock to provide themselves with food.

In the video you see the sheep return to the homestead for the evening.   I suspect that the sheep had been taken out to pasture by a herdsman from the village that looks after the livestock of the villagers during the day.  I saw villagers going to meet their livestock that was brought back to the town in the evening by someone who had been watching them during the day.   During the day I saw livestock being tended by shepherds as they grazed in open fields along the roads.

Apart from the sheep, some other livestock are shown that are being cared for including a donkey.  That donkey is probably used to pull a cart.   I saw people using donkey carts the way we would use a car or a truck, although some families did own cars and trucks.   The sausage, wine, and fermented cabbage shown in video were probably all products of the farm.   I think I was served homemade wine at every village home I visited.  Also, in many homes, I saw wood burning cook stoves like the one used by that older couple.

Village people in Bulgaria live much the same way small farmers lived in this country many years ago.  Most of the occupants of the villages are older.  Some are young, although it seems that many of the younger ones have moved to big cities.   As I listen to the campaign speeches of some of our Presidential candidates, I wonder if I wouldn’t be better off living in a Bulgarian village producing my own food and wine.  I believe that many places like the one shown in the video are now for sale because the older generation of people living in those places is dying off and the younger ones are moving to big cities.

If you decided you no longer want to live in the USA, where would you go?

52 thoughts on “Village Life in Bulgaria”

  1. I often think about this when I’m traveling around. #1 would be small village about 45 minutes from downtown Brussels. I’d run a small inn with flower boxes, although I’m not sure I could ever learn Dutch.

    #2 would be Queenstown, NZ. House above my shop that sells woolen goods.

    #3 would be a safari camp in South Africa where I would work as a group coordinator for safari groups.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure I’m cut out to be an innkeeper or a shopkeeper
      you’d be good at it but sitting in a shop would be enough to drive me nuts
      New Zealand is on my bucket list I’ll bet I could find something to do there


  2. I had a mechanic from England who hated Minnesota winters move recently to portability where life is cheap. he was complaining that on a visit he found that his mechanic skills wouldn’t pay much and he was upset until he put 2 and 2 together and realized he wouldn’t get pai much but that it would be enough to pay the small bills he would have to pay.
    Honduras and Belize are tropical paradises where life is cheap.
    Ireland was cheap 30 years ago when I was there, I’d do that in a heartbeat. China would be worth checking, Canada may be the place. I’m betting Cuba is going to be a kick in another couple of years. I can’t imagine getting held hostage there if something came up but I’m guessing that aspect of Cuban visits are no longer a concern
    my daughters husband goes to Kosovo to help his family. he bought family farm when it burnt up in a fire and fixed it up for 30,000 he borrowed. he has difficulty with medical needs for his mom and sister. the doctors leave for places that pay better and he ones that remain are corrupt. stuff we don’t think about here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The situation in Bulgaria is a different from Kosovo in some ways and similar in other ways. I don’t know enough to give a complete picture. I believe their economy is still not in good shape. I also think there are some problems establishing a government that will serve the people although I don’t know much about this. However, I was treated very well when I visited and found aspects of the country very attractive including the villages set in the foothills of the mountains.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. kosovo govt is poor, their economy sucks
        were you referring to kosovo as the country that has government that doesnt serve the people? and has a bad economy?

        his dad is not able to figure it out. a coule of cows should theoretically make you a wealthy man but the dad cant pull it together and the medical needs go unmet. horror stories. his mom had a seisure last time there,
        his sister is a mental illness problem
        his cousin got misdiagnosed and now has the medical condition where you are locked in your body and cant move but your brain is 100% awful
        father looks and acts 80 and is going to be 55

        its hard to go back for them and hard not to


        1. I was referring to the bad economy and problems establishing a government that serves the people in Bulgaria. From the very little I know about Kosovo I assumed they have similar problems. The situation your son-in-law is facing with trying to help his family sounds terrible.


  3. Canada (BC or Alberta for first choices), Switzerland, Australia or New Zealand. Gotta be English-speaking. I’m too old to learn a new language well enough to be able to compensate for my wife’s lack of “linguistic dexterity.” She’d drive me nuts if I had to constantly translate every verbal interaction we’d have in a foreign language country.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Because I haven’t traveled outside the US except for a few short trips to Canada (most of them just a few hours), I don’t know by experience where a good place to move would be. A cabin on the north shore of Lake Superior in Canada sounds fine and I’m sure there are many other beautiful spots in Canada that would suit me. For other options, I’ll pick some places that sound fun to visit: Scotland, New Zealand.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had very good luck getting picked to do volunteer work in Bulgaria. The agency that picked me paid all of my travel expenses. It was a good way see another part of the world. As a volunteer I was guest, not a tourist, and was invited into the homes of a number of families who asked me to have dinner with them.

      Liked by 4 people

  5. I’ve been too old to learn a new language for sixty-five years, so I fancy living in a stone cottage on the Isle of Man or maybe Skye. Instead of working I would become the Old Blevins of some pub with a traditional Celtic band so I could sit on a bar stool all day telling thrilling stories to tourists who would buy me pints of dark ale, not knowing I was an American.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. Especially if you go to northern Norway, but yes, even in the more southerly parts the sun is a sparse commodity during the winter months.


      1. did you know everywhere gets the same sun as everywhere else? hourwise that is but on the equator it is exactly 12 hrs of light and 12 hours of dark everyday
        on the poles it is 50/50 on 1st day os spring and fall and 99/1 on longest day of the year and shortest day of the year. every where in between is a graduated longer day and shorter night then the reverse but the minutes of light and dark are exactly the same everywhere.per year.


  6. Decisions, decisions! What weighs most heavily on the scale? Do I go for the perfect climate and disregard language issues and economical factors? Unlike vs, I don’t envision myself making a living where I go, so my savings and Social Security would have to suffice.

    A sleepy Greek fishing village would be lovely. I don’t know the language, and it’s obviously not in the most stable neck of the woods, but I love Greek food and the climate is great. I think that would be doable.

    Croatia is another place that might actually be realistic financially. A small fishing village on the Adriatic Sea would suit me just fine.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I had a friend, PJ, who lived on a sleepy Greek island (Mykonos) for about a year. Superficially, she looked like a librarian (shy, bookish, cautious) but startled us by saying she spent the year in bed with a local fisherman who spoke no English and she spoke no Greek. She enjoyed the food, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I spent some time on Mykonos in the mid-sixties….met a Swedish woman who lived there. I would consider retiring there as it was then, but no longer as I see how “upscale” and (even more) touristy it has become. Sweet memories of dark honey and butter on fresh bread sitting in a little garden. Didn’t sleep with any Greek fishermen though. HVS, was your friend’s name Shirley Valentine?

        Liked by 3 people

  7. Oh, let me count the ways! Cicely, Alaska. If that’s not there any more:
    – Père en Retz, France
    – Paris
    – some little village in Provence
    (I’m assuming that the French that I had started to pick up, when in France last April, would come eventually.)
    If I learn to speak in tongues:
    – Spain, Portugal
    – Belgium, Netherlands
    – Hawaiian island
    – Norway, Sweden (spring or fall – don’t want to live in eternal light or eternal darkness)
    – Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Yugoslavia, Romania, or Albania – somewhere that that I could still experience dancing in the village
    – Caribbean island


  8. Thanks for this lovely post, Jim – it is so satisfying to me to see things done in a more “hands on” manner. I envy you the experience you had in Bulgaria.

    OT: Just spent an hour catching up on baboonery comments from over the weekend – and finding myself LOL several times… Nothing to add about post-modernism, but particularly enjoyed Clyde’s description of the US Bank building – “But I give credit to a bank for giving the world a bold middle finger architectural salute, as they so often do financially.”


  9. Thanks for this post, Jim. I love seeing places where things are being done in a more… “hands on” manner. I envy you the experience you had there.

    OT: Just spent an entertaining hour reading what I’d missed over the weekend away. Found myself LOL at several junctures, including Clyde’s assessment of the US Bank building – “But I give credit to a bank for giving the world a bold middle finger architectural salute, as they so often do financially.”


  10. I am so busy… but I’m retiring at the end of this school year!
    Here’s one for a while back about time… the quote “what’s time to a hog?” reminded me of this one:

    Liked by 1 person

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