Despite my somewhat sarcastic tone (one reader kindly referred to it as ‘whining’), I like to think I paint a positive picture of Bulgaria. I hope it comes across how much I love, love, love it here. I really hope so.
But nowhere is perfect, right? Like anywhere, Bulgaria has its issues. It’s poor. Wages are disgustingly low. Corruption is a thing (although, the corruption here is obvious, which makes it strangely honest…). The roads are shocking. These things are explainable, though. And they will, over time, get better.
It’s the fucking litter that I don’t understand.
Litter is a huge problem in Bulgaria, at least in the rural areas. Walk by a pretty river, or through a field or forest, and what do you see? Litter. I don’t get it. Bin men come and collect domestic rubbish every week, just like in the UK. There are huge communal bins in every village and town, and along main roads. And there are municipal waste sites. Why drive out of your way to dump your rubbish in the countryside?
|Next to the river, just outside our village.|
One time we were driving along and kept seeing little bits of rubble, empty concrete bags, piles of brick dust, etc. at regular intervals. It went all along the main road from our local town and even all along the road in our village. A truck had clearly been driving around, chucking rubbish out along the way, rather than go to the municipal tip just outside the town. Isn’t that the most antisocial thing you’ve ever heard? (Not to mention an enormous waste of time.) It’s not just large-scale fly-tipping either. I’m always picking up coffee cups and food wrappers from the street outside our house.
|Taken in Veliko Tarnovo. An empty house becomes a dumping ground.|
It’s criminal really, because Bulgaria is a place of ridiculous natural beauty. I think it’s one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I still get flutters whenever I’ve been away and I drive out of Sofia, up, up into the mountains, and I think, wow, I live here. The countryside could easily be Bulgaria’s main selling point. It amazes me that Bulgaria isn’t the go-to place for eco or hiking holidays. They’re sitting on a natural goldmine. And then I see a pile of shite by the side of the road…
Initiatives like ‘Let’s clean Bulgaria in one day’ are helping to raise awareness. And I hope the next generation will be much more protective of the countryside. For now, I’ll keep picking up the wrappers and imagining slow, painful deaths for the litterbugs responsible. Because I’m nice like that.