The food stores started to run low late Tuesday. Not a problem, I thought, we have the small shop in the village. Well, it might have at one point been sufficient to cover the “essentials,” but it certainly isn’t now and it’s not a reliable source for something so basic as bread. I’ve barely bought any bread for home in the last couple of years, but it’s being a staple here. If I’d been able to get a loaf Tuesday or Wednesday morning, I would have lasted to market day, tomorrow, but the shop has been out. I asked the English-speaking guesthouse owner if that’s normal and he said yes, bread is hit or miss at the shop. Wonderful. They also did not have toilet paper yesterday, another thing I’d been assured they stock.
I might have been able to stretch things a little further if the restaurant here in the village wasn’t so intimidating. I went to investigate it last night, but the person who greeted me had no patience for me. The only menu was a handwritten sign written in a form of Cyrillic I haven’t learned yet and all I could recognise was bean soup. I pointed to that and was told, “Ne.” Okay, maybe they were out. So I asked for salad, which is a staple of Bulgarian cuisine. “Ne.” They were definitely open and people were eating, but something crucial was obviously being lost in translation. I apologised for bothering her and headed home.
So despite really not having time for a trip to Yablanitsa today, and it being about 35C by the time I was able to take off, I had to go to town today or else I’d only have plain potatoes or the really crappy mushy pasta the village store sells to eat until tomorrow.
It was a very, very, very long walk under a broiling sun, but I finally made it to town. I made a withdrawal at the ATM and went to the supermarket… which had no cheese, deli meats, yoghurt, sour cream, and more. I found myself having walked 6KM, with a return trip to “look forward” to for toilet paper, bread, and jam?! I was pleased to find brown rice and soy sauce as I was heading out since I can do plain brown rice and soy sauce for days on end if I have to. The soy sauce bottles said “соев сос.” “So-ev” sort of sounds like soy and coc is pronounced sauce. A quick dictionary check confirmed I’d struck gold, but there were four different bottles. The first one had a word underneath soy sauce that sounded like “classic” and that was good enough for me. Rather sad that finding soy sauce was the highlight of my day.
As I dejectedly started walking back towards the town square, I noticed another shop with a sign that clearly said “food store.” Oh, those nightly lessons are starting to pay off! I went in and it was a very cramped deli-type place. No room, really, to look at labels and translate things since there were a lot of customers. I figured another few days of salami sandwiches won’t kill me so I pointed to some in a case and spread my fingers to show how much I wanted and did the same for a bit of cheese (“sirene” is their feta-style cheese and “kashkaval” is a harder cheese that’s good in sandwiches — I asked for the latter). At the till, I asked the lady if she could call a taxi for me. “Ne.” 🙁 🙁 🙁
There is a fast food place that sells pizza-like stuff right around from the bus stop, so I went there to see if I could get lunch. They were out. The only other fast food place I’d noticed also was out of whatever they normally have. I’m starting to understand now how happy some folks are to see a McDonald’s in foreign country… I cannot believe how intimidating it is to go to a restaurant out here. I’m hoping that I will get my weekend in Sofia so I can break that ice.
I did pass a sit down restaurant on the way out of town, but it was getting really late and I had tons of work to do (still face another three hours tonight and it’s past 4:00), so I didn’t investigate it. I just began the very, very, very long schlep back to Malak Izvor.
The sun was just broiling, as bad as anything I’ve experienced in Maz in the winter. Absolutely relentless. I had to stop in shady spots for a bit to get the courage to keep going. Yes, I had water, and I got through a lot of it!
I was about 2KM from home when I got picked up by an English couple that lives in the area. They knew that I’m staying at Max’s. In the very short ride, I was able to confirm that if I can catch the Teteven bus at the junction of the main road, they will pick me up, but good luck with that since the schedule isn’t very precise. I also learned that the two food stores I’ve been to in Yablanitsa are it. If I had been in the opposite situation, knowing that my passenger had walked more than 10KM in that heat, I would have offered to drive them all the way home, but I was dropped off at the guesthouse, with the steep final slog to do. But I was grateful to have gotten off my feet for just that little bit.
I have to confess that it would have been really nice to be “adopted” by someone here to learn basics, like how to order at the village restaurant and how to get the taxi (which I have seen, so I know it exists). Someone with a car to pop in once or twice a week and say, “Hey, you must be getting cabin fever. How about you take me to lunch in Teteven if I drive?” It’s very clear that none of the British expats here are interested in that job. I don’t blame them since such a position can be quite time consuming, although I’d like to think I wouldn’t take advantage of the help or use my contact as a taxi service.
I really hope that my weekend in Sofia happens because I need a reset and a chance to do a proper grocery stock up (although I haven’t figured out yet the logistics of getting groceries home all the way from Sofia). I doubt I’ll be going to the market tomorrow, but with there being a better chance of getting a lift there and back than there is other days, I may reconsider.
Well, I’m off to take my doggies on their walk. I’m sunburned, foot sore, and clean out of energy reserves, so who knows how far we’ll get, but at least I’ll make the effort. I was so happy to come home to them this afternoon since they were so pleased to see me. Penghu was put upon that I’d kicked him out of the house before leaving, so he haughtily hissed at me and ran off.
I’m okay, just frustrated that the grocery situation is proving to be so much more complicated than I expected it to be. At least, beer and ice cream are easily accessible! 😀