Sharing the campsite with the White Brotherhood was a surprisingly pleasant experience. Everyone was quiet and considerate of the others. Therefore we decided to spend another night at the Old Hut. Afterall, it’s so beautiful in here….

Since the early morning we witnessed a crowd of White Brothers dressed in white habits climbing the hill. When we climbed another hill later on ourselves, we had a chance to observe their (most likely everyday) ritual – spiritual dance in circles on the root of the Chajduta mountain.

For today, we planned a round trip through the Seven Lakes valley with a stopover at Ivan Vazov Hut. The hike was spectacular – greenery, snow remains, mountains, lakes – many lakes (Bliznaka ezero, Babreka ezero, Okoto ezero, Chanakski ezero.…), wild horses and breathtaking views. No one around… simply a paradise on Earth. At least until we reached the Ivan Vazov Hut.

The taste of freedom

Surrounded by small sheet metal booths and a horse herd, the hut seemed much wilder than the previous ones we have seen. Arriving at the backyard, we see no one except for a big pasture dog playing with its puppies. “Ooooh, puppies!”, I yelp as I head towards them. “Come back here“, Thomas holds me back and I realize that invading the dog’s territory might not be the best idea. And so I at least grab my camera and zoom in. “They are playing with something”, I note, focusing my camera to see better. “What is that?”….”Oh my God….No!“, I shriek out when I realize what it is I’m looking at. It’s a leg. Most likely horse leg. The pupps are chewing a horse leg. “What the FUCK?!“. At that moment I just really wanted to run away. And perhaps I should have….

Wild Ivan Vazov Hut

“Let’s have at least something to drink quickly”, Thomas suggests. We make a bold decision to enter the hut. In the doors we encountered a woman. Firstly I thought that she’s a hiker as well but when I took a closer look, I realized that she’s likely the landlord. Her gingerish hair flew wildly all around her head, her saggy brests loomed under a faded top, her face was wrinkled and frown. With a very strick tone she asked whether we want an accomodation. We said that we would only like to buy something to drink. She went inside and handed us 2 beers asking for 8 leva (approx. € 4). Thomas gave her 20 leva banknote which she grabbed and completely lost any interest in us and went outside.

We pussyfooted around sheepishly for a while but then decided to chase her eventually. We found her behind the hut gesticulating furiously to the man in ripped jeans. Afterwards she headed back to the front door which was when Thomas dared to approach her again pointing at the beer and the money. That was a mistake…A hurricane bursted. The woman started to yell at us. We had of course no clue as to what she said but it was definitely not friendly. We froze in place staring disbelievingly at her. She marched angrily into the hut and few minutes later she brought back some money. The total amount still did not reconcile but we let it be…

Jesus Krist, where the hell are we…?“, I continued to contemplate. Meanwhile, the man in the jeans casually strode towards the dogs and took the leg away from them. I turned away and, in order to distract myself, I began to observe the horse herd on the opposed hillside across the valley. This seemingly idylic sight hit me for one more time. I noticed that one of the horses in the herd has only three legs and he stumbles slowly following the herd which he fails to catch up with. “That must be a bad joke, right?”, I felt my eyes filling with tears….

Thomas finished his beer, put the other one into the backpack and off we went. Our trail started to lead us slowly back to the Old Hut. On the way, we passed through another 2 horse herds. Some were shiest, some were not. One fearless horse with a snot at his muffle accompanied us on our way for a good quarter an hour. It seemed that he intends to come all the way back to the hut with us….

Bittersweet smile on a bittersweet day

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