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Published: July 28th 2009
Our greeting party at the mayor's house: music, bread, wine, and popcorn headdresses. That's Mayor Tanya in the green.
Today I went on a trip to a village called Dubovik, which was about an hour and a half outside of Varna. Upon arriving in this small village the mayor, a woman named Tanya Purveva, came out and greeted us. Dubovik has a population of about 200 and a lot of elderly people. In fact, the mayor told us that the lack of youth is a problem in her opinion and wishes that more young people would live there, but they all move to the larger villages or cities like Varna.
The mayor then proceeded to give us a tour of her village. First we went to the cultural center, called the chitalishte, which houses a playhouse, library, and exhibition to a local hero/poetess, Dora Gabe, and is probably the most important place in the village. The whole center was built by volunteers with volunteer money. The group that performs there is very active and has actually traveled all over Bulgaria and the world to do performances. The library is an important place because there is no school in the village, so it is a place where at least some education can be achieved. (If kids need to go
to school, they just go to the neighboring village).
Next, we went across the street to the cutest little church. We were greeted by the priest and this little woman who was straight out of Fiddler on the Roof. She was this petite little woman with an endless smile on her face. We learned that her job is to clean the alter and that this job can only belong to a widow who is over 70 years old. The priest told us a little bit about his church and even sang some hymns for us.
Next we went a took a peek at the mayor’s office. We learned that she is the third female mayor of Dubovik and this is her 2nd term in office. Her job as mayor requires her to basically be everything for everyone…she takes care of all educational, health, and economic issues and even has to act as the police sometimes if there is an argument between villagers.
Our final stop was the mayor’s house for lunch. It was so amazing! We were greeted by music, bread, wine that we had to drink from a ladle, and popcorn headdresses (for good luck). We sat down at our tables to a feast. Everything was homemade and fresh from the garden and there was enough for at least 100 people (we were only about 60). There was traditional shopska salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, and sweet green pepper; sirene, a Bulgarian white cheese similar to feta; vine leaves stuffed with rice, carrots, onion, sunflower oil, dill, celery, parsley, and eggs; tarator, a cold soup of yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, dill, and sunflower oil; zucchini with garlic (lots!), dill, and yogurt sauce; and chicken with the most delicious rice that I couldn’t stop eating. We also had homemade juice, wine, and brandy. The brandy was SO strong…I could only take one sip and every hair on my body stood straight up...I think it was essentially moonshine.
After lunch we took a walk around the garden and marveled at the vegetables and herbs. Then we came back for watermelon and something like bakalava for dessert. Then two of the students participated in a mock wedding ceremony. The elder ladies dressed them up like they would a bride and groom and we all danced around and sang. It was so great to see this folkloric culture. I loved looking around and seeing everyone laughing and having a good time. The people there spoke no English so only our guides could communicate back-and-forth for us. It was still so fun and I think the villagers were so happy to entertain us and cook for us. I feel like I got to see something that I would never have had an opportunity to see otherwise and I’m so happy I went!
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