Hitching Europe Blog #12 Team Plovkip: Broken hearts and stolen sweethearts

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Soviet sculptures serrated by cracks in the concrete frame our vision as we roll into Sofia late at night. Shaded by the night we amble into the city centre looking for a hostel. We quickly find one, and here our previous conceptions about scandinavian drinking culture are confirmed, we share 2 litres of wine with 2 danish girls, they drink wine because one of them has gluten allergy, always a point of bonding for Anne who suffers from various ridiculous allergies himself, and has been passed off as a jew by Mathieu to explain why he doesn’t eat pork (Mathieu secretly being a 3rd generation quarter jew himself, oh irony).

We also meet Jay and Sarah, He British, she Austrian, and after passing through the normal travellers questions: Who are you? Where are you from? How long have you been on the road? What do you do? We start an wonderful easygoing conversation about all the things in the world that occupy and interest us. Somehow, we stumble on heartbreak. Jay confesses to be heartbroken, and in disharmonious synchrony the rest of us raises our hands to confess that we are heartbroken too. We agree to share our stories: dispersed with jokes, to ease the pain, we share. Jay was married for 3 years and is travelling to start his own life again. Mathieu lost a great love because he wasn’t ready for it, Anne longs for the woman who opened him up completely but is no longer availabe to him, Sarah suffered from a guy, who pretended to be more interested than he was. More details are not in order, but we all felt more human and more alive, to not be alone in hurting, and to raise our coffees in compassion, and say hear, hear… That sucks, good luck with moving on! The pain made us wiser, and to have loved and been loved has been a blessing.

Our luck hasn’t run out yet, when we are having breakfast at a nice place, we meet Jaan. Gap-toothed accompanied by his big white dog, should be muzzled but wouldn’t harm a fly. Luck seems to have deserted him, a dutch Turk living in Holland for 40 years working in construction. When the crisis hit he lost his job, this prompted the dutch government to demand he take an integration course. This is an awful example of how racist policies are suddenly acceptable again in dutch politics and in fact across the globe. Understandably he refused to take it, but sadly he shares a fuck you! Do you have a problem with me attitude with Haagse sjonnie, he is in fact also from the hague, which you can tell from his accent. The world doesnt treat these people very nice, he lost his unemployment benefits, has a 20000 euro debt, and was still left with this debt when the goverment finally ruled in his favor to overturn their idiotic demand. By this time he had already lost most of his friends through his hate-filled rants on facebook. Smooth tongued polite educated fellows like ourselves are blessed enough, to usually charm our way out of threathening situations. His anger does not extend to us however, or his baby darling dog, who he cares for with complete devotion. Having sold all his belonging on the run, from the repossion guys, he bought a white fiat, and is on his way to Istanbul with only 100 euros, to start a life anew, his only contact being an old army friend. His sad stories contrast with the overwhelming Bulgarian mountains, the idyllic villages, the deserted fields and pristine forests. He takes us too Plovdiv, dropping us right in the city centre. We bid him luck, and with a firm handshake say goodbye. With a mixture of sadness for our Dutch friend and hapiness to have finally reached our final goal, here, deep in the Balkans.

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