Issue 25

LOSING THE STRANDZHA

Every autumn and spring for the past millennium or so, 40,000 storks, 2,000 pelicans, 1,000 honey buzzards, 3,000 buzzards and 2,000 spotted eagles, red-breasted geese and cormorants fly over Bulgaria's southern Black Sea coast. This territory lies on the Via Pontica, a migratory route for birds from northern and eastern Europe and Siberia. As they pass by, they stop and find refuge in Strandzha's thick, centuries-old forests and wetlands, which reach all the way to the seashore, broken up in some places by golden beaches.

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LET'S LIVE LIKE 'WHITE PEOPLE'

"So many black people, unfortunately!" The source of this comment on the Olympic Games is educated, cultured and Bulgarian. Should it make the average UK listener feel smug? I'm not sure. As far as racist attitudes go, Bulgarians have a tendency to shamelessly reveal attitudes that many UK citizens have learnt to conceal.

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SUSPENDED IN MID AIR

There he said: "For three years our government has built more roads than were built during the previous 20. Since we stepped into office we built 100 kilometres of motorways and 4,000 kilometres of other roads."

We instantly thought that this should immediately be our Joke of the Month because it is primarily owing to the conflicts of interests and corruption in road construction that the EU suspended its funds to Bulgaria.

However, the really funny part was yet to come.

The prime minister got on the cabin lift line leading to the Kartala ski track.

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DREAM

However, Velichko Konakchiev's guest for the programme hadn't shown up. Which sucks, no matter how you look at it. So Velichko Konakchiev said to me:

"Look, why don't you come and give a short commentary on my show?"

"OK," I agreed. "But on what topic?"

"On whatever you want," Velichko Konakchiev replied with a wave of his right hand, while his left stroked his white, well-groomed beard.

There wasn't any time.

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ALUNMINIUM STAIRS, An excerpt

He sprang out of the bushes with his beret and peacoat, board games and dice. We had broken down on top of some mushrooms that he wanted to collect, but he welcomed us. My mom liked that Al kissed her hand. She hoped he would tell my dad not to be a dolt all the time but he didn't do that. He marched up the trailer's aluminum stairs every sundown to share my awake shift because I didn't mind playing Stalin when he wanted to play Hitler in his three-paneled board game, Eastern Front.

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