Week 63 – Goatmilk Festival and Intro Vladyslav and Intro Andrii

Dear readers, we are happy to welcome in our team Vladyslav and Andrii from Ukraine. Here are their intro videos as a Hello to all!

Vladyslav and Andrii:





Dear readers,


Last weekend Peter, Vyara, and I left Todorovo for an adventure to Gorna Bela Rechka in the Vratsa Balkan. Gorna Bela Rechka is situated in the province of Montana. The region itself is seen as one of the poorest of the EU. The region’s rural area is depopulating increasingly, with people looking for employment in bigger cities, or elsewhere in Europe. This has left an aging population in the villages fending for themselves by producing their own food. One of the traditional products of Gorna Bela Rechka used to be a special type of whole fat goat milk curd. Sadly very few locals still have goats, and are using the milk mainly for themselves.

In this desolate situation a few locals decided to change matters, take a leap of faith, and organize an international festival: the Goatmilk Festival. As the name suggests, the festival celebrates local food and culture of the past and present. At the same time, Bulgarian and international people interested in art, music, culture, and local food are invited to share their passions and knowledge.

We went to the festival to represent Venets and sell some jams, lemonades, and cupcakes. It was very calm and people were extremely friendly. Peter and I participated in a juggling workshop, and were surprised how easily one could learn if taught correctly. During the whole weekend there were workshops, music, food, and drinks, all in the beautiful surroundings of the forest and the fresh air coming from the local river.

UP RIGHT: Vyara and Peter setting up the stand at Goatmilk. UP LEFT: Vyara getting ready to swim in the ice-cold river. (photo credit: Anastasja Giacomuzzi). DOWN LEFT: Anastasja serving lemonade to Vyara. (photo credit: Vyara Marinova). MIDDLE RIGHT & DOWN RIGHT: Abandoned Ledenika lift (photo credit: Anastasja Giacomuzzi)

On Saturday, Peter and I went to the Vratsa Pass to climb a bit on the impressive cliffs, and hike around. We were impressed by the beauty of the mountains, which reminded us of our home in the Alps. At the same time, it saddened us when we saw that the Alpine hut which until few years ago hosted climbers and hikers, and Ledenika lift which connects the valley to the mountain pastures, were in a state of abandonment. This is telling of the financial difficulties in the region, despite its beautiful surroundings, and amazing opportunities. 

When we got back to the festival we decided to watch a performance by Mariana Iotova, Ralitsa Kovacheva-Bejan, Iordan Borisov titled “DUENDE – Mother – Earth”. Even though we only understood few words from the text (it was all in Bulgarian), we were drawn in by the sound, images, movements, and voices of the performers which united each other in an intense and beautiful harmony. By the end we were stunned, and realized that sometimes words are not needed to share feelings and experiences.

On Sunday we joined a workshop by Sheila Saadat, an Iranian woman who is living in Sofia, on how to make Nan Panjereh, a typical Iranian dessert made out of crispy fried dough in different shapes. It tasted and looked yummy!

At the end of the weekend, we packed our things and left, and were joined by our new friend Lora Nikolova. Lora is a natural therapist, herbalist, and certified natural pedagogue. After living for many years in Berlin, Lora decided to return to Bulgaria and move back to her hometown in Lovech province. She studied Ethnology and Linguistics in Berlin, and stayed there for around 20 years. She relished Berlin’s liveliness and incomparable music scene. However, her stay was not always a happy one. She often struggled with the prejudice of Westerners towards Eastern Europeans, having to prove herself over and over again, until 2 years ago, she decided to return to her roots, and bring back a new spirit and knowledge.

During the Goatmilk Festival she gave two workshops, one on making herbal tinctures with ash and clay, and another about forest bathing. In general, Lora is interested in bringing people closer to nature, to find harmony within themselves and with nature. She gives seminars, workshops, and retreats all over Bulgaria. She is a very inspiring person, and one to watch out for. We hope to see her again soon, and maybe even visit her in her herbal garden in Lovech.

We left Gorna Bela Rechka feeling like it was not desolate at all; that thanks to the richness of the beautiful nature, the peaceful locals, and daring innovators a brighter future for all may still come.


Talk to you soon!



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