I wrote this page for some friends I made while living in a little village in Bulgaria, Ivan Vazovo. It was summer and I was in my favorite place in the country, Varvara, on the south east coast not far from Turkey.
I met this British bloke, he took me aside to share a joint with me, was elated with my company, and asked me what my plans are for the winter.
Soon enough I found myself tending his house for free while he went off to the mountains for a winter of earning money as a ski instructor. My stay there was for free, although it required buying a massive pile of chopped wood to keep the place warm enough to survive.
I even had some friends visiting from the Czech Republic. They drove down as, who else but Rick Simpson, was looking for a place to crash over the winter so that he could focus on writing his book.
Rick had an accident once at work, fell, and was subsequently inflicted with some ailment. No doctor could figure out how to fix it.
Eventually, by sheer fluke, he discovered that smoking dope helped a lot. He became a big advocate in Canada to legalize the substance, which it eventually has. He even ran for office a bit, but decided it was a waste of time.
He slept in my freezing cold room on my extendable lawn chair. My friends slept in the next room, which was not even heated. I was fortunate to have my -20C camping sleeping bag, with my wool hat and all the other tricks I learned during this period to keep myself survivably warm enough at night. But even so, just turning over to the other side had to be executed with caution, because it could open a floodgate of freezing cold air into the warm bag.
Needless to say they survived only one evening, but it was a fun visit. As Rick was ferociously scribbling his upcoming book with pen on paper, I invited the other two to a nearby hot springs.
The small village I lived in could have been taken straight out of the movie Borat. Drunkards occupying any of the villages only two bars, goats and pigs roaming freely, three scantily stocked food shops. But the area is interesting nevertheless.
For example, the air is so clean it apparently provides some 90% of the world’s rose hip oil, used to create perfume. With hot springs bursting out of the ground. One friend I frequently visited to play the boardgame Risk with once took me to a small cement structure, in the middle of which hot water was gushing out of the ground, in the dead of winter. It was open for anyone who knew its location. He stripped off all his clothes and started bellowing songs in the loudest voice.
Because my freezing cold house had no shower, every day I got into the routine of going for a jog to the next Borat village, about 2km away, jogging up along the hillside, and have my regular, hot bath there.
I invited my Czech friends there, while Rick ferociously scribbled away while sitting in the car, freezing cold. We lounged in the 45C bath, baking away for at most a tolerable ten minutes, in proper Czech style while holding a beer in our hands. After their freezing cold sleep the night before, they felt like in heaven.
Anyway, most people might say that this is the most boring place in the world, but for me it was just another unique experience which I will always cherish.
WWOOFING TOUR IN BULGARIA
Garden of one the house I am staying at.
This page started out for a wwoofing farm project, but it wasn’t a large enough scale to feed others, when the work could be done in-house for self-sustainment, or simply pluck off the trees. But if you’d like to experience that sort of organic existence, and explore the surrounding extremes with an extreme tour guide, you’re at the right place! Contact extreme organic tour guide.
Live simply in a small village, where the elders still take their sheep for a walk for the day. Where 44°C hotsprings gush out of the ground, feeding healing mineral water descending from the distant mountains. Paraglide with Nasko, a proud and retired airforce pilot, who has grasped the vigor of life through yoga, meditation, extreme. You can check out his webpage here. They can teach you how to work in the garden, how to heal your body and spirit, how to change your life (“it is not so easy like putting on pink glasses”). Bunji jumping off bridges wedged in mountainous canyons, quad around the countryside and rolling hills, rent his horse, even caving. Not to mention that it lies in the Valley of Roses, where the air is so clean it produces enough wild pink roses to supply some 90% of the world’s rosehip <? oil, used to make perfume. Learn how to live from your own small plot of land, eat delicious and healthy live food in season, sleep like a baby to the whisper of nature. <put in gps coordinates? ask..>
The below text was written for the original wwoofing project (there is still a chance with one other farm/family <>, who are working on two houses and plots of land at the moment – the pictures below) but still serves to provide other useful information. Hope you enjoy. I enjoyed staying there a year and helping them out with this website and other things.
Our wwoofing farm is located just north of Plovdiv, in the centre of Bulgaria. The area is called the Valley of Roses because it produces about 90% of the world’s rose oil, used in the production of perfume. One of the reasons why there are so many wild roses here is because the air is so clean, so if you come wwoof with us, you can expect to get real healthy! Plovdiv, about a 45 minute/1.5 Euro bus ride to the south, is Bulgaria’s second largest city, so big city party life is only a skip and hop away. Otherwise, we’re a good collective and you can expect lots to do in this little village. Because we are located in the centre of Bulgaria, it will also be easy for you to travel to and visit other parts of the country. The valley is surrounded by mountain ranges, which makes it good for weekend excursions, and creates for us a calm and temperate climate. One of our village friends runs Extreme Sports Bulgaria and perhaps you could borrow his horse, so don’t expect to ever get bored! The next village to the north has a hot mineral springs where you can lounge in the pool for an entire day at a cost of only 1 Euro.
Nasko taking one couch surfer paragliding,
about 45 minutes drive from our farms.
Here’s another cool clip.
We’re also reconstructing some of the wwoofing houses, so you can expect to learn lots during the summer. We expect to build a small community and you shouldn’t have to work for more than an hour or two a day, so consider it a cheap vacation among some very cool people. Live music around campfires, excursions into nature, yoga training, you name it. Casual is the key, and to build a pleasant and friendly community. If you’d like to join us for any time during the summer (preferably in the spring, since it gets too hot here in the summer, when we hit the coast), write us a note!
More Information of Wwoofing at our Place here in Bulgaria
Naska preparing picnic lunch in front of her garden. Year round the family mostly eats from nature.
First off, you can expect to get fed and a roof over your head for free, and for an hour or two of pleasant and educational work a day, you can consider it a cheap vacation. We hope to base the farming techniques on permaculture, which is a new way of gardening whereby plants are placed on mounds and organized in such a way that they interact with other plants, or a tree, or a pond, or worms in the ground to create a nature-mimicking and self-sustaining system. Unlike traditional farming techniques, the soil is not overturned in the fall but rather left as is, to preserve the homes of the worms and other free helpers. Rain run-off from the roof and even the septic tank can be used to feed the garden, so you can expect to have lots of time to play music with us (like this cool visiting couchsurfer we had a great jam with), play sports and travel around the country! And learn about this important, earth-saving technique. We’ll also be fixing up the houses, but you can expect to contribute how much time you like. Most travelers are simply bored and look forward to getting involved or to learn something, so there is no stress or pressure and we are all happy. We also accept couch surfers (that links to my page, so you can read the references about me), so you can look forward to a constant flurry of really cool people. In case you don’t know what it is, couch surfing is a real cool concept where travelers can sleep on the couches of hosters. The people who tend to host are most often similar to the surfers in the sense that they are both adventurous risk takers and generally interesting and generous people. You can set up your own profile and visit people all over the country, launching from your central base.
Four years ago I moved myself and my business into a truck so I could travel freely around the world (mostly Europe for now) with solar panels on roof and internet through mobile phone. I’ve truly enjoyed the variety of life. For example, for a while I was helping a friend reconstruct his houses here in Bulgaria, and I was assigned the very important task of finding construction chicks. I make these web pages to help others and because it helps get my important pages higher up in google (my primary means of finding new customers). So excuse the search engine optimization ramble. I’ll try to be interesting while stuffing this page with important words like wwoofing or woofing in Bulgaria.
Therefore, I’m now using some of the reconstruction skills I learned from my friend to help another friend. For less than an hour’s work a day I had an entire house to myself while my friend instructed skiers in the mountains over the winter. A very casual project and an interesting option to occasionally get away from the computer and do something physical. I’ve been hosting frequent couch surfers over the winter, since Plovdiv is on the way from Sophia to Istanbul, Turkey, a common destination. The fact that we are so close to Plovdiv makes it a pleasant pit stop, away from the big cities of common travel routes. I hosted couch surfers in my truck during the summer, while parked on the coast, and they truly enjoyed being able to get off the beaten path and relax for a bit. Traveling can be pretty hectic and many didn’t want to leave my little paradise. Couch surfers say the same about their stay here. In the cities the locals are often used to tourists and foreigners, so you don’t necessarily get much attention. But in the villages the grandmas wave to you while the hens, goats, sheep and other animals freely roam the streets. In the cities the bars and conversation can often be the same like the city you came from, so such retreats as ours can be truly rewarding.
History of Wwoofing
Wwoofing stands for World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It is a loosely run organization in 99 countries whereby people can go work on organic farms for food and accommodation. You can consider it a great and cheap way to travel, stay in some area for a while, and learn something about organic farming. This is important because it helps save the planet. Just think how wonderful it would be if you took your skills back with you to your city and do what the Bulgarians do: patches of grass between apartment buildings are stuffed with little vegetable producing gardens. Why pump carbon gases into the atmosphere while driving to some large grocery store which imports garlic from China (that, in turn, pumping more fuel and stink into the atmosphere) when you can go for a casual stroll downstairs a pluck a fresh juicy off a bush? You’ll know it’s not sprayed and it will taste so much better.
Examples of WWOOF experiences include harvesting cup gum honey from Ligurian bees at Island Beehive in Kangaroo Island, harvesting Syrah grapes for Knappstein Vineyard in the Clare Valley, and harvesting coffee beans from arabicas in Northern Thailand. So it can be a really neat and cheap way to see the world.
Originally the term WWOOF came from Working Weekends on Organic Farms, in 1971 in England. During WW2 England adopted a practice of encouraging city folks to plant a garden on a small plot of land on the outskirts, because the war and general bombing greatly reduced food supplies. After the war, the practice stayed and became popular, and now proves to be an organic way to sustain much of one’s diet. My cousin has two small plots and says its enough to provide her and her two sons with about 77% of their vegetable consumption – and they like to eat a lot of vegetables. So a woman names Sue Coppard started this concept to help promote this organic movement.
People enjoyed it and asked to stay longer, so she changed the name to Willing Workers on Organic Farms. Expectedly, bureaucracy can take its toll and the word “work” became a problem with the labour laws of some countries, so they changed it to World Wide.
< history of permaculture
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