This is part I of a 2-part series in which I contemplate my thoughts on a home base and reflect on previous experiences.
The Bulgarian Home Base
I’ve enjoyed my time in Bulgaria for the past 1.5 months, but there have been quite a few problems greatly changing my perspective of the place.
It is hard to be objective when other things that are not the fault of Bulgaria are “going wrong” as well. For example, my primary laptop started having some massive issues so I had to purchase a back up. Hopefully repairs will be finished by tomorrow, otherwise I will have to buy a new high-powered one.
This current laptop is ungodly slow. In fact, I’m going to sell it for as cheap as I possibly can because this laptop is utterly useless.
This is not Bulgaria’s fault. Though, what is Bulgaria’s fault is the absolute lack of purchasing options and the fact that strangely laptops are more expensive here for what you get than in USA/Germany.
Well, maybe it’s not Bulgaria’s fault persay, but you get the point: it would be a downside to living here.
Some other issues in living in Bulgaria have included extreme heat in the Summer with no AC (driving me insane and destroying my sleep), and many of my friends also being abroad during that first month of returning.
Strangely I seem to be hanging out with all kinds of new people than the old. Some of the old people I do not value anymore because I have realized they are unethical or not useful to my happiness. Others I don’t know what happened… Maybe they don’t like me as much, or we grew apart.
Things are still tight with my best friend, but with other friends it seems to be no different than anywhere else. I partly returned to Bulgaria to enjoy my pre-established social circles, yet strangely I am finding myself hanging around new people and doing new things.
I ask myself: what is the point of returning?
The most difficult thing about Bulgaria has been the constant feelings of heart-break and petty thoughts regarding my previous relationship. Some days it feels there are a million things I’d like to tell her. It’s so tempting to ask her to meet, to demand some respect or beg for the love that is now lost.
It feels that since returning to Bulgaria, my “vibe” has dropped. The reason for this occurrence I haven’t exactly pinpointed.
First, I am only recently discovering just how brutal travel is. Travel is easier than it has ever been, but it’s still brutal. I’ve moved around more in the past two years than most do in a lifetime, and that is not necessarily a positive thing.
In some instances the adjustment has been wonderful. Arriving in Bali was incredible and I adapted fast because I was well-rested for weeks before in Phoenix.
However when returning to Bulgaria I had a straight week of poor sleep and sleep deprivation in Thailand. I could be happy in Thailand as I was hooking up with a girl I would’ve potentially enjoyed to be my girlfriend, and partying with friends, but as soon as that went away and the sleep deprivation (and subsequent jet lag) persisted into Bulgaria it made adjustments massively difficult.
Perhaps the bigger reason for this drop in vibe is that- and this is only speculation- subconsciously Bulgaria has become associated with my old flame. After all, I never would’ve extended my visa that first time around if I hadn’t met her. I would’ve likely returned and enjoyed my friends, but it wouldn’t have ever become such an important place to me in my mind.
Since leaving Bulgaria that first time, I feel that I’ve lacked a certain vitality that I originally had when I started traveling the world.
Last night I couldn’t sleep until 3 in the morning, and as I wandered the streets alone I asked myself: is this drop in vitality a physical result of the brutalities of travel, or is this something within me that I will take even if I live in one place for a year straight?
My intuition (and reading) tell me that it could perhaps be a mix of both. There have been some moments (ie. Bali) where I’ve been able to zap out of my funk and enjoy some exhilarating excitement, but even in those moments there was a sense of persistent physical fatigue.
Perhaps I have lost my way, my self-connection, and what really drew me to travel in the first place. Or perhaps I was always lost (there’s a strong argument for that, too).
One way or another, I think that Bulgaria became bigger in my mind than it really is.
The Negatives of Bulgaria
Some of the negative facts include:
- Generally rude and unproductive customer service. I’ve mitigated this by only sticking to high-quality establishments, but it is in these places that prices are higher, so I minus well live in USA or Western Europe in that case
- Political instability / police / laws- it’s certainly safer here than in other places, but now with an increase in maturity and long-term thinking I am feeling more reluctant to live in such a place where the police are allowed to stop you and search you for no reason provided.
And I want to make VERY clear that I’m not saying Bulgaria is that bad. Southeast Asia is way worse/scarier in this side of things. All I’m saying is that I prefer to live in a place where I have more rights as an individual.
For example, in Thailand there are police checkpoints everywhere and they just become annoying to deal with after a while. Being white, they would occasionally test me by asking very specific questions about my driver’s license… It was clear they wanted me to trip up and bribe ‘em.
It was even worse in Bali, where the government literally bans some internet websites such as Reddit.
The overall point here is just that I do not feel so safe when I see a Bulgarian police officer. I feel that everyone (including Western Europe/USA) feels a sense of intimidation around the police, but it’s worse here in Bulgaria because they have stopped and aggressively searched me before for no reason provided.
- Drug laws- This is actually adding onto the previous point, and more-so of why the previous point even matters.
Listen, I haven’t done any shrooms/LSD in quite some time and I don’t really like weed, but I prefer to live in a place that is accepting of other people’s decisions. The fact that the police could throw you in jail (which has happened to a friend) for holding a joint is absurd.
Again, I prefer to stay sober myself. But I don’t like to live somewhere where people that do these things will be judged, and potentially thrown in jail. It’s just ridiculous.
And that’s one of the big political things that turn me off here- if I do decide to have a joint for the rare special occasion, I’ll be quite paranoid of the police.
- Hospitals- I’ve had poor experiences with hospitals here. Thank God my ex and her family was with me in 2018 when I needed help in early 2018. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not saying the quality of care is that low quality because I definitely received quality treatment in some instances, it’s just that the system is so different to what I’m used to in the rest of the world. Even more important than that is the next point, language:
- Language – I love speaking what Bulgarian I can but I’m not fluent. This is a huge downside to living here or considering it as a home base. To navigate things such as immigration, hospital care, and other institutions I will certainly need the help of Bulgarian speakers until I become fluent.
I’d love to become fluent in another language but this requires many months worth of dedication and focus. Is this a sacrifice I’m willing to make? I don’t know yet. In the meantime this is a downside.
Perhaps even less apparent is the way my way of speaking English has changed. Me and another American friend that lives here have poked fun at each other for the way we speak English, as it has changed to become more simple, less grammatically correct, and more accented.
This isn’t bad until you hop on a sales call with a native American-English speakers and you ask them to work with you in a really sketchy way.
- Lack of optimal food, cafe, and people diversity. I guess this is more of a problem because of my perspective having lived in Asia and USA. Bulgarians (and many Europeans) don’t realize how bad the coffee scene is, and that’s of course because they have nothing else to compare it to. I’ve been spoiled particularly by my experiences in Asia, in which you can have all kinds of exotic flavors of coffee and fascinating methods of making it that simply do not exist in Europe (or potentially even USA!!!).
I wish I could have some authentic Mexican, or talk to a beautiful latina or Asian girl.
- Memories of a broken past. Finally, the biggest personal downside for me is simply the fact that I’ve over-exaggerated how amazing Bulgaria is primarily because of a deeply passionate relationship. Perhaps the heartbreak that I feel now is not the mourning over my ex, but mourning over the experience I had of Bulgaria before. It’s a lot different this time around.
One of my friends told me I need to get laid ASAP, so I’ve since re-committed to NoFAP (no masturbation) in order to give me the kick up my ass I need to talk to girls. I wrote a super-long blog post on the effects of it while in Asia, but I haven’t published it yet because it’ll make me sound very arrogant as I talk about all the girls I hooked up with and experiences I had on NoFAP (hint: there seems to be a type of “energy” thing that magnetizes girls to you when on NoFAP).
The Positives of Bulgaria
Now all this being said, there are some AMAZING positives to living in Bulgaria. Let’s cover them so this post can become a bit more balanced:
- Perfect location. No, literally. Bulgaria is the PERFECT base for exploring the world.
In Bulgaria you are a short flight away from Frankfurt, Germany which now has cheap one-way flights to even fucking Phoenix! It’s insane, it’s like $250-$300 USD one-way from Phoenix to Frankfurt or back. It’s now looking like I’d be less than $400 USD away from a flight back home whenever I wanted to see my family.
And closer to Bulgaria is the entirety of Europe, proximity to Africa, and closeness to Asia.
Living in Americas makes it extremely difficult to travel abroad excluding South America. I am personally more interested in Europe/Asia as well as the Northern African nations, so living in Bulgaria is the ULTIMATE base for travel experiences.
- Beautiful women. Why are people fat everywhere else in the world? It makes you unattractive to others AND feel worse about yourself. Bulgaria is one of the more authentic places in the world in that people have a grip on reality and do not promote things like “it’s okay to be fat.” That brings me to the next point…
- Brutal authenticity. You can expect people to tell you the fucking truth when it counts. One thing I LOVE about Bulgarians is they will speak the truth like a storm and annihilate anyone with absurd beliefs such as “it’s okay to be fat.”
Okay look I’m NOT saying we should fat-shame. That’s fucking wrong. I’m saying we need to encourage everyone to be their best selves, and that anything else (such as promoting an extremely unhealthy lifestyle) is pure absurdity.
I don’t want anyone to get caught up on me mentioning the fat thing. I’m just giving an example. Bulgarians are grounded in reality in general, and not too delusional or idealistic in the way they approach life.
Sometimes this can be a con, such as if you are unwilling to hear the truth, and it also acts as a con in the sense that they can be too pessimistic. But overall it tends to be more of a pro because people are intimate with the scary truths of reality.
- Nature. Oh my, Sofia is wonderful. It is in close proximity to a big mountain, tons of nearby nature, and Sofia is I believe the greenest Capital city in the EU in terms of land dedicated to parks. There are just so many natural parks which makes hanging out easy and fun!
- Walkability. It is easy to walk around the city, which is a big pro for staying fit. Commutes are short anywhere which is great as well and a huge factor in happiness. Walking is safer than riding a motorbike or driving a car as well, another huge pro. Surprisingly, it is also quiet at night, and the buildings are designed to be quiet so you do not get upset by hearing your neighbors play music or something like this. This leads to the next pro:
- Social life. It’s very easy to stay connected with people when everything is close. It’s also nice meeting friends on the streets. Though this also has a hidden downside because it also means you can meet people you don’t want to meet (which has happened).
This is a net positive overall though!
I’m trying to face it as objectively as possible and not let my emotions guide me. When it comes to picking a home base, there are three things which are important:
- Daily routine
- Long-term goal development
Your daily routine is how you live on a day-to-day basis, long-term goal development is whether the place serves you long-term, and intuition is of course important because your subconscious is wiser than your conscious can ever be.
As much as I loved Chiang Mai and Thailand, some of the downsides such as the political climate were definitely a turn off. Not to mention that you’d get thrown in jail for something as small as weed. It’s ridiculous.
It’s interesting to see how now I’ve matured and I’m less inclined to live in politically unstable countries and places where the police are more military-like, or in which you have less rights as an individual.
I suppose having in-person experiences in which my rights were different, such as the police checkpoints in Chiang Mai or getting surprise-searched in Sofia really changed my perspective on the world and the values I have in a place where I live.
Overall Thoughts So Far
Perhaps I came back to Bulgaria subconsciously expecting a lot more social fulfillment than what the reality of the situation was.
When I am with friends or at a party, I often feel amazing, but then when alone I am quick to suffer from feelings of neurosis, loneliness, anger, and heart-break. At least in Thailand I felt comfortable being alone, and while I was not completely socially fulfilled there either (primarily due to the disconnect with the local culture) I definitely felt better (perhaps it was the girls).
There was one day in which I didn’t feel the hole inside of me, and that was the day I met with my ex. Even without kisses, I had my hit of a dangerous drug.
To be quite honest, it feels often that there is something missing here. More importantly it feels that my vibe is less powerful.
The reality of the situation is not so glamorous. It’s just another place, and I might actually benefit more from living elsewhere.
The question I’m trying to answer is this: is my pain some subconscious pain that I had ran away from, and needed to deal with, or is the pain like me hitting a scar that needs to be healed?
There has been evidence from both sides, as suggested by various friends, but the reality of the situation is not yet entirely clear. I am beginning to intuit that perhaps “Bulgaria” became infused in my mind with my old flame, and so in being here I am actually searching for something which Bulgaria itself can’t actually provide.
We’ll see as I start to more seriously hit the dating & social scene and get out of my work-a-holic phase I temporarily went through.
In short, I miss Thailand, I miss the USA, and I’m beginning to feel more and more like Bulgaria may not be the place for me. There are pros n’ cons everywhere, and one thing that is a huge con here is the pain I feel surrounding the memories of the previous flame I had here.
Those memories can’t ever come back to reality. Boundaries have been crossed, and it seems she has moved on more than I have. Well, it feels more like I took a step back in coming back here to Bulgaria.
Ultimately I came here to experience the true reality of Bulgaria. It seems not to be as positive as I recall it to be. While I did truly enjoy it in my last month (even though I was single and recently heartbroken), that was a different time and those friends have left and I have changed as I lived in Thailand and Southeast Asia.
Stay tuned for Part II, titled “flirting with the American Southwest.”