#ДАНСwithme | Sofia, Bulgaria

dancewithmeEvery single evening, for the past 17 days, thousands of Bulgarians have been going out on the streets in protest. Their indignation was originally sparked by the newly-elected government’s appointment of a well-known oligarch and media mogul with shady but seemingly well-established links to the mafia as chief of the State Agency for National Security*. After his appointment was quickly retracted, the public outrage did not just end but continued and grew into widespread demands – with nightly and more recently, morning and day-time protests, for the government to resign, which it seems to be ignoring.

Being away from Sofia while all this is taking place has been hard and not a little frustrating, but I’ve been trying to follow these momentous developments from afar, via official reports in the Bulgarian media, as well as friends’ updates on facebook and twitter. (A big thanks goes out to my friend Kati for sending me this post’s picture!) It’s also been quite frustrating to notice the international media’s almost non-existent interest in reporting on the Bulgarian protests (which Petya Kirilova-Grady explains eloquently in this piece), although they seem to be slowly catching on (as this article in the New York Times testifies).

I don’t feel really qualified to analyze the reasons people are protesting, or to predict the possible outcomes of this wave of publicly and unwaveringly demonstrated dissatisfaction, but – as I read and think about all this, I keep being reminded of something my friend Yana wrote about (and I summarized in English here) more than a year ago – about the difficult choice that many Bulgarian have made to stay and live in Bulgaria, while it continues to be a place where “many things have not changed: the mafia guys, the insolent politicians, the absurd outrages (as much as you might fight against them), the sell-out media, the apathy, the baseness, the envy, the hate, the ocean of fools and losers that splashes right under your window.” It now occurs to me that the incidents that sparked the street marches are just symptoms of a situation that not only remains unchanged but seems to be getting worse and that for many of the people on the street, these protests must be the latest and possibly the last attempt to transform Bulgaria into a place where one could live normally and with dignity.

*The Bulgarian abbreviation of the agency’s name is ДАНС – pronounced ‘DANCE’, which gave birth to the clever hash tag #ДАНСwith me, used as a tag for movement not just in social media but also in its overall identity.

Slavka’s Over-arching: West Coast Love | California and Oregon, USA

My lovely and inspiring friend Slavka is not only my constant and gracious host in Barcelona but she’s also a great teller of stories and – I’m happy to say, she’s become a kind of regular contributor to this blog.

Her latest installment of photos is from her trip around the West Coast of the US this summer and it’s a true feast for the senses, if I ever saw one. Thank you, Slavi! :)

Ornithology-obsessed, lovely Sacramento airport.

Good morning, San Francisco!: white fire escape flirting in white nightgown. Marie’s apartment building.

Pavement patchwork love: Ocean Beach, San Diego

The chasing game: Pacific waves in San Francisco and Oregon.

B(L)EACHED DAYS: The white sun of South California

Hollywood Blvd Walk of Fame: Superman Love and an unsung Yellow Superhero

No Dumping: Prosaic Reminders in LA and Poetic Ones in SF.

1920’s San Francisco: Madame Marie plasters her name all over a property that she was denied legal ownership of, out of fear it’ll turn into a brothel.

***This post is the fourth and final one from a week-long series of photos from around the world, sent by friends and family, and part of The Ground beneath their feet series.***

Mayon swims in the ocean, cilmbs mango trees and walks on “jamblons” | Réunion, France / Africa

Last May, Mayon sent me a few photos from Réunion Island, which – as I learned when I met her, is located in the Indian Ocean, off the East coast of Madagascar (but is actually a part of France). The images and her comments are really making me want to go there….

“Here, we’re in “winter” (like 22 degrees in the night), and it’s still hot, and we’re still going to the beach, yeah !!!! Like always I would say! At Saint Leu, Reunion Island! White & Black sand!”

“Toma&Me on a mango tree at Manirou!”

“Toma, the twins, & me! And.. lots of ‘jamblons’ on the ground ;-) Maniron, Reunion Island!”

… so, Réunion has now been added to my long list of places to visit.

***This post is the third from a week-long series of friends’ photos from around the world and part of The Ground beneath their feet series.***

Like mother, like daughter | Kuwait, Kuwait

I love these two photos that my mom recently sent me from Kuwait:

The first, because of how surreal the image looks of her feet standing over a map of the city and the Gulf …

…and the second, because of the nicely captured correspondence of shapes and colors and the reflections on the car’s hood.

***This post is the second from a week-long series of photos from around the world, sent by friends and family, and part of The Ground beneath their feet series.***

Gaby goes on the Camino de Santiago | Logroño, Spain

Earlier this fall, my friend Gaby walked along the ancient pilgrimage route, Camino de Santiago, and she sent me this photo from Logroño – the capital of La Rioja, which she says has “great wine and tapas (as well as being a lovely city)….”

So, I’m making a note to go and visit when I get the chance.

***This post is the first from a week-long series of friends’ photos from around the world and part of The Ground beneath their feet series.***


The ground beneath *their* feet | Around the world in a week

It’s been a little quiet around here lately, but this week, brace yourselves for a vicarious trip around the world. In other words, it’s time for several new installments in the Ground beneath their feet series, thanks to some lovely friends and family who’ve been sending in photos from exciting places.

Every day, I’ll be publishing a post from a different continent – Africa, Europe, North America and Asia [links will be activated as posts go up]. I might even throw in a Wordless Wednesday. So, stay tuned!

Where John, Paul, Ringo and George walked (and ate and drank) | Arachova, Greece

My cool and funny friend Madlen recently sent me this photo and I am excited to add it to The ground beneath their feet series of guest posts by friends.

The photo was taken in Arachova – a small mountain town on the north slopes of Mount Parnassos in the southern part of Greece, where Madlen went for what – she says, was the best double-birthday celebration in her life so far (Happy belated birthday, Madlen!!!).

There are a few interesting facts about the place: it is close to Delphi, the beaches of Antikira and the Parnassus ski resorts; its name comes from the Slavic word for walnut – oreh, and although there are many walnut trees in the area, Arachova is known for the production of olives, formaella – a traditional cheese that is sold only there and the grappa-like liquor tsipouro.

But all of these details pale in comparison to the fact that, in 1967, the Beatles visited Arahova – an event that its residents won’t let any visitor forget, judging – as Madlen pointed out, by the photos of the visit that still hang conspicuously in every little shop in the town. Apparently, Ringo was a fan of tsipouro, while Paul really enjoyed the formaella cheese. (As, by the way, did Madlen.)

Leftist tendencies, part 2 | London, England

Recently, I wrote about the negative connotations of the word ‘left’ and how the French word gauche (‘left’) is adopted into English to mean clumsy, awkward, maladroit, ungainly, gawky and unhandy.

Today, I received a series of pictures from my insanely funny friends Slavka and Austin in London, in which they not only stand over one of the city’s ubiquitous crossing signs, but also manage to perfectly illustrate this latter meaning of the word.

Slavka**: Pink traces | New York City, US of A

Yellow and pink confetti litter the streets on January 1, following New Year Eve's celebrations. By Monday, they would all be gone, restoring the pavement to its habitual greyness.

End-the-Fed stencil, following last fall's Occupy Wall Street in Manhattan's Financial District. The pink paint is a reminder of the road works and construction undergone by the neighborhood last summer. Both will be gone before too long.

**This is part of a week-long series of photographs sent in by friends standing on, over or above exciting places and grounds around the world**

Mayon**: Snow | “Somewhere in the Pyrénées”, France

Marion, standing in the snow with Adeline and Emeric, sent me a little “clin d’oeil” (wink!) from “quelque part dans les Pyrénées”

**This is part of a week-long series of photographs sent in by friends standing on, over or above exciting places and grounds around the world**