Кърджали, България / Kardzhali, Bulgaria
About a month ago I went on a day trip with my friend Иван Чакаров (Ivan Chakarov) to the south-central Bulgarian city Кърджали (Kardzhali), which is about a 95 km bus ride from Plovdiv and which lies about 60 km north of the border with Greece.
I was on a quest to find another Bulgarian friend I knew from my mission in Germany who I'd lost contact with. (Keeping in touch with people who moved around in the pre-Internet era was not easy!) This friend had long lived in Kardzhali and said it was a beautiful place he planned to go back to. The chance we would find him 22 years later was small, but it was worth a try and was a good reason to go see a different part of Bulgaria in the Rhodope mountains.
We came close to finding him. We found his old apartment and people who knew him, and he supposedly still lives in Kardzhali. But after much trying, we were not able to find him. The journey was interesting and mostly fun, and we got to see the river, city, suburbs, memorials, forest, park, cemetery, and a neighboring village (Сипей) with cows and goats. And we met some helpful and friendly people along the way.