Gyrne Turkish Cyprus
Belfast Northern Ireland
Back Home in California
Greetings from Sofia Bulgaria,
"When life deals you a lemon, there is only one thing to do: Make Lemonade!" So, when I found myself unintentionally back in Istanbul after my unceremonious departure from Uzbekistan, I decided to see what people were thinking on the Slavic side of the Kosavo conflict. At the moment I am in Sofia Bulgaria and heading over to Skopje Macedonia tomorrow.
The train I took from Istanbul to Sofia continued on to Belgrade Yugoslavia! The railroad official with whom I spoke said "NO PROBLEM" when asked about the NATO bombing in Yugoslavia! If I really want to hear the Serb side of the controversy, I guess that would be the best place to nose around. Well... that is a decision for another day.
Today is the First of May; Labor Day in most former Communist countries, including Bulgaria. This morning I joined tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of Bulgarians march for peace. Everyone seemed to be in a holiday mood: laughing and chanting all at once. As one flag waving group slowly walked near where I stood on the sidewalk, a couple motioned for me to join them as they chanted something in Bulgarian that sounded like "nah tah oo bee sea," repeated over and over again... interspersed with several other longer and harder to pronounce phrases. As I strolled along with them for about a block, someone handed me a small red flag containing an imperial looking emblem on the upper inside corner.
After a while I bid my new Bulgarian friends good bye, returned the flag and stepped back onto the crowded sidewalk, just as another group carrying a sign in English reading: "Stop the war. NATO go home" came into sight. People around the man carrying the sign were chanting "nah tah G'hom." Later in the day while looking for an Internet Cafe, a guy in a computer store who spoke pretty good English told me smiling all the while that "oo bee sea" translates from Bulgarian to English as "Killers." So, I had been walking with my fellow peaceniks as they yelled "NATO Killers." Well... at least we all shared the same wishes for peace.
This massive demonstration against the war and NATO actions in particular is in sharp contrast to others' lack of much interest in what is happening in Kosavo. I heard comments suggesting that most Bulgarians see the problems in Yugoslavia as a civil war and that the Serbian terrorist tactics are merely inappropriately severe retaliation for years of Kosavo Albanian terrorist actions against Serbs, actions designed by them to promote Kosavo independence. In their views, what is happening in Yugoslavia is an internal problem that doesn't concern them, nor anyone else. So, NATO actions are an unwarranted intervention in a private Yugoslav matter.
"What about the Serbian atrocities against the Kosavo Muslims... the ethnic cleansing?" I asked.
"They had it coming for even worse things they did to the Serbian minorities." WOW! Everyone sees a different truth. I am still processing all this new information, but one thing is crystal clear: truth and ethics are relative. More than one person has told me they resent the Americans thinking they always know what is best for the rest of the world. Hmm... Can I ever make any sense of all this? Can anyone? I don't know at this moment, though I am thinking hard about all I have seen and heard.
yes. Sofia is a beautiful tourist town. It reminds me a lot of Santa
Barbara; happy friendly people, clean pleasant streets, countless street
cafes, etc. A nice salad lunch cost me the enormous price of about 2.10.
The bus ticket to Skopje costs $10. This hour of Internet access costs $1.75.
You will find the picture part of this picture postcard HERE.
The next card should be from Yugoslavia, Romania, or Russia... I think.
Fred L Bellomy