Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Quiet Time At The Monastery

It’s 7:55 a.m. and I’m sitting in the common room thinking of the days ahead.  Bulgarian radio is on, and right now Offspring’s Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) is playing.   I just finished eating breakfast—a half grapefruit and bowl of instant oatmeal—and now I have to pack my backpack for my trip to the monastery this morning.

View from hostel's common room window

Back in the States I saw a Rick Steves’ DVD called Surprising Bulgaria.  It featured the Rila Monastery, a UNESCO heritage site, located about two hours away from where I am right now.   It’s going to take some doing to get there on my own; outside of the usual group tour, that is.  In about an hour I am to board tram number 5 outside the hostel, go nine stops to the bus station, then take a bus to the town of Rila.  Yet another bus will bring me to the monastery. 

I’m a little worried because my Spanish friends who rented a car and drove to the monastery a few days back told me the road is really bad, like potholes, windy mountains, and crazy drivers.  They had a tire blow on a large stone just outside the monastery, but everyone was okay.  Later I told my Italian roommates the Spanish friends’ story before they left in their rental car for the monastery yesterday.  I didn't want to alarm them, but I thought they should know to be careful.  I didn’t see them before I went to bed last night.  I hope they’re okay.

Of course I still plan to go, because once I get something in my mind, it’s hard for me to change course.  I can sometimes be inflexible this way.  Plus, I’m sure it will be fine.  The bus goes to the monastery every single day carrying tourists, and I haven’t heard of any tragedies.  (I've asked.)  Oh yeah, and just to prepare you, you won’t be hearing from me until at least Saturday, because there’s no wi-fi at the monastery. 

Most people make the Rila Monastery a day trip from Sofia, but I’ve decided to stay there in order to reflect on some stuff.  I booked three nights, which is the maximum one can stay.  I heard there’s hot water now, and I may be getting one of the heated rooms.  I read there’s a 5 p.m. curfew, which is fine, because frankly I need the quiet time.

And now it seems like an appropriate time to make a confession—though I think many of you have figured this out already.  I haven’t made the kind of progress I intended to make on my book.  I plan to have a long talk with myself about “getting serious” in between thinking about the meaning of life and my place in the universe.  I think I'm going to be having some real breakthroughs.

Uh oh, time for coffee and a little Today Show.  It's hard to believe I'm going to be without Charlie Sheen news for three full days.  

More soon, I hope.  I know, I shouldn't joke like that!