Category Archives: Travel + Leisure

Getting Rila

May 2006

I was riding my mountain bike down a steep path into a wooded gorge. Niki Titev, a member of the Bulgarian national mountain biking team, was, predictably, far ahead of me when a woman emerged from the woods at the side of the trail. I stopped and smiled. Clad in a head scarf, her hands stained purple from picking blueberries, Nedjibe was a Pomak—a part of the Bulgarian Muslim minority. When I asked whether I could take her picture, she shook her head back and forth in the charmingly confusing Bulgarian gesture for yes.

While Titev comes to Rila to bomb down the ski runs at Borovets, Nedjibe comes to gather berries and fatten her sheep in the high summer meadows. Across a gulf of centuries, they have these mountains in common. (more…)

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