I’m finding it hard to comprehend the last two days of my life. I don’t really know how to think about it let alone write about it. When I had this problem with essays at university I would organise everything by subheadings to help me figure it out. So that’s what I’m going to do now:
Meadows in the Mountains:
On stage is a trio of English rappers dressed like sexy Aztecs. They’re loquaciously rapping about ancient Egypt and some drugs I’ve never heard of. The beats are esoteric and topped with samples from 1950s soul singers. I’m dancing on a wooden platform under a treehouse exhuming a gale of pure hash. Two french girls are next to me, one called Honey Vader and the other wrapped tightly by a glittered golden leotard. I feel like I’ve never moved with more freedom or creativity in my life. Under us, on a field of slushy mud, is a man dressed as Aladdin. He’s eyes are red with pupils like fresh tar. It’s unclear wether he’s dancing or having hallucinatory sex. Next to him is couple of guys in tights making out with a spliff in their conjoined mouth, it’s washing from side to side with the movement of their tongue lashings. After a while it falls out and they stop making out to dance.
This is a crazy place.
Meadows in the mountains is the most drug drenched place on Earth. Every psychedelic, energetic and horny whatever is available and abundant. This is a conversation I overheard from some bearded Brits wearing straw caps.
“Mate, I’ve run out of pills. Have you got any?”
“Na but they’ve ordered 2000.”
“Isn’t there only 600 people at this festival?”
At one point the festival ran out of ketamine. Some party goers got upset that they couldn’t k-hole for the night so some entrepreneurial fellow got a bunch of Bulgarian blokes to bake another batch in their village ovens.
Pretty much everyone was fucked for three days straight. Sure there were some sober people, like myself, but the aggregate level of fucked upedness was so high and infectious we may as well have been. At some other festivals this amount of drug saturation can be pretty unpleasant because all the dickheads loose whatever small amount of control they had over their desire to grope and fight. Meadows in the mountains didn’t seem to have any dickheads. Everyone was just really chilled and in love with what was going on. I guess that’s an advantage of hosting a festival in a tiny Bulgarian mountain village.
I can’t say that much about the festival site itself because I never went during the day. All I know is that it sits in a forest clearing on the top of a mountain. There are two stages, two bars, some overpriced but nice food, a screen showing World Cup games and a giant and perpetual bonfire smack in the middle.
The music itself was pretty eclectic. During the day they had bands with guitars and singing. As the sun retreated the music became less classifiable and more party. By 2 or 4am it was either house or thick and heavy boom boom boom, bam bam stuff. It didn’t really matter what was on though, it’s the most intoxicated crowd on the planet, of course everyone’s gonna be dancing.
A really, really excellent festival.
Honey Vader and Selena are from two very different and very unconnected places in my life. Seeing them together at a music festival in a Bulgarian mountain village was totally fucking weird and very, very wonderful.
That’s the house we stayed in – about 20 of us in total. It’s 200 years old and used to be full of cows and shit but now it’s a festival getaway run by an eccentric and loveable couple, Lidia and Peter. Peter, an ambiguously aged Englishman, cooked us breakfast and made us doughnuts while Lidia, looks and acts like the mums of all my greek friends, sorted out our shit when we were less than capable. Apparently she drove around the festival at 4am looking for other zombified stragglers to help.
We spent the day hiking in the mountains, eating Bulgarian food and listening to Lidia’s stories about communist Bulgaria and her porn loving dog. At night we’d suit up and dance until sunset. At some point I think we managed some sleep.
Spectacular. If I was the editor of a home and travel magazine I would give it second place in the most picturesque country town competition – not because it doesn’t deserve to win but because I wouldn’t want it ruined by years of trampling by voracious hoards of middle aged tourists armed with binoculars and vogue magazines.
Most of the village sits at the bottom of a valley around a trickley river, the rest, mostly farms, reach up the side of the mountain. It’s only a small place (doesn’t have a wiki page) so for most of the day the tracksuited and horse pulling locals are in equal numbers with feathered and glittered festival goers. If it wasn’t for the festival population I would have felt like a time traveller. The farm buildings, stone, blocky, weathered and occasionally dilapidated, were tended by horse drawn carts and men in those hats that golfers sometimes wear. In the village square young men and women sell ornamented bells, tomatoes and peppers out of trucks or carts. After our walk in the forest I saw a woman smothered in Orthodox robes, her face so wrinkled it was hard to make out where one feature started and one ended. We got home to see some of our friends relaxing shirtless by the pool while some pop blared out of the third story window – they were casually watching a thin old Bulgarian man hoe his field of cabbages. What did this old man think of the festival? I’m so curious.
It was totally weird.
The festival site food was pretty much what you would expect with the addition of a tattooed young Bulgarian guy grilling local meat. In town there was one supermarket and a restaurant selling chips and salads. Pretty fucking average. My bus companions, the newly wed and the action hero, had told me about some mountain specialities and I really wanted to try them. I asked the supermarket worker, a tall guy with enthusiastically bad english, where I could get some. He told me to go to the salad and chips place.
“They will make you some.” He said grinning. He then gave my back a big slap as if we were two athletes and I had just won a silver.
The restaurant menu looked like this.
I asked the woman if she could make the dishes I’d been told about.
“No we have to prepare those a day in advance.”
“Do you have anything Bulgarian?”
Pointing at the menu – “We have only have this for the festival.”
“We know Englishmen like chips and eggs.” I hate it when this happens. It’s just like when people refuse to put chilli in my meal because I’m a westerner.
“Is there anything else you can make.” I named some of the other things I’d been told about.
“Hold on one second.”
She went back to the kitchen to consult the chef. 20 minutes later we received a bowl of terator (a sour yoghurt soup with cucumber), a plate of patatnik (like a big hash brown cooked with lots of taragon and cheese) and some perjola (spiced grilled chicken).