Thursday, January 19, 2006

The company I’m working left me the company rental car for the weekend, so I decided to take a little drive into the Bulgarian countryside.

I’d have liked to go visit some Pomak villages. The Pomaks are non-Turkish Bulgarian Muslim, so called because they were the “helpers” of the Ottomans, pomoc or something similar being the pan-Slavik word for “help”. The Pomaks are concentrated mainly down south in the Rodopi Mountains. A bit far for a one-day drive, so I checked out Rila Monastary in the Rila Mountains instead.

So I’m driving down the highway behind one of the big old lumbering buses, a staple of Eastern European road life. You know the ones, and if you don’t, you can imagine: they look like they’re about to fall apart.

So the bus is going super slow, and I’m angling to pass it, but as I’m doing so, something unexpected happened: It actually starts to fall apart.

A pumpkin-sized metal bus part, a gear or something, falls out of the underside of the bus -- *clink* -- and rolls right in front of my little renta-car.

It’s big enough to do some damage, but I don’t have time to swerve to avoid it, so the best I can do is avoid hitting it with one of the wheels. It catches on the underside of the car and clinks around for a bit before flying off.

I really thought that was the end of the trip, but I got out and did a cursory inspection of the vehicle. Looked fine. Drove fine. Went on my merry Balkan way.

I’ll be returning to my apartment in Cairo on Sunday night.


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