– About the Book

A Breeze in Bulgaria, book cover

A fresh breeze blowing through a classroom window on a sweltering summer day.

“Bulgaria? Uh, yeah, sure. I met a girl from Bulgaria once. Or was it Bolivia? Nice girl…”

Eastern Europe. Bulgaria. Can you find it on a map? Easy, right there above Greece. But what’s it like there? That’s more complex. Beautiful mountains, fertile fields and old Soviet-era apartment bloks. Ancient ruins, tired cities, intricate music and folk dances. Scattered remnants of the old industry struggle for survival, glimmers of hope among rusty abandoned factories.

“Grim, huh?”

No, that’s not it! More like awakening. Exciting. Big changes going on. Stirring, sweeping changes. New ways of thinking, new opportunities. School hallways ring with the laughter of bright-eyed, eager children, and young people go to discos and wear fashionable clothes, drinking coffee in sidewalk cafés for hours, exploring ideas. Baba selling corn from street cart in Pazardjik, BulgariaAll around them, politically and economically there is tumult and change. Everywhere there are entrepreneurs in a newly free society with apples and cabbages for sale from a cart or a table by the sidewalk. Democracy too, with whatever that will bring. Determination and hard work define what is needed in everyday life.

“So, what’s in the book?”

This Peace Corps memoir is about people. Strange customs, unfamiliar assumptions and ways of thinking, austerity and living close to the earth, sure, but really about people. Friends and neighbors who loved their country and its proud heritage, and were sometimes a little sensitive about its place in the world. Warm-hearted, generous, curious, practical people.

Bulgarian revolutionary hero Hristo BotevHardy and resilient, the Bulgarians traced their history back to the fair Thracians, then through the Roman and Byzantine empires, and the powerful Slavs. Then the Ottoman Empire, “five hundred years under the Turkish yoke,” finally ended by Heroes of the Revolution, reverently remembered.

And it’s a love story. The volunteers’ own story had a dramatic turn of events, one that took determination and hard work to overcome. The heroes of this story are many, and courage is proved in adversity.

A Breeze in Bulgaria is available as an eBook. The print edition is sold out but is sometimes available from resellers (see Print Edition).

Historical location Assenova, Bulgaria Horse-drawn carts are still a common sight in Bulgaria. This one is in Panagyurishte. View of Panagurishte, Bulgaria from soviet-era monument on hilltop View of sunflower fields from train to Straldja, Bulgaria 020710 Panagurishte (11).jpg Soviet-era monument to Bulgarian revolutionary heroes in 1876 Uprising, Panagyurishte, Bulgaria Bulgaria, winter: stork's nest waiting for spring Bulgaria, Roman amphitheater in Plovdiv. Plovdiv was known as Philippopolis in the Byzantine era.

About the Author:

Bruce McDonald was an Air Force pilot, then an international subcontract negotiator for an aircraft manufacturer. After his years in industry he asked the question, “What next?” The answer, for him and his wife together, was the Peace Corps. As it always does, the Peace Corps enriched their lives beyond measure.

Recent Posts

Kindness

I met Piper Beatty through a shared connection with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, an organization that has been saving lives for decades. She has since added a new last name and initials, becoming Piper Beatty Welsh, J.D., M.P.A. She is a highly respected advocate for CF research, and a survivor of that disease and cancer, as well as lung transplants. Now, since COVID-19 is ravaging the world, and we are all essential in defeating it, of course she has joined that effort too.

What can kindness do for you?

Piper wrote this essay as a post on Facebook, and I asked her if I could share it. It ties in with an article that had been on my mind recently, which will be a good read after absorbing what Piper has to say on the subject. There is a link to it following Piper’s article. 1

Guest Blog Article by Piper Beatty Welsh

I think all of us are (at our own pace) coming to grips with the fact that this coronavirus pandemic is going to be a phase of life rather than an open-and-shut experience. Our national imagery about this to date has been warlike: here is the enemy, now go win the battle. And now, 4 months into 2020 and 2 months into known and acknowledged US community spread, we are most likely about to embark on a national reimagining. Some changes (like the gradual relaxing of stay-at-home orders and reopening of public spaces) may be short(er)-term goals. Others (like a return to “normal” for things like assisted living centers or huge public celebrations, and maybe even international travel) may well feel much more drawn out. And some (increased awareness of infection control?) may even last forever. Right now we just don’t know.

This is going to be frustrating. It is going to feel too slow for some, too fast for others. It is going to be uncomfortable. It may cause pain and heartache beyond what has already happened. It may bring new opportunities for joy. One thing is for certain:

It NEEDS to be kind.

Friends, we have a national election in less than 9 months. Even in the best of times, 2020 was probably going to feel divided. I am urging those I love not to put aside their political convictions (anyone who knows me knows I would never), but to not let these things stand in the way of genuine empathy for our fellow human beings during an already uncertain time. Ask yourself seriously: is my saying this going to contribute to real, productive dialogue and is it important to say right now? I can’t answer those for you, and I wouldn’t presume to try, but I am going to try and hold myself and my own comments to that standard.

We can love each other through an awful lot, I promise. And to the extent we cannot, I hope to God we can still be kind.

_________________________

  1. Why being kind could help you live longer BBC News, November 11 2019
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