– 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

Well, That Was 2021

Remember looking forward to 2021?

Remember nearing the end of 2020, that terrible year, that pandemic? Boy, were we looking forward to all that mess being over! We were saying “Yay, a new year! 2021, new beginnings!” 


Yeah, right.

The virus. It’s still here, and actually worse in a way. They say it’s easier to catch than last year’s version, and although it’s weaker it’s still potent enough to be crowding the hospitals again. It’s hard not to give in to the feeling of futility, isn’t it? I still have hope, though, that we will prevail. I believed at the outset that if we worked together we would make it go away. 1

That may still turn out to be so in 2022, but it sure didn’t happen in 2021. If the elusive “herd immunity” is to be reached it will be by the combination of those who got the shot and those who refused but will contribute the hard way, by getting sick and recovering. The pandemic will soon turn endemic, something we live with like colds and the flu. Like with colds and the flu, we will be less likely to catch it if we wash our hands and keep them off our faces, cover our sneezes, and (close your eyes to read this if you can’t stand the thought) wear a mask in crowded places. Another thing contributes to my feeling of hopefulness, though:

I see good people.

I see them everywhere. I have a family of good people. I live in a neighborhood of good people. I work with good people. Some of the good people I know don’t believe the same things I do, about all kinds of topics including that pandemic. They’re still good people.

Good people. They’re everywhere.

The best thing about being human
Is not the great things we can do
We might think we’re pretty terrific
But living alone makes us blue.

It’s living and working together
That makes a community work
With kindness and love for each other
(Except the occasional jerk.)

It’s not just the way we pursue things
In search of success and for gold
Or wanting more money than others,
An empty pursuit so I’m told.

It’s caring and kindness that does it
Together we will make it through
With generous care and good laughter
And loving is part of it too.

Wherever we look there is goodness
As long as we’re open to see
The good that often lies hidden
In people just like you and me.


 

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