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Stage Twenty Seven - Sunday 24th June 2012


Sean Barker

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Zimnicea (ROM) to God knows where (Bul)

It was a late start as the ferry crossing was at 11:30am and I rode today at a gentle pace due to my delicate state.

I’m well off my intended course and completely lost. Finding my way around this part of Bulgaria is no easy thing, all the signs are in their own unique script and impossible for me to read or pronounce. All I can really do is keep on a southeast heading until I hit either the Black Sea or Turkey.

This evening has been nothing short of nerve-wracking.

I stopped around 5:30 and saw an entrance leading into a field of sunflowers. I followed the edge of the field between the flowers and the hedgerow in search a more secluded spot when I came upon a large clearing and a field full of marijuana plants. I was tired and hadn’t the energy to go much further so made camp by the edge of the plantation.

Shortly after I had cooked and eaten my meal two men in camouflaged combat gear with automatic weapons and three dogs approached me.

One spoke broken English, the other none at all. I was asked what I was doing here and I told them I was cycling to Istanbul. They were clearly suspicious and at that time seemed to me quite hostile. They talked to each other briefly, then the one who spoke English asked me “Do you know what these plants are?” I suddenly realised that the answers I would give could well determine my immediate future. I needed to gain their trust.

I said “Yes they are marijuana plants”

I was then asked “Do you smoke it?”

To which I replied “Whenever I get the chance”

I was acutely aware that this crop was worth millions and my life here and now nothing. I needed to make these know that I was no threat to them or their business.

At this he smiled and sat down beside my tent and rolled a joint which he lit, puffed on it and passed it to me. I drew on it and inhaled deeply holding it in for a few seconds before exhaling. I repeated this once more and handed it to his friend.

We chatted for an indeterminable amount of time before they said they had to be going.

The English speaking man rolled another joint and gave it to me saying here is one for you for tomorrow.

It was only at that point did I feel confident that there would be a tomorrow for me.

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Making the crossing on the ferry from Romania to Bulgaria

P1000911.jpgThe Bulgarian road signs weren’t a big help, in the end I just used my compass and rode southeast until I hit the Black Sea

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Lost in Bulgaria

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