I’ve had a lot of fun to myself these days since the thought occurred to me that even I have something in common with Nicole Kidman. Apart from a man in my past who fancied her in his dreams and me in reality, the other thing we have in common is that we’ve both stood in front of Stasy Kara’s camera and microphone. And what is it that connects me and Stasy? Now that I come to think of it, nothing but fun and memorable moments.
Mama española en Bulgaria is a blog which is a pleasure to follow. The girl behind it is a mother of two children from Spain who shares her impressions of our country, often comparing them to how things are in Barcelona. Despite being written in the Spanish language, the blog is gathering more and more popularity in Bulgaria too, which proves to be something strange and unexpected for its author. The probable cause of this is the fun opportunity which she gives us to see a side-on view of ourselves and to laugh out loud about stuff from our everyday lives which we’re so used to that it doesn’t even occur to us how strange these things might seem to someone on the outside. Apart from that, Marta often writes about things she likes really very much in Bulgaria and which made her stay here. So, who exactly is this Marta?
I got to know Nicolas about a year ago. We worked together really only very briefly. Just long enough for me to realise that he isn’t actually from Spain, but from Argentina, that he has a special attitude towards reading and writing as well as the fact that he really missed Mate tea in Sofia. I invited him to this blog even before it existed and Nicolas entrusted me with total confidence and responded without even knowing what exactly he was getting into. We managed to make the ‘conversation over a Yerba Mate’ happen after dozens of delays and having to hunt down the most authentic possible gourds and straws. In the end we managed to get it done just before he moved to live in Brussels. I think we’ll see him here again, though, because I had the constant feeling that Nico really likes Sofia.
Аssen is one of the most precious things I’ve inherited from the Spanish High School. A truly dear person to me, whom I’ve been proud to call ‘friend’ for 20 years already. We’re linked by one of those undemanding friendships in which communication can come to a standstill for a year or two after which we meet and share our most coveted secrets just as if we’d never parted for a moment. Currently he has established himself in a U.S. university where he teaches Spanish language to students specialising in ‘Latin American Literature and Culture’; he travels, publishes, researches the connections between cinema, literature and sexuality in the countries of the southern hemisphere and he does all this with incredible ease but also with great passion, which he transmits to his students and friends. Here I share a conversation about his journey from the Spanish High School to the bookshops of Buenos Aires and in general about some of the things we love and which connect us.
We quickly discovered a common language with the Brazilian Tadeu Bianconi, a melodic mixture of Spanish and Portuguese. What also connects us is the way in which he sees Latin America. For me what was valuable in his exhibition was that I saw his ‘map of the look’, the look of a person who is from there, of a person who lives, sees, feels and perceives like the people he is photographing.
(FROM MY CONVERSATION WITH HIM):
These pictures were taken in the course of various journeys of mine, some for leisure, some for work. In Guatemala, for example, I was there for work, but the photos I was sent there for were supposed to be in colour. The ones you see here were done in my free time. In Guatemala it was really nice, I really feel like going back there some day. Overall, I’d really like to resume my travels in Latin America.
Miriam is from Mexico but lives here in Sofia. She gladly responded to my invitation to be a guest on this blog and opened the doors of her home to me, something which is very personal and which I immensely appreciate. Our meeting began with this conversation, after which we carried on chatting about countless topics in her kitchen and this unforgettable morning on which I had the feeling that I was in Mexico concluded with the preparation and consumption of a magical Mexican taco.
Miriam, many, many thanks to you for acquainting me in a single day with the colours, flavours and aromas of Mexico.
This is part of my meeting with her: Miriam and her home:
Cuba. So full of contradictions and difficult to understand. Every single one of the elegant buildings in Havana has peeling facades. The air on the renowned coastal boulevard, Malecón is saturated not only with iodine vapours in the morning but also with saltpetre. (See ‘Dirty Havana Trilogy’ by Pedro Juan Gutiérrez publ. by Faber & Faber). Cuban women are incredible mothers because they breastfeed their children until the age of 6, but isn’t it just that they do it to be able to use the milk they’re due from their book of coupons? It’s hard to say. About one thing, though, there can be no doubt: the Cuban education system is of a very high standard and the complex of National Arts Schools in Havana (Las Escuelas de Arte de la Habana), apart from the fact that it’s recognised as an architectural masterpiece of the 20th century, is one of the Cuban Revolutionary Government’s successful projects. It has become a touchstone for education in the field of the arts. Irenia Vazquez also studied there and now she lives in Sofia. Music is her element. Every time I hear her performing live, an idyllic image floats up in my head, which for me is synonymous with the Cuban fiesta-someone puts on music at home, can’t hold back and starts to sing, along come the neighbours, they end up out on the street, the whole neighbourhood joins in the party, it goes on until morning. I’m not sure whether this isn’t the scenario of some film I’ve watched a really long time ago or just a naive idea born of my short encounter with late-period communism in Bulgaria, but this image is very vivid in my consciousness. Irenia herself brings it alive too. I met up with her one morning in the Music High School in Sofia. In response to my request for her to play a little on one of the pianos in the corridors for me to take a quick photo of her, we were given access to a concert hall, they lit up the stage spotlights and let us position ourselves in front of the biggest grand piano in the building. Irenia started to play with incredibly fast fingers, a fantastic mood pervaded the hall and people started to peep in through the windows.
He is a Basque, a Spaniard, a European, a true cosmopolitan. He has lived and worked in various cities in the world. We first met each other in New York without suspecting that after several years we would work together, here in Sofia. He’s been in our country since September of last year as the Director of the Cervantes Institute, the Spanish cultural and language centre. He has brought with him the ambition of the American spirit, the subtle finesse of the European soul and the curiosity of the explorer. We met one Sunday in the Doctor’s Garden, a favourite place for us both. He was with the smallest girl in his family, namely the mischievous Jack Russell terrier, Mina. I asked him about various things which I’d long been curious to find out regarding him. Here is the whole of our conversation with Javier Valdivielso.
Zdravko and Angel can, with just a few words, make you feel, taste and sense the real Central America, a place where people don’t hurry, they smile, they help you(if you speak to them in Spanish) and they still communicate with each other, personally and from the heart.
They shared their impressions of each day of their one-month trip around Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize and El Salvador (here and here), and now they add even more colour by answering my questions.