For some reason the festival in Almaty disconnected from the project and a bit without orientation I leave Sofia in the direction Black Sea. After not riding for two whole weeks I dont want to go all the way that day. The landscape is famous again, crossing the but I am too frutrated to make any images. When it is time for me to stop anywhere where I could camp for the night one sign appears: Motocamp! With a graphic of a motorcycle on it! Exactly in the middle of Bulgaria in the small village Idlievo!
While looking for it and of cause riding in the wrong direction, then turning back, someone stops me on the road. "You are looking for the Motocamp, right?" The real english accent tells me that he must be a Brit. "Over there through the village. See you in the evening."
At the gate, Doug, the owner, opens. In Alabama accent he welcomes me, and I figure right away that he is a real biker. Tall, pigtail in the back, mustache, some tattoos show up under the sleeves, but even more the language is connecting me back in the biker world. Within the first ten minutes my story, his story, my bike, his bike are introduced and I have a room. Since I ride a BMW I am put in the BMW room. They also have one Honda, one Yamaha and one Harley room and lots of camp ground. Doug rides Harley, a real one with which he was around the world. I saw many Harley riders and most have one just for the image of American freedom and ganghood. His bike has stile and shows that he lives what others just dream of. -Well, I still try to see all as brothers what sits on two turning wheels, image-harley or not. Also I always stop if there seems to be someone in trouble beside the road. Strangly it surprises the unlucky one sometimes, if I want to make sure he can go on.- The front fork of his bike is customised and of cause he put better suspensions in the back as well. Small tank bags, just slightly bigger ones in the back, some tubes aside to carry probably tools and stuff, on top just an old gun case. On tour, he adds maybe a sleeping bag and small folding matrass. No fancy equipment, just the necessary. My bilke is quite the opposite, lots of electronics, fairly new, even Touratech stuff on it, which Doug hates repeatedly. But we find our common understanding easily.
From the first moment I have the sensation that I have seen Doug somwhere, maybe not in persona, but as very often I wonder if it is just the kind of person who is very familiar, or if I noticed exactly him somewhere before, or, the older I get, the more I understand people very quickly. Apperently he writes for magazines once a while and is well known in the scene. Later I realize that I read one of his articles. But Dough is also the type who you can understand immediatly if you want to. The secret of being understood seems to be the very easy one, not to bullshit around. Unfortunatly not everybody is gifted that way.
It is the perfect place for me right now, man and machine are welcome. The old buildings are simple but nicely renovated, my room and food costs next to nothing. All is quiet and the athmosphere is the one of everybody is doing whatever they want. What else should it be? Apparently some spend their whole holidays after popping in just for a day. Riders and non riders.
It didnt take long and the tire question for my coming part of the tour is solved. My bike needs new tires soon, which Dough of cause spotted within four of the first ten minutes. Somehow together we choose the Heidenau Scout and just one phonecall is made to make sure I have them the next afternoon. Which is late for them, it should come normally in the morning!
I get tips about all the regions I want to cross, since Doug was allover, or heard by a friend how it looks like there. Also his experience is helpful while I try to figure out a cheaper way of air-cargo the bike from Almaty to Delhi, since the offers were of insane amounts.
In the evening I try to do some work, but another Brit (sorry friends, I am so bad with remembering names ...) comes with a beer and introduces himself as another world tourer. Within 15 Minutes his story, my story, his bikes, my bikes are told through and I also understand now that the village is a little British enclave. Many bought cheap, run down houses, renovate them and live there usually in the summer, many of them are bikers who meet every evening in the temple of it all, in the bar of Motocamp, where everybody is keen to know who the new arrived biker is.
Why all this in the middle of Bulgaria? Of cause its a woman who centers all this, Dougs partner Polly. She is from a neighbor town and couldnt belive Dougs idea to open a biker place in the village she knows so well. A dying village where the less then hundred inhabitants are above 70 years old, if there wouldnt be the Motocamp and the brits. But it looks like it works. Customers return and groups rent the place. Biker meetings are happening regular, and once a while someone stopps by, because of the sign on the road from Sofia to Varna. In my case it was more the instinct, like it happens often when looking for a place. I didnt read the sign well first, only saw "Camp", not consciously noticing the symbol of the motorcycle printed on. First passed it and thought by myself, hmm, check it out, or take the next opportunity? Positively thinking it might be good is usually a good indicator to listen to myself. Stop, turn back and hit!
Polly knows all about the area and as a Bulgarian she seems way more concerned about the future of the country as the others. The country is in a state of necessary changes, but the government and administration are still running on old habbits and corruption is the normal and they seem not to give up their positions willingly. The population wants new elections, but it seems that there are no alternatives of much younger poiticians jet who could take over the responsibility. And if so, the administration would not be able to operate much different then before. The generation between the old guard and the youngsters, who want a future in their own country, went abroad or were concentrating on their buisness. So there are not many left who have the knowledge, the skills and not at least the balls to face the mafiosy system. In my opinion Bulgaria has all it needs to develop it, not too small, not too big, some resources and a beautiful landscape. There is even enough money, it just would need to be distributed more evenly. Like elsewhere in the world.
Often, countries like Germany get compared in those discussions, but my opinion is, that still only one hundred years ago, everybody, who had money and buisness then, could almost do whatever they want without taking any responsibility, and most people didnt have the chance to get up the ladder. And if you look at it closer, it is in fact still the same way. Just now there is more left over and for a long time it was fought for, so most can live in comparativly good standards. How long did it take there until the buisness was fed and rich enough that others became their chance as well? Now they produced the so called crisis to channel even more money into the very top level of society. The ongoing tric is to deleverage the banks, not the population! The population has to pay the artificial deficits. Polly says that something has to happen very soon, or it might become much worse.
So there are people like her, Doug and Ivo, who takes care about the place as well all year long, who have some initiative to build up some small infrastructure, before the whole country is taken over by the big international companies, the bigger mafia. "Lidel" is already allover the country, selling German products, or wherever they are cheaply produced and sold much more expensive as local products are.
The pitchblack dog, called "Harley", barks sometimes when the wild dogs are hunting noisy in the woods or when they piss in front of the gate. Otherwise we are friends now since we shared some of the meat I prepared back in Sofia, which needed to be eaten. She even listened to me when I wanted her to stay inside when the gate needed to be open to get the bike out for a ride to the neighbor town. Cute, small, and one "Lidel" shop where of cause I met another biker and his wife just returning from a trip, and met him back in the evening. Where? In the bar, where everybody was entertained on that second evening by a huge spider, now called "Boris", which Doug tried to feed with a moth. It would have been his second kill that day, after he told us to stay aside when he chopped out a mole from his ground, succeded with it, and the necessity of it was widly discussed, not by me, someone who shot pigeons in his garden with bow and arrow ... . Some things Dough doesnt like. Like moles. I hate pigeons and rats.
I get tips for the maintenance for my machine, on which I urgently have to check the valve clearence and synchronization, while dough checks his next to it. We go through the riding in different countries like the Arabian ones he did. As always when you talk with people who were actualy there by themselves, you hear that the people are friendly and hospitable like in most places in the world. Beliving the media is like being victimized to sheer propaganda for political reasons. So far I only can agree to the friendlyness of people I meet allover the world, in my previous trips and on this one. Just where rich and poor are close together in a friction zone I am always careful, and if something smells strange just to keep on going seems the best strategy to avoid misunderstandings.
Also the pros and cons of my 1200 are once more exposed and he tells me that he just dislikes the riders who dont do anything with it, but just riding around in Germany, fully equipped as if they want to get around the world twice. Germany is overcrowded with them and Dough calls them the "Macgrgorites", according to Charley Boormans and Ewen McGregors documentations of their professionally backed up and well sponsored trips, the many GS riders are inspired by. Hmm, so was I, I have to admit, when I still didnt know much about it all. I had the fear I could stay within their circle, but after doing my first 10.000km trip through Scandinavia, I thought, ok, that is 10.000km. On good roads of cause, in a pieceful environment, enough money, no work to do beside, yes ok, all what is different now, but I knew by then that more is possible. Now the 1200 has done 27.000km with me in 2 years, 10.000km of them on this trip again, no trip arpound the world jet, but enough to get closer to the serious buisness. - At least I would DO SOMETHING with the machine which makes sense and it is build for, is Dough befriending comment. For my part I dont want any other machine, though I fear the day a suspension fails, or even worse, the electronic brain gives up its healthy spirit, some problems you cant replace easily on the road.
I get no concret answer from Almaty when I should be there to work in the alternative place which seemed to come up. Somehow moody I feel it is time. It would be hard to leave this place if I would stay longer, as it is hard already now. Always these choices to make. So I leave this lovely place, otherwise I would stay and stay and stay and see no reason to leave. I wonder when and where I will do that one day.
I hope I can send them some riders to Idlievo and other people to give someting back in return to the hospitality and help I got. Check it out on: