Gotta Read the Signs in September

In the month of September alone, I’ve had both a horse’s muzzle and the barrel of a gun starring down my face. Makes for an impressionable 5 weeks. Prior to arriving to Sofia, Bulgaria, I intentionally internalized this month to be more instinctual and less over thinking (sort of ironic since I thought Bulgaria would be the most debatable place I visit this year). It’s a mentality that can be summed up quite easily. Whenever you think about saying ‘no,’ simply say ‘yes’. I only preface my readership with this approach as it helps explain a mix of activities that I would normally never do. Furthermore, I believe this sort of mentality also serves as a silhouette of a greater reasoning behind traveling the world in the first place.

Moving Mountains

6 of my first 24 hours in Bulgaria were dedicated to climbing a mountain and witnessing the famed and pristine Seven Lakes of Rila. Now I don’t typically climb mountains. It’s not my type of thing. In fact, when I mentioned to my pops that I was going to hike a mountain, he rebutted, “just make sure when my son gets back to the States that he is still black.” Bahahahaha. Pops got jokes. But the experience was well worth it. On a personal level, it was a different type of physicality than what my body is use to. For everyone that was shocked that I took my time going up and coming down the mountains, two things. There is a such thing as muscle memory. I can lift, run, and play ball for hours, as that is what my body is trained to do. Climbing and scaling a bunch of rocks ain’t in my DNA bruh. Secondly, I was in some fake Yeezy’s. Them junts have no grip, and I wasn’t trying to risk it all.

On a spiritual level, Rila Lakes’ clear blue waters, monstrous peaks, and vast fields of open space evoked an appreciation for nature that I haven’t felt in a long time. Especially in the wake of several extreme natural disasters occurring around the world as of late, to observe a space so calm and so inviting was nothing short of humbling.

Steering Ms. Stella

The next installment of “things that Baba typically never does,” features majestic horses and archaic target practice with bows and arrows. Let me introduce y’all to my companion Ms. Stella. She’s a fine horse indeed. Blaze markings, a full mane that combs down just below the neck, and a tail that swayed so adoringly in the wind that all the studs want to get at her. I fasho had the best horse of the whole harras, and she trotted like a queen. I’ve ridden a horse once or twice in my life before, and usually some pelvic soreness is involved afterwards. I’m not sure if I had just gotten better, or if Stella was just that graceful, but the entire ride was like floating on a cloud, and to her I am truly grateful.

This is not Ms. Stella but I couldn’t pass up showing y’all this jungle fever. Besides, a brotha can love more than one horse.

After, Stella and I finished getting to know one another on a personal level, I tried my hand at a little archery. After brief instructions and a mini-demonstration and I picked up my bow and a few arrows and was ready to go. The guy teaching us had overemphasized not to aim with your eyes per se, but rather shoot from your heart and let instinct guide you. As aforementioned, I already decided that instinct was going to be my lighthouse this month, so in my mind, this is literally how I felt it was going to go down:

The first few tries, my arrow fell straight to my feet and the instructor looked at me like I was crazy. Eventually muscle memory kicked in and I was shooting like a true marksmen. From hiking mountains to volunteering for a nonprofit, this month has definitely been productive and mostly packed full of positivity. I can’t write about all the things I did, but I have provided additional pictures to illustrate.

Baba Moment: Five-O

This past Friday night, I was walking to meet up with a friend. I was probably no more than 300 feet away from where I am suppose to meet her, and then I see a man stumbling with “Police” written across his shirt. Naturally, I tense up (just for a brief second) and walk the other direction. I’m thinking everything is good up until I hear racial slurs being yelled. Safe to say that if I hear the ’N’ word in the middle of Sofia, Bulgaria, more than likely someone is talking to me. So I slow my pace and turn around and the supposed cop is standing next to me, hella drunk, yelling with his hand out and pointing to my pockets. I say “supposed”, because it is debatable whether or not this man was a real cop.

It’s not my first rodeo with cops in a foreign country. Two years ago in Madrid, I got stop by a police task force after the El Classico match, because I looked suspicious and the city was passively under a terrorist watch due to the major soccer game. Earlier this year in Malaysia, a group of cops detained me and my homie Drew, due to the actions of another person who had jumped a barricade and trespassed on official property. Why they held us accountable? Who knows. Nonetheless, I’m familiar with the signs of official police presence and this current situation was feeling too unfamiliar. Buddy ain’t show me no badge, he was alone (police usually are at least in pairs), he was drunk, and he didn’t speak a lick of English (most public servants at least speak decent English) besides the racial slur that caught my attention in the first place.

Of all the signs I had been looking for, whether or not homie had a gun was my only concern. He started getting aggressive and physical and I had to back up and tell him to chill. For those of you who know me well, I like to tell people to chill. It’s not on purpose, just a force of habit that happens sometimes. This was one of those times, and to make it worse, I appended a “calm, down,” to my request, and I guess that didn’t bode well. I didn’t have to search for a gun much longer, because he whipped that sucka out and cocked it back real quick. At this point I’m thinking, “mane is this really happening to me in Bulgaria??” -.-

I attempted to wiggle myself out of this unfortunate chain of events by trying to find someone to help translate what the guy wanted. The first person I approached for some translation help can legit kick rocks. Ole boy had been watching the ENTIRE TIME and when I asked if he could help translate what the guy wanted, he said “I don’t speak English,” and walked off to a safer distance AND CONTINUED TO WATCH!! Like bruh??? Really?? But you can’t sweat the people who refuse to hold you down.

By the grace of God, a group of young gentlemen probably in their mid 20s were passing by on the opposite curb. Being the cool, level headed person that I am, I yelled, “This dude got a gun and I can’t understand sh*t he saying.” Once they stopped in their tracks, I knew they spoke English. ;) They were cool dudes too. Went out of there way to try and diffuse the situation. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what happened after that, because once the drunk guy went over to talk to them and holstered his weapon, I disappeared.

Long story short, September 2017 has def been a month for the books and I most likely will never forget my time spent here in Bulgaria. And if I could offer once piece of advice in life, it would be to always go with your gut and never forget to read the signs folks.