MARILYN MONROE IN BULGARIA
Spelled “Merilyn” to avoid the long arm of MGM, this cigarette campaign was all the rage a few years ago. I also bought Ray Ben sunglasses. Drawing in a cafe, it thrilled my Los Angeles soul to see it snow and snow. I was less thrilled later, when I realized my boots were too slick to go anywhere.
Compared to the bus, the night train border crossing was a picnic. Still it had left me groggy. I got off the train, that first time, and staggered up out of the underpass to see trees. Huge thunderhead trees. I cried out loud at the sight, there in the street. In Bulgaria, the parks are lush and the trees gloriously crowned. I loved Plovdiv so much that I went there thirteen times, every three months for three years, until I got my Turkish Residence visa. I’d take the overnight train to Plovdiv, walk around all day, and catch the midnight train back to Istanbul.
In my favorite cafe, trees grow up through the roof, and there’s ham for breakfast. Every trip, I’d draw myself awake. I saw the same people winter and summer, but this fellow, I saw only once.
Sure, you can get pork in Istanbul. After all, Istanbul is an international, eclectic, tolerant city. But in this Muslim culture, most of their hearts just aren’t into serving pig. While one friend served mountains of bacon at my birthday party, another told me “they say the air stinks of pork in Plovdiv.” I hadn’t noticed, I was eating pork ribs, juice running down my chin. Someone needs to do a T-shirt: I GOT PORKED IN PLOVDIV.
SNOW CAFE: Plovdiv in Winter NEXT: A PAGEANT OF NAMES