The Night of the Scorpion

Bielogradchik is a town in Bulgaria, just across the serbian border, famous for its peculiar stone formation. For those of you who have ever been to Barcelona, it looks like a small Montserrat in a way.

We arrived there on a hot afternoon after having climbed almost 1000 metres, tired, thirsty and just wanting to rest. For this reason we didn’t really stop to admire the stones for too long and at the time I felt kind of guilty about it.

You see, bike traveller we always go on about how traveling this way allows you to see and experience more and, in a way, it’s true. However, cyclists are also humans and as so we often feel like no matter how much we see and experience, we are always missing out on some.

And that’s how I felt. It had been a great and eventful day and I didn’t really stop to take in the awesomeness of the place. I just wanted to shower ! I mean, just a few minutes before sweat from my chin had been dripping on my bike’s frame and my elbows felt like little warm waterfalls. Just to get you into the picture, sorry.

As I was saying, shower. Ironically enough, just a few minutes after we arrived to the campsite it started raining cat and dogs and it didn’t stop until just before nightfall. The campsite’s owner, a good-natured woman in her 60s who could communicate to us using the French she had learned at school years before, told us that, if we wanted, we were welcomed to use one of the bungalows which sat sadly empty in the forest that night (actually, they all were; we were the only tourists in the whole place) and we knew that it was difficult decision time for the 421adventure team.

Upon arriving at the premises we had seen them; 4 or 5 little off-white structures dating back to the 80s or maybe even earlier. We could actually feel the dusty air even though we cycled past them from a distance. But the ground was completely saturated with the downpour and the thought of not having to put up the tent and blow up the mattresses only to reverse the process in the morning thus saving about 30 minutes of work and a handful of Jules is always tempting.

By the time we had inspected the first bungalow, the one that the lovely lady had pointed out and, we later discovered, the only one which seem to be able to support human life, it was dark so we automatically assumed that the point of no return had passed; we were sleeping in the bungalow.

I wouldn’t use the word horrible. We consider ourselves “good” travelers so we are always flexible when it comes to adapting ourselves to other people’s standards. Of course we do not do so willingly but traveling means widening your horizon and when it’s bedtime, it’s bedtime. It’s stupid and frivolous to pretend that a few gigantic moths and several kilograms of dust are going to stop us from sleeping soundly and recharging our batteries.

That day I had thought several times about the huge stretching session I was going to have before going to bed. As I said earlier, we had climbed 1000 metres that day. My bike weights 50 kilograms. My muscles were aching and stiff. Stretch and then a little massage using that amazing arnica oil we bought in San Petersburg.

We had cleared the bed of any stuffy bedding and had placed our inflatable pillows and bed liners on the mattress. We didn’t need the latter, it was humid and warm in there but I didn’t want any part of myself touching any part of that room during the night.

I was just about to finish off. I had already stretched my left calf and all that was left was the right one when I saw it. I initially thought it was a stain. The plaster around us was all discoloured with humidity but this one was right in the corner between the ceiling and the wall. It had a distinctive shape, like a … like a … like a … “There’s a scorpion” I shouted. Not very loudly. I found myself feeling much calmer than expected. “Holy Guacamole there’s a scorpion”. Motherlover had been staring at me the whole time and never even winked (do they have eyes ?). Aurelie was also surprisingly calm about the whole ordeal.

In hindsight, what stressed me most was the fact that I didn’t know anything about this creature. I didn’t even know we had scorpions in Europe ! Was it small for it’s species ? Do they live in huge families ? Do they actually like cyclist meat or do they just kill us for fun ?

Immediately I realized something. We often complain about insects when we camp. Nobody likes mosquitos or wasps. Most people are not too keep on spiders. But this was a scorpion. Ok, this particular scorpion wasn’t the biggest on our good planet but that’s not what matters. This scorpion was a symbol. Soon scorpions will be our daily (or nightly) issue. Soon scorpions, and other creatures, will be a common theme of conversation. “Aurelie darling, please close the mosquito net or a scorpion might crawl in” will be heard in the middle of the night (she always needs the loo in the middle of the night).

I’m not sure if I (we) are ready for that. I don’t know anything about scorpions. Luckily in Bulgaria we still have free roaming so I better get reading. There’s lots on the internet about all of that.

Needless to say we slept in our tent that night. But the tent was in the bungalow. On the bed. I wasn’t going to let a landcrab vacate me out of a free bungalow !!

We also have an amazing YouTube channel with lots of different videos (in lots of different styles) from the road; 421adventure on YouTube

And please don’t forget that part of our adventure consists of fundraising and raising awareness for two incredible NGOs so please help us to spread the word and, of course, if you’re feeling generous, donate here; DONATE

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