There are 33 minutes left of Christmas here in Bulgaria. It’s been a nice, lazy, food-filled day spent with friends and strangers (who are now friends).

Christmas is a funny time for me as so often I’m alone, and despite having 363 other days in the year that I’m perfectly content to let happen as they may, my birthday and Christmas (and sometimes New Years) are odd days where I feel a bit anxious about being without close friends or family. It’s a price of being semi-nomadic I think. This year I’m with my dear friends, Jane and Mira, in the small town of Bogdan, close to Plovidv. It’s my first time in Bulgaria, and so far it’s great. I managed to leave my wallet in my car in Belgium and despite being broke, I’m treated like a queen by everyone, including complete strangers who drove me to the centre of Sofia and insisted on buying me a local beer at a dive bar on Friday night.

Village life is sleepy, the buildings and homes are dilapidated, the library-hair salon-kindergarten is in an incredible old building that seems about to fall down at any moment. Today was Christmas and men butchered their own pigs, literally staining the streets red with blood. They prep the skin before peeling it off to eat raw (something Mira jokingly calls “pig sushi”). Being vegetarian is not a popular choice here – I’m afraid if I told them I don’t eat meat or drink alcohol that I’d be on the menu for Christmas dinner myself. People are remarkably kind and welcoming and without a word in English we get along great. Mira’s brother, Pieter, hilariously speaks Italian to me, and I respond in Spanish. I think there’s so much nodding and smiling and rakia-drinking that comprehension is irrelevant.

It’s funny to think that a year ago I was living in Barichara, in eternal summer with a lost love and my machete (wait, that’s kind of a weird way of phrasing that… those two things are not related). This year I’m trying to learn the basics of the Cyrillic alphabet (and failing) with my favourite lesbians and a bunch of carnivores in winter.

I haven’t written my annual Christmas letter yet, but I hope inspiration for it will come in the next few days. Very sadly I seem to have lost my Christmas sweater and therefore need to do something new and special for my yearly Christmas picture. I have a few ideas, but nothing quite worthy has come to me yet. Wait for it, I hope it will be worth it.

Happy Christmas everybody. Love you all lots and lots. xoxo