Good Friday in Sofia

On the streets of Sofia people are having coffee soaking up on the sun. I find myself on Boulevard Vitosha and along the road is the Sveta Nedelya church. Flocks of Bulgarians from all walks of life are there for Good Friday. I was actually surprised about this, because I knew that normally Good Friday is celebrated on a different date in the Eastern Church. Having checked the Internet, it turns out that they can fall on the same day.

Inside the church people line up to receive leaves from the “priest”, then they kiss the Bible and a cross on top of a table. After that, they crawl under that table, rise up and light a candle around certain areas of the church. A while ago I was actually wondering about the aim of that tradition; it turns out that the table is a representation of the coffin of Christ, going under and rising up is meant to cleanse you from sin.

As they make their way out of the church, a few of them would kiss images of Saints along the halls of the church. A Bulgarian chap told me the tradition has pagan origins.

An hour after that I went to a coffee house just outside of Rotunda church. I asked the waitress if they had pastries, and she said not on this day… Did she meant that normally they serve food but that Good Friday was an exception?

I couldn’t really have clear answers from her because of the language barrier. For example, I asked her about what was going on inside the churches: “Today is happy day in Bulgaria”… She could have meant Holliday or it could have been literal translation of “Great Friday” in English.

Sign of the times: Cuba

I visited Cuba to study Spanish in 2003, and I can say that it was one of my most interesting trips. Visiting Cuba is like going back into the fifties with all those vintage cars they have. It was quite an experience as Cuba is still one of the last “Communist” states around, it’s quite a change from the Coca Cola billboards on the Freeway, to see big posters with “Viva la revolución” in big red letters.  Ever since I left Cuba, I have always told friends to go visit the place now as the system will change soon.

I am posting this entry as I have just read that on the VI Communist Party Congress, Raul Castro has announced a couple of economic reforms rectifying the errors of the past. One of the changes will be the suppression of the libreta system( food ration cards). My Spanish teacher showed me an example of it, and I kindly asked her if I could take a picture of it. When I took the picture, I was thinking of the moment when this system will cease to exist.
The end of Cubas Food ration card: la libreta
Here is a picture of one of those vintage cars:
An American vintage car in Trinidad, Cuba