National Geographic : 1965 Jul
in excellent English that her countrymen are "advised" not to talk to Americans. Also, beards are discouraged. Dave's query, "How about the beards that Marx and Lenin wore?" drew only a shrug. "'Rock 'n' roll is frowned on too," the girl said. "But I have piles of Beatles records. No one knows, and it wouldn't make any difference if they did." Jazz apparently draws no criticism. The band played the Brubeck Quartet's "Take Five" and other modern pieces. If the young lady had any influence at all, it almost failed next morning when she went with Dan to several bakeries, trying to buy bread without a ration ticket. Up and down went the Bulgarian negative head shake, but eventually they returned with bread, butter, a cake, and sweet rolls. A few miles above Oryakhovo we spotted a man and wom an on shore energetically waving a flag. It was an American flag! Instinctively we knew this could mean only one thing mail from home. We swerved toward the riverbank and there the Williamses, Warren and Nancy, from the U. S. legation in Sofia, held out hands to grab ours. To make the rendezvous, the Williamses had driven for several hours over terrible roads. There had been no certain ty of finding us. We were deeply grateful. It was wonderful to talk without restraint to fellow countrymen. Free Discussion Flows on Wide River Jordan, our Bulgarian comrade, had sensitivity. A glorious sunset elicited from him: "It's beautiful-perfect. I can never see anything this splendid in Sofia!" An articulate, intelligent fellow, Jordan enjoyed frank dis cussions about communism, socialism, and capitalism. Out on the wide river, as we relaxed and let the current carry us, he asked about our beliefs and discussed his own. "Ours is a special problem you don't have," Jordan said. "After World War II we had to revive our economy by what ever means were possible. We are willing to sacrifice some human privileges to achieve specific material gains." Later he voiced, unconsciously, an old Balkan suspicion when he said: "I don't like Rumanian. It sounds like Chinese!" We hitched a ride on a coal-stoked local river boat, the Christo Smirnensky, which had a permanent starboard list and a surprisingly good cook. At village stops, dark men and pigtailed farmwomen got on and off. On the open top deck elderly couples sat with only handkerchiefs to shield their heads from the broiling sun. Young men played cards. Sun cracked faces, threadbare clothes, and gnarled, stubby fingers told of lifetimes of unremitting labor. At Ruse the boat's engineer, blackened with soot, came up Dawn's tawny light suffuses morning mists at Ostrov. Twitching a stripped branch, a woman drives a flock of ducks. In the distance, men row to island farms that dot the three-mile-wide Danube. Cloud of wool and dust follows a shepherd through the streets of Tulcea, an industrial town at the head of the Dan ube Delta. Down from the hills, the sheep will be ferried across the river to market.