Sofia, Bulgaria. Summer heat in the panel complexes. It’s so hot that people are in desperate need of cooling off. At the same time, there are not so many suitable places, and they are also pretty expensive. If a family of four goes to the only mineral pool in town, they will spend a respectable amount of money only for admission. So what is the solution?
I am living in one of these stuffy panel complexes, so I had to think it up and make it.
The solution is located on the opposite side of the city, at the foot of the mountains surrounding the Bulgarian capital. There are three natural mineral springs near one of the villages there. All of them have a small debit, so they are not of interest to the business. Local people have made a makeshift bath next to the one closest to the village. It is the most popular and crowded, which takes away from its appeal.
There are two more mineral springs up in the mountain. In their original state, they looked more like puddles. In both places, the mineral water springs near a cold river, but is mixed with mud and debris from the mountain. When I first went to the second puddle years ago, it could hold a maximum of 3-4 people at the same time. So I took it upon myself and, over the course of months and years, I did enoble this place.
I go there almost every day. I bring cement and with sand and stones from the river I build up the puddle, which at the moment looks like a pretty decent pool in the middle of the forest. My journey takes about three hours one way: two by public transport and one on foot through rough terrain. Now the water hole is big enough to accommodate 20 and more people. It has three levels: the deepest, just over two meters, is the original spring, then an intermediate level, and the shallowest is for children. The water is about 29 degrees Celsius, which is great in the summer (you can soak in the water, while basking in the sun), but it’s also good for use in winter.
In summer, the sun shines on the place between 11 am and 5 pm. Then it gets cold. I drain the pool so that the water does not turn green from the algae and I clean the bottom. Then I put a plug in to fill the entire volume again. Draining the reservoir takes 10-12 minutes, while filling takes six hours, due to the small flow rate.
And so every day. For the pleasure of the tourists and for my personal satisfaction. I call what I have build “my Jacuzzi”.
In fact, it does not belong to me, but to all the residents and guests of Sofia, who know this little secret. It is free, accessible, in the fresh mountain air, and less than an hour’s drive from the center of Sofia! I’m not telling you exactly where it is, but it’s just nice to know that it’s there, because it brings optimism and glee as well as hope and faith that it’s possible to have such a corner of heaven nearby.