We just came back from our two-week summer holidays. First ones in two years. We visited the coast of Bulgaria, mainly the Burgas and Nessebar areas. It has been a gratifying experience I will write about soon here on Micropreneur Life.

As there was nothing in the fridge, I went to a local supermarket to get some food for the following week. While we enjoyed warm temperatures in Burgas and Nessebar (above 30ºC every day), Sofia was cloudy, chilly and windy. As soon as I got out, I felt a really bad vibe. I’ve got goosebumps all over my body.

Protests in Sofia

There was a huge protest very close to our home. As we live two streets away from the National Assembly, we usually witness all public demonstrations. However, this one was frightening.

There were hundreds of people there without face masks. At least, I could not spot anyone wearing one. Close together. Using the word “social distancing” would be a joke.

Regardless of how noble or worthy their reason was, it was a terrible thing to see. As I walked through the park, there was a homeless man in a bench, coughing the life out of him. I think he was sick, but I did not dare to ask if he needed help. I doubt he would have understood me.

I was completely scared. Cases in Bulgaria are growing fast, and so is the death toll. There was something completely off with the whole situation. So I rushed to the supermarket with the intention of doing the groceries as fast as possible and getting back home.

Corruption in Bulgaria

Recently, a political scandal in Bulgaria showcased the concerning level of corruption in the country. Beaches in Bulgaria are supposed to be public, and accessible to anyone. However, to prove that this is indeed not true, Yes Bulgaria leader and former Justice Minister Hristo Ivanova tried to access a beach that has been de-facto privatized by Ahmed Dogan, the life honorary president of Movement for Rights and Freedoms.

The incident was followed by a clash involving people from different political parties and the police. This was just one of the many manifestations of political corruption in Bulgaria.

Don’t get me wrong, corruption is present in all countries. However, the situation in Bulgaria is so bad that it is even mentioned in the Wikipedia.

Siphoning of public funds to the families and relatives of politicians from incumbent parties has resulted in fiscal and welfare losses to society. Bulgaria ranks 71st in the Corruption Perceptions Index and experiences the worst levels of corruption in the European Union, a phenomenon that remains a source of profound public discontent.

Wikipedia

So I want to state that I fully support what Bulgarians are doing to defend democracy, freedom, and civil rights. But I think these protests will have a terrible effect on the coronavirus crisis here.

What does this have to do with the coronavirus crisis? Well, cases in Bulgaria have been growing fast since they eased the restrictions at the beginning of June. This is not a second wave, this is a second Tsunami.

coronavirus bulgaria, Bulgaria is headed to a coronavirus crisis. Here’s why., Micropreneur Life
History of daily active cases in Bulgaria. Source, Wikipedia.

When the estate of emergency was declared, there was just 23 total cases, after an increase in 16 cases. Back then, I could only go outside to do the groceries, and wearing a mask, of course. Yesterday, there were 292 new cases, to a total of 6,964. And yet, I can go to my favorite restaurant without a face-mask now.

Three days ago, Bulgaria closed indoor discos, nightclubs, and restricted group celebrations to 30 people. Then, three days later, in an unexpected twist, and with an ever increasing number of cases, after a meeting with the representatives of restaurants and bars, the Health Ministry changed his mind and decided to ease restrictions for nightclubs, gatherings, etc.

That decision has not been taken with the public health in mind.

People don’t care at all anymore

During our trip, we realized that people don’t give a shit about the virus anymore.

We did not want to stay at hotels, so we stayed at AirBnB apartments. Fortunately, there were not a lot of people during the first ten days. But things started to get crowded some days ago. We were staying in an apartment in the outskirts of Nessebar. There was a hotel nearby and we enjoyed having breakfast there.

This Friday, the hotel started to get really crowded, and people did not care at all about the coronavirus. No social distancing, people getting close to you on queues, some people coughing near you without covering their mouth… I am glad we left today, because I was not feeling comfortable anymore.

That, alongside the fact that people were not wearing face-masks today, or in the hotels, or in the beach, restaurants, or anywhere else for that matter, is a clear sign that people have given up.

The perfect storm for a coronavirus crisis

It’s not ignorance or the embarrasing science refusal exercise from their politicians like in the United States or Brazil, it’s not even reality-denial like in the UK. It’s just that they don’t care at all anymore. Perhaps they are sick of it. Maybe they have just had enough of it.

Whatever the reason, this is the perfect storm for a new coronavirus crisis here. And I am deeply concerned.

All that glitters is not gold

When the coronavirus pandemic hit Europe, I felt relieved of being in Bulgaria. It seemed to me the country took things seriously. With just 23 cases, they declared the estate of emergency, enforced face-mask use and closed bars, restaurants and non-essential businesses.

It seemed they had the situation under control.

You could also feel on the streets how people took it seriously. There were people here and there not using masks, but overall, people were scared and followed the guidelines of the Ministry of Health.

All of that has changed now. People don’t seem to care anymore. The cases are skyrocketing, and there is no point of known return in sight.

Conclusion

Past March I wrote about how we lived the coronavirus situation here in Bulgaria. Back then, I though I was in the right place. Recent spikes in cases and the reaction of both the government and the people here convinced me I probably had the wrong feeling.

So if you are a digital nomad considering where to head next in Europe, I cannot recommend you to come to Bulgaria right now. The situation is getting really scary here. Go somewhere safer.

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8 Comments

  1. Paul July 21, 2020 at 11:16 pm

    Greetings from Sofia!

    All your observations are correct.

    Yes, Bulgaria had a chance to become a green zone after they enacted measures swiftly and early. And yes, now the atmosphere is more relaxed.

    But I do not agree with the sentiment that this poses a problem. I think the evidence is mounting that the virus simply isn’t that bad. It was good to react to the novel virus, but once it’s clear that the death tool and health affects aren’t actually too bad, we should try to normalize rapidly. And we are.

    Reply
    1. nacho July 22, 2020 at 9:28 am

      Hi Paul, thanks for commenting. Depends on your definition of “isn’t that bad”. 313 people in the country, more than 616,000 people worldwide have died. They, and their families and friends, may dissent with that, I guess. You are probably young, feel invincible, and feel it does not affect you, so it’s not that bad in your view. Elderly people however, who’ve been told they are expendable or should be willing to die to support the economy (https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/03/24/covid-19-texas-official-suggests-elderly-willing-die-economy/2905990001/), have a completely different story to tell.

      Reply
    2. Mike July 23, 2020 at 9:44 am

      You say Digital Nomad lifestyle is a scam but it didnt occur to you that Corona is just a harmless flu and a total scamdemic??

      Reply
      1. nacho July 23, 2020 at 2:28 pm

        Hi Mike. First: I did not say that the digital nomad lifestyle was a scam. Where did you read that? I am indeed a digital nomad. Secondly: Coronavirus has killed so far more than 616K people (taking into account that thousands of deaths are not being reported in 3rd world countries, etc) and shows no signs of stopping, on the contrary, it is only going to get worse during fall/winter. Given that the flu kills annually between 290K and 650K people, You can’t possibly call this a scam, now can you?

        Perhaps you have reliable information that shows that this is all a scam and these people did not die? If so, please share it with us, I will be glad to contact the WHO and tell them all about it 😝.

        Reply
  2. Thorsten July 22, 2020 at 2:03 am

    I’m living in Sweden since the beginning of april. No lockdown, no facemasks. Currently summer life is near to normal, with the exception of huge events.

    Checking the statistics of the public health agency shows that the situation is calm now:
    https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/09f821667ce64bf7be6f9f87457ed9aa

    Perhaps the psychology of fear would be a good topic for a new article 😉

    Reply
    1. nacho July 22, 2020 at 9:23 am

      Hi Thorsten, thanks for commenting. I am afraid I have to disagree. I don’t know how governmental PR works in Sweden (apparently well), but outside of your borders, your country is shown as an example of how not to do things. If you want some data, have a look at this CNN article (https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/28/europe/sweden-coronavirus-lockdown-strategy-intl/index.html). I don’t know how you define “calm” now, but I guess you would define it differently if it was one of your parents or grandparents who had died?

      Wearing a mask maybe means fear for you, it means respect for me. And if we can all save lives, I am honestly happy to wear mine. I can also live some months without going to a restaurant or the cinemas, fortunately.

      Reply
      1. Thorsten July 27, 2020 at 11:45 pm

        Hi Ignacio!

        First, I’m also a digital nomad – in the summer sailing the Baltic Sea with our gaff cutter from 1896 and spending the winter in the Canary Islands, to avoid winter depression.

        So, this springtime I experienced the Corona crisis in three different countries: Spain, Germany (where I was born) and Sweden. Honestly, Spain was the worst experience, changing within 24 hours to a become a police state in the spirit of Franco’s dictatorship. I was really chocked by the irrationality of the political decisions in Spain, and by the mind shift in people.

        The opposite in Sweden: The politicians mostly in the background, the factual steering by the experts of the public health agency. And what did they do really do in Sweden? Well, the state’s epidemiolog Anders Tegnell explained it in his summer talk: The WHO had developed in over 20 years strategies for cases of a pandemic. And Sweden followed just these approved strategies in the unknown field of SARS-CoV-2, meanwhile most of the European leaders fell in panic modus, hunted by the media. So Sweden was and is still the pole of rationality, thank heaven!

        And rationality is what is needed most. Do you really think that medical science will succeed in controlling the microbes? It’s just a few years ago that scientists have discovered that the lungs are not a sterile environment, but that there’s a well balanced microbiome, as in the intestines. And what do we know about disbalancing this microbiome by wearing face masks? Basic research is nothing to make money with, therefore we are lacking the knowledge to take informed decisions.

        In my opinion it’s not the quantity of lives but the quality of lives that matters!
        Death is a natural part of life, no reason to fear it or to fight against it. We should focus to live our lives the best way we can, without unfounded fear.

        Reply
        1. nacho July 28, 2020 at 10:05 am

          Hi Thorsten,

          Thanks for your message. I appreciate some of your points here, but frankly, I find your reference to Franco quite off and –please forgive the bold expression– somewhat ignorant. The fact that the police were enforcing the safety measures (dictated by a left socialist party by the way) is probably years ahead of what we went through during the dictatorship. That was definitely a bold statement. I know Spaniards, and I know that they won’t wear a mask if you don’t force them to. In fact, the first thing they did when the lockdown was announced in Madrid was flying off from Madrid to the coast communities, thus spreading the virus.

          I agree with your statement that is quality what matters, but that has nothing to do with the fact that, if we can save a life by wearing a mask (and honestly, it is not that bothering at all), then why not? These people will have the same quality of life, only, they will be alive, if we all take some precautions. I think western countries have proven that our societies are selfish and we only think in our personal gratification.

          I personally don’t see a lot of rationality in your arguments, they seem quite the opposite to me. It is just my opinion, though, but things like “Do you really think that medical science will succeed in controlling the microbes?”, and “Death is a natural part of life” sounds A LOT like anti-vax stuff. “Why bothering with vaccines? Death and sickness are a natural part of life! And it’s not like medical science will be able to do anything”.

          Sorry but can’t definitely agree with you. I have more faith these days in medical science than in mankind, at least, in western societies.
          Of course this is just my opinion on the subject, and I appreciate and respect yours.

          Reply

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