In his novel До Чикаго и назад (To Chicago and Back), Bulgarian writer Aleko Konstantinov takes up again the character of Bay Ganyo, who had already appeared in his debut novel, and uses him as a third plan person in his description of his visit to the World Exhibition of Chicago in 1893.
Bay Ganyo, a rose oil trader who travels around Western Europe, has become not only the most popular character of Bulgarian literature, but also a symbol of cultural and national identity.
Konstantinov’s works, including the Bay Ganyo novelettes and the Chicago travel novel, opened Bulgaria to Western culture and are considered to be the start of the tourist movement in his native country.
More than a century after the World Exhibition in Chicago, I have embarked in an adventure similar to the one described in Konstantinov’s novel, but in the opposite direction.
I arrived in Sofia a couple of hours ago and I certainly feel like a 21 century Bay Ganyo, clumsily trying to adapt to a foreign environment. His travels were a succession of misfortunes and, as far as I can tell from my first hours here, so are mine.
The apartment I was supposed to stay in was flooded after a hot water pipe burst last night and I had to find an alternative place to crash till the problem is solved.
Every cloud has a silver lining, though, and the new place has a wonderful Internet connection that will let me do what Bay Ganyo would have done, had he lived a century later: change my Facebook location and go to bed wishing you all (and myself) good night and good luck.