Update: The months of January and Febuary

As we had the Christmas break at the beginning of the year and the winter months are generally the more calmer ones, we are coming back to you with an update for both, January and Febuary.

We had a good start in the new year, which was quite cold in Shipka. We definetly had a proper winter with a lot of snow, of which we want to share some impressions with you:


As already said, the winter months are the more calmer ones around here. There is not so much going on in terms of events and tourists and you can’t really work on outside projects. That’s why we mainly focused on computer work.

Martin was reorganizing and developing the omind.org website, so we can use it as space to inform you about the latest news of our project work. He is also working on the stickers for the recycling container-lits, with which we want to raise awareness about the topic of recycling. After this, Martin continued a task that Lena has started a while ago: He is organizing and setting the Shop Database on our other website, Shipka.info. The idea is to give visitors the opportunity to donate either for the Museum, the reparation of the roof of the Chitalishte  or for the Old Chitalishte by buying little Souvenirs. (You will find the link to it here as soon, as it is ready.)

Adel was finalizing the drafts for his signs: His personal project is to make 5 new educational and especially children-friendly signs for the Ecotrail, that you can see soon during your visit in Shipka!

Paulina was working on the panels for the Info Center and started furthermoe with the creation of a poster about or project that we are going to present at Shipka fest in May.

With Tatyana, we were also selecting the future volunteers that will join our team in the upcoming months, as Paulina finishes her EVS after 7 months and will leave Shipka at the end of Febuary. Besides, the Major tourist expo took place in Sofia, where Tatyana went to present the Museum. For this project, there was also a brochure created, which you can see here.

Moreover, Martin and Adel helped with the inventorisation of new books for the community library.

Since we were lucky and the weather became really springlike from mid-Febuary on, we could finally work in the Permaculture Garden and started with some preparation for the Gardening season. And Martin cleaned one compost near Chitalishte.

We also learned how to do grafting. Grafting is a traditional method of refining flowers or fruit trees. We have done it with cherry trees and in the following pictures, we would like to present what we’ve learned: To do the grafting, first of all you need one plant that you choose for its roots, the rootstock. In our case these are the cherry trees, and after selecting them the first step is to cut the trunk. Then you need one plant that you choose for it’s stems or fruits, in our case a branch with good buds. If you have those and the rootstock has one branch that fits with the size of the other branch you chose, you can start by cutting them diagonally. The goal is here to have an even cut that looks like an ellipse. After this, make a straight cut down the branch, not too deep, and try to move the knife in order to increase the cut. After doing this with both branches, you should be able to stick them together. If it they fit together, you wrap it with tape, so both branches stay alive until the graft has “taken”. Of course we will report in one of our next Updates if our grafting was successful ; ).

Apart from this there were also some Celebration Days occuring, for which we had to do some preparation:

The 14th Febuary is the Day of St. Trifon Zarezan, which is related to the celebration of wine in Bulgaria. For this day,  Adel helped to organise a competition for homemade wine in the Chitalishte, and then we joined the Celebration with Kukeri, music and dancing.

And as the 1st March is “Baba Marta” Day, we learned how to do “Martenitzi” in order to spread them on the Day, which is said to bring luck and health!

The 3rd of March is celebrated as the Liberation Day in Bulgaria and it is a really big day especially for Shipka with it’s historical importance. For the Celebarations of this important festivity, we arranged the museum in order to make it presentable again after winter time, where it was shut.

For this event we spent some time to help Nick with baking homemade pies – mostly Adel and on the end, if the time was running fast, helped also Martin, Petya and Budika. More about this event you will find in the next Update.

The 1st of March was also the last one for Paulina. She enjoyed this day very nice way. She dressed up in a traditional folk costume like a Baba Marta’s helper. She was the most important person of the day, who followed the Baba Marta and gave the Martenitsi to people from a nice handbasket full of luck and health.

We visited the kindergarten, where we gave Martenitsi to all children, together with one local lady like “Baba Marta”. After we continued with Denitsa around Shipka and gave Martenitsi to a local people and to every shop – small one for people and bigger one with a dolls for protecting the house. Martin was making this short movie from this tour, which you can watch on YouTube. More about this event you can read in here and about the meaning and history of Martenitsi you can find in this article from last year.

It was very nice sunny day, which brought with Baba Marta to Shipka smiles, good luck and spring atmosphere. Next morning Paulina said us goodbye and started her journey to home. Thank you Paulina for you conscientious work and we wish you many success in your next activities.

Author: Paulina Schick and Martin Votava
Photo: Martin Votava, Paulina Schick, Tatyana Kosekova

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