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People who know me know that I’m not easily scared. But I can be. There was one moment in 2015 when my heart was racing from apprehension more than any other. Recently I wrote about my most embarrassing moment of 2015. Well, here is my most terrifying moment!
In July 2015, I left Istanbul and traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria where I met up with my Couchsurfing host Petya (Петух in Bulgarian). I arrived on the bus at 6 AM and met up with my host at 9 in the Old Town. But you can read all about that in my post on Sofia.
This story takes place at the music festival in Ezdimirtsi, a tiny village in western Bulgaria near the Serbian border. Petya and I left the flat pretty quickly and didn’t take anything with me beyond a couple changes of underclothes and my sleeping bag. No flashlight, no mobile, not even a watch. And certainly nothing heavy.
We arrived at the festival on Friday as they were setting up. Petya had brought a couple of hammocks, and we set them up in a cluster of trees a couple hills away from where the bands were performing. They were so comfortable that they inspired me to purchase a Hobo Hammock (click to purchase your own and support my travels).
The next day someone else had commandeered my hammock, but they offered me the use of their tent. I didn’t have my sleeping mat yet but the fields were covered in dense grass and thus still comfortable. After all, I spent months sleeping in the fields of Oregon back in the ’90s. I was happy to accept.
That night I retired from the concert a little early (still well after midnight). I was still suffering from a bit of a stomach bug after something I ate in Istanbul. Anyway, I went to bed, listening to the music echoing over the hills from the concert.
The screams started a couple hours later.
From somewhere out in the dark, a woman (presumably) was screaming in agony. The kind of scream you tried to make as a kid when waking up from a nightmare, only worse. Almost inhuman, to the point where I continually thought perhaps it was an animal.
Either way, it was a little upsetting. Here I was in a foreign country, at a music festival where maybe five out of the hundreds spoke English, wearing nothing more than a t-shirt and shorts, no flashlight and nothing to use as a weapon. As much I wanted to run to the rescue, I couldn’t even tell where the sound was coming from. There was no moonlight to see by, and I had no way to know if it was a drunk, enraged man or a beast causing the terrifying scream.
It went on. And on. And on. Minutes. Hours. No way to know without a watch. I didn’t want to know.
In the distance, the concert continued to pound out the music, drowning out the screams for anyone closer to the stage. And no one else that I knew of was camping as far away as I was.
There was no way I could sleep through it. It was probably two hours after the screams finally stopped when my adrenaline went down enough to drop into a fitful sleep.
The next morning, I asked Petya and others at the festival if anyone knew what had happened. They had no idea what I was talking about. No one had heard any screams, no one was missing, no one was injured. Had I imagined it? Definitely not! But to this day I have no idea what really happened, and Petya still hasn’t heard anything. I can only imagine.
I hope that the situation never repeats. I never travel now without some form of protection and a first aid kit, not just for myself, but to come to the rescue of another who needs it.
Have you had any terrifying experience? What did you do? Did it put you off traveling at all? Feel free to share in the comments below.