Bulgaria and Israel have many similarities. For example, Israelis dance the hora, and Bulgarians dance the horo. Israel’s prime minister has a funny nickname – Bibi. Bulgaria’s prime minister has a funny name – Boyko. Bulgaria has many ski resorts; Israel has the Hermon.
But there is one major difference between the two countries, and that difference is water. Even though Bulgaria is situated by only one sea – the Black Sea – and Israel has the Mediterranean, Dead, and Red seas, Bulgaria has more water. Bulgaria gets rain all through the year, while in Israel, rain is a seasonal thing. Bulgaria has many rivers. Israel has only a few and the lower Jordan River doesn’t have much water in it.
In short, why didn’t anyone think of exporting Bulgarian water to Israel before today?
This morning I walked into a Cofix outlet, where you can get coffee, and sandwiches, and Coca Cola, and mints, and yogurt, and salads, and even cutlery – for just 5 shekels per item. My plan was to get freshly squeezed orange juice and a tuna fish sandwich.
Much to my surprise, I saw a bottle of mineral water in the refrigerator with the label “Bachkovo”.
I recognized Bachkovo as the name of one of the largest monasteries in Bulgaria, located just south of Plovdiv. My wife and I visited Bachkovo in May; we walked around the courtyard of a monastery that dates back to the year 1083. Like Israel, Bulgaria suffered for centuries under Ottoman rule, and the Turks were not exactly welcome at Bachkovo; the monastery was renovated at the end of the 15th century.
Back to Cofix. I forked over 5 shekels and bought a bottle of Bachkovo. I saw that the mineral water was bottled in Bulgaria and exported by a company located at Shipka Street 3, in Sofia. On our recent visit to Sofia, my wife and I stayed at the Crystal Palace Hotel, located at Shipka Street 14. Little did we know at the time that Bulgarian water was being shipped to our homeland from just down the street.
My bottle of Bulgarian water is right in front of me as I write these words, and I am a little hesitant about opening it to drink. But then, Cofix has a steady stream of water flowing from Bulgaria, available at a very cheap price, so why not quench my thirst with mineral water exported to Israel straight from Sofia, Bulgaria?
Originally published at The Times of Israel.