No one can tell exactly how cactuses, which are not typical of this latitude, first came to appear near the village of Pushevo (Veliko Tarnovo district), but they have been growing there for many years now. Attracted by the pristine nature, many Russians have settled in the village, enriching the local foreign community which is predominantly English.
The appearance of cactuses of the Opuntia or Paddle cactus type, typical of the American prairie, rather than of the damp slopes of the Balkan Mountain Range remains a mystery. Each May and June the large cactus field, spreading over nearly 0.5 hectares, comes out in yellow and red blossoms, turning into an irresistible attraction for many tourists. But the local people also delight in this exotic species. The rumors of this picturesque village and its cactus field spread quickly and in a matter of years, foreigners started flocking to Pushevo. They include former cabaret musicians Gary and Ellie Martin who settled there ten years ago after traversing Bulgaria far and wide in search of just the right place. Igor and Natalia from Moscow are the latest addition to the foreign community who settled in Pushevo. They built a snug home in the village outskirts and are now spending their time taking walks amidst the cactus plants or relaxing near the small river which meanders close to the local therapeutic mineral spring - the other source of pride to the people in Pushevo. It is perhaps interesting to note that even the oldest people living there have no idea how the cactus field first appeared near the village. They can only ascertain that these thorny plants multiply each year, covering a larger area. Locals are convinced that the exotic plants have a huge potential to boost tourism in this region, as they are unique to the whole of Europe. That is why interest in the cactus festival, held in the village of Pushevo, runs so high. Special brochures about the local cactuses and the legends connected with them have been published. Pushevo is also proud of its lilac, cornel-tree and hawthorn forests. The authorities are now working on a project for an eco-trail leading from the cactus field to the so-called Bozhur (Peony) meadow, another famed attraction with its fiery red plants. Thus, the little village of Pushevo is slowly turning into a huge tourist attraction that will soon take its place on the Bulgarian tourist map.
English version: Kostadin Atanasov
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