Kiselchovo village is located somewhere in the Rhodope mountains, very close to the border between Bulgaria and Greece. It’s like you’ve reached the end of the world. It is a cosy place to get lost and find yourself again after long wanderings in the urban desert.

Let’s leave that polluted and noisy Plovdiv behind and find our way through the mountain. Step by step we reach our destination which is now Smilian village. A burst of youthful energy can be felt there. The Rhodope mountains are majestic. Its all-encompassing wisdom, is gathered in one song, sung by Valia Balkanska. She was born in a neighborhood, close to the springs of Arda river. One song sung by her is a part of the Voyager Golden Record and it can be heard at cosmic space.

This energy for life and creation has attracted poetess Mona Choban from Paris to the valley of Gorna Arda, which is the bosom of the Rhodope mountain spirit. For several years, she has created a heaven for real life – arts and crafts center “Artel-13”. She Inspired the old barns for new life, recover the main square with the work of volunteers and made spiritual paths through the Bardovo Bardo Fest (traditional folk singing of the bards).

“We have given up every convenience, that cost oneself endless hours in glass offices. We have strong hands and head on our shoulders, we live with conscience and gratitude. We have the chance to enjoy grandmother’s cheese, beans, potatoes, honey, and everything that grows on earth. We know that one day our life will come to an end, so we have devoted ourselves to live it fully, truly and completely.”

Mona barely speaks. She prefers to write and express her thoughts in books. Up there, underneath the stars, the silence can be heard, and the morning dew drops are living water. You can enjoy here thematic workshops in a wonderful company. Each time you can meet new people. They are a gift of fate. Hidden pearls can be found in the caves, the views of the fortified walls and the colors of the rugs are majestic. People value the words up there. The Rhodopes are a place of peace, creativity and caressing the soul. It’s a place for pure living.

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