ORCA TOWN, SOZOPOL: A Place That Knows No Sleep
What you see in this photo is the faces of people who haven't slept for a week. This is Orca Town, the impromptu beach camp built by a group of young fun loving Bulgarians who spend their summers here in the beach town of Sozopol on the Black Sea.
Every year, at the start of the season they rebuild this camp. And every year it gets better. There are toilet facilities, showers, a kitchen area, hammocks to sleep on and a wooden structure with tables and chairs underneath and a giant net roof that you can climb onto and chill out in with blankets, food and the ever present thump thump of the house music from the sound system.
It is built with such love, care and enthusiasm. Jerry rigged together just so these 20 somethings can hang out on their favourite beach together and have a place to party.
And Kris (far left) and his brother Ivan (far right) are our friends and two of the guys responsible for building this place. They are rightly proud of it. But I am getting old now. And the house music, drinking and partying that went on all night and all day, every night and every day started to wear us down after a while. On our last night there were 3 competing sound systems. The Orca Town perma-party and then two beach parties either side of us. We slept on the beach which was the furthest point from all three systems but we still felt the pounding in our chests from the gigantic stacks that rang out through the clear night air. At one point there was a dune buggy race around us and then some fireworks went off. I think this was day four or five without sleep. I lost track.
But Sozopol is changing quickly. When Orca Town was first built they were nearly the only people on this stretch of beach. Now the big hotels, and tourist industry, powered in no small part by mafia money has moved in and twice now the little beach community has been told to move further up the beach to make room for bars that will make money and attract tourists. And often these tourists wonder into the camp, thinking it's another bar. This means that there have been things stolen from people's stuff. which was never the case when it was just friends on a deserted beach. The Orca Town founders are considering moving to another beach now. Or closing all together. Either way, this is nearly the end of the road for the camp and however sleep deprived I was, it was an honour to have been shown it.