Decades ago, when the village of Kamen Bryag was still an agricultural settlement, homes looked outwards and, in the hours before twilight, villagers sat on roadside benches to greet and gossip with passersby. Today, as the old agricultural generation dies off and the vacation villas of urbanites take their place, homes look inward and their inhabitants relax and socialize in the privacy of backyards and walled compounds.
Fertile soil, a flat plateau, and a shoreline of steep cliffs shaped Kamen Bryag as an agricultural rather than fishing settlement — this despite its setting only few hundred meters from the edge of the Black Sea. Natives of the village rarely ventured down the steep paths to the seaside, in modern times leaving isolated coves to the whims of summer vacationers.
Geology transcends the ephemera of political borders. The great plain of the Ukraine curls southwestwards, across Moldava, Romania, and into the wheat growing region of the Dobruja in northeast Bulgaria, where it crashes into the Black Sea as per the photo above. From Asia into the Balkans, the plain has been a route of migration for Scythians, Sarmatae, Getae, Slavs, Bulgars, Cumans, Tatars, Kipchaks, and Pechenegs. It has also been a path of northeastern migration for Greeks, Romans, and the Seljuk ancestors of the Turkophone Christian people known as Gagaouze.
Hovering over the Black at the final reaches of the plain is the small windswept agricultural village of Kamen Bryag (Stone Beach), known in Ottoman times as Kayabeyköy (Feif of the Lord/Squire of Stone). Once a village of Bulgarian tenant farmers, its population was augmented in the 1930s by an influx of ethnic-Bulgarians from Romania, force-marched southwards during a population exchange between Bulgaria and Romania, a mutually agreed process of ethnic cleansing and national solidification at the expense of dispossessed peasants and villagers.
In the decades spanning the denouement of the communist period, Kamen Bryag became a summer gathering spot for self-styled bohemians and those seeking alternatives to mass tourism along sandy beaches. Today, as the last of its old villagers die off, Kamen Bryag hosts the summer villas of city folk and a number of small guest houses. Free-roaming goats, cows, geese, chickens, and turkeys no longer pack the streets of Kamen Bryag but, nevertheless, the air remains clean, the village remains quiet, and the local tomatoes, cucumbers, eggs, honey, and homemade grappa remain excellent.
Photographic Footnote …
The rich texture of stone and the crisp definition of clouds in the photo above is a function of accurate metering and the appropriate use of an orange filter — not to forget skilled printing.