I went to Arizona a few years ago to visit my good Bulgarian friends Irina and Georgi Ganev. I used this trip as an opportunity to explore the southern part of the state. My friend Irina told me that she had a surprise destination where she wanted to take me; a place that with no doubt will remind me of our Bulgarian heritage. What could possibly even remind me of my native land in this desert like part of the US I asked myself..
Bemused in our girl’s talk, we did not realize how fast the last two hours passed, and all of the sudden, we found ourselves in Florence, AZ; that is where this secret place was located. However, it was not this 145 years old town that was supposed to be the focus on our trip. The secret place that my friend wanted to show me was rather a sacred one; St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery. I could not believe my eyes; we were in Arizona, in the middle of the desert, and yet, we stood in front of a so familiar to us Eastern Europeans building; an Orthodox Monastery.
The monastery is dedicated to St. Anthony the father of monasticism and has been built in 1995, when six monks arrived in the desert of Arizona to pursuit their dream and establish Orthodox Monastery. When we first walked in we were politely asked to cover our heads with scarves and keep our voices in order not to disturb the monks and other visitors. A cold cup of water (very desirable in Sonora Desert) and something sweet is offered to all visitors to make them feel very welcomed. The monastery is self guided and closes its doors at 3pm every afternoon so the monks can take care of their daily duties.
I will stop my story here, and I will let you enjoy the pictures.