…Missis Chudlarska is 91 years old. And she is like my third grandma…well appart from the fact that I have to share her with other hunderds of girls in the West Bohemia.

She has been teaching me (and nearly two thousand other girls) rhythmic gymnastics since I was eight years old. She was the one who suggested I can actually start training other people as well.

And she is the one I make sure I go to see, whenever I am back in Czech.

….this is my little tribute to her:

http://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/czech/en/article/2017/05/10/grandma-gymnast-still-following-her-passion-91

 

 

Val Paraiso…

March 27, 2017

…a place I would move to in a heartbeat.

Some days you just need something pretty. Sweet. Real. So here it is. Graffiti from Val Paraiso, Chile. It is not my Art, but I love the feeling it brings.

 

We were here only for two nights, but it was like a hug. From a wild, sexy hippie with smelly armpits. I loved it. Staying in a hostel Latinamericano wasn´t the best choice we could have made. The huge hostel is conveniently located near the bus station. But that is about it. It is a bit dodgy a scruffy and they tried to charge us a different price. And the main stuff is actually not happening in the centre, but in the hills above the city. I wans´ scared, because I am a big girl, but if you have the option, the hills are much better choice. There you can find the artists, the graffiti, the little streets and bars and hostels. It felt so real, so honest so raw.

At this time we were still counting the currency rate in a wrong way, so it all seemed a bit cheaper than it really was, so we had a great time. Everybody is so attractive in there. The suntanned dark guys with a boho look, grls with long, very long shiny dark hair. Nothing happened, but this exciting feeling was in hte air.

I can totally imagine my life sitting there in a coffe shop smoking a rolled ciggy (I am not a smoker, but there it just feels like that) and writing poems…well like Pablo Neruda did.

 

 

If You Forget Me – Poem by Pablo Neruda

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

 

How to get there? Just hop on a two hours bus from Santiago main bus station. They go pretty much every hour. There are many companies that go there. https://www.greentoadbus.com/en/Chile-bus-passes/Chile-bus-schedule-342 Book a hostel in advance. It is always busy there.

 

 

Just in case you wondered

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) Chile.

His real name is Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto.

He took the name Pablo Neruda in 1920, which he adopted in memory of the Czechoslovak poet Jan Neruda.

Alongside his literary activities, Neruda studied French and pedagogy at the University of Chile in Santiago. Between 1927 and 1935, the government put him in charge of a number of honorary consulships, which took him to Burma, Ceylon, Java, Singapore, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, and Madrid.

His poetic production during that difficult period included, among other works, the collection of esoteric surrealistic poems, Residencia en la tierra (1933), which marked his literary breakthrough.

In 1943, Neruda returned to Chile, and in 1945 he was elected senator of the Republic.

He also joinined the Communist Party of Chile. Because of his protests against President González Videla’s repressive policy against striking miners in 1947, he had to live underground in his own country for 2 years. He then managed to leave in 1949 to live in different European countries. He returned home in 1952.

…written with help from Wikipedia, https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1971/neruda-bio.html and https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/if-you-forget-me/

Peru

March 20, 2017

I´ve never been in a propper desert before. I couldn´t even imagine, how desperate a place can feel. And despite all that, there are people living there!

There is nothing but dust, yet you see people walking by the road, you see their little shelters and numerous, numerous posters.

These photos are from a 50 hours bus ride from Lima to Santiago. It is doable.

We took a Bus Sur cama bus to Tacna. (That is actually important, the seats in cama are so big and so comfortable, but semi cama is a normal bus. Still ok, but after 40 hours tall people may have some issues.)

 

To cross the boarder from Peru to Chile we hopped on a shared taxi and drove all the way down. We stayed overnight in Arica, which is a pretty chilled beach town at the border and then continued to Santiago. We booked the bus directly on the bus staion, there are many many bus companies that go all the way to Santiago.

It was the time when we were counting the conversion rate wrong, so we though everything was cheap. Well, turns out that it is a bit more than we thought…but hey, we hada good time.

 

NOTE: you can only pee in the toilet on the bus. 😀 I am happy to announce that nothing dramatical has happened. Also if you are going to trave this route, make sure you have plenty of water. The bus doesn´t stop and we were given more limonade than actual water. Also I´d recommend spending more time in Arica as there are apparently more sights to visit.

Amongst the locals Arica is a famous beach district, but to be honest the beaches were not that appealing. Much nicer were the onec in Inquike – a few hours ride down south from Arica.

Dear diary…back to Africa

February 29, 2016

JUST a Warning – this is not a journalistic article, but just a page from my diary, really.
this article is in English

Africa…my spell, my magnet, my second home. I get restless as soon as there is a slightest opportunity to go. And there was!
I was invired to Rwanda to train with Future Vision Acrobats! There was no way I was refusing this…

I wasn’t going alone – Pierre and Sylvain came with me.

And through their eyes I could experience it all as it was the first time again. Again I was surprised and impressed by the stuff people carry on their heads (even though a single shoe never fails to impress me anyway), I had to explain to the guys, that the bus goes…ehm, when it’ s FULL, not when is time..

...banana...

Again there was some bargaining on the market and amusing everyone around by trying so hard to say “thank you” in their language (in Kyniarwanda is not that hard, actually, MURAKOZE, the trouble starts when I THINK the thing I am saying is “thank you” but I am actually using a different word from my imaginery vocabulary of the local language that probably consists of something like threeg words).

...

...

photos by Sylvain

And again…the strong feel that everything is ok and I am here, I am, where I belong.

Just ride…
I love bike taxis. In Africa it is an amazing way of transport. Cheap, fast and ….well, kind of exciting. The smell of petrol, dust, the closeness of the body of the young driver usually dressed in a cool leather jacket…or cool jacket of some sort, his dark ripped arms and occasional quick glimpse in the side mirror….and am I imagining the winks?

The tight hugs – my hugs, to be precise – innocent, as obviously I don’t want to fall of the bike, right? I wonder, if they ever feel my heart beating. From both, excitement and fear of the fast ride through the buzzing African city, the joy of the wind in my hair and soft African air caressing my skin. In Rwanda it is all proper, you even get a helmet, the prices are pretty much set and the drivers are registered. But it doesn’t lose it’s magic. I still had tears in my eyes – and not because of the speed or irritation. But because of the feeling that I am finally home.

I jumped off the bike with shaky knees. Luckily my French crew survived as well…I probably shouldn’t admit this, but only when I was on the bike in nearly exatic state I have realized that I forgot to ask them, if they knew how to ride a bike. Ah well, they will have to “swim” and figure it out…and they, luckily, did. In fact, they loved it…and then I introduced them to the best beer in the world – Star – drunk with a street view and the buzz of a busy city.

In Africa many bars are upstairs. Sometimes the stairs are actually pretty rough, so I have no idea, how all the people who drink there make it down the stairs safely…but then, they’ll jump on a bike anyway, so the whole process of safe home returns of drunk people is a mystery.

If you are walking in the street and you crave a bit of something cold (which you always do, as the sun drains you and the constant noise, restless movement wears a spoiled European off pretty quickly) look up to the sky. You probably won’t call the rain, but I can pretty much guarantee, you will be able to locate the nearest bar/restaurant. And the beer is never expensive and most of the times nice and chilled.

Yum, yum, yum

Pierre is allergic to peanuts. And when I say allergic I mean extremely supermegaallergic, like he throws up pretty much when saying the word, can smell a peanut miles away so EATING an actual peanut…well, better not think about it. Now, this was a big worry to us, as in Africa a lot of the cooking is based on peanuts but also peanut oil, which is even more dangerous for us as it takes us a while to detect it.

I guess this allergy even though wide spread in Europe was quite a rarity for the locals. We got so many blank faces, when we tried to explain…and our poor Kinyarwanda language skills didn’t help either. Many times we were actually offered a bowl of peanuts, as the lovely personel thought that that actually IS what we are after. When we mastered our negotiation on the absence of the actual peanuts in the food, the next challenge was to explain that we also don’t want any peanut oil…
Now I am safe to say, that we failed big time only once, which gave Pierre one harsh afternoon spend by hugging the toilet. (luckily for everyone involved the water was working) and luckily that was all….uuuuf.
But apart from that my French (translated food loving, photos of home cooked food sending) fellow travelers enjoyed their first ever dining out experience in Subsaharan Africa.

DSCF5149
…fou fou – not my favourite, but my Frenchies loved it

I have to admit, I totally love it. All the cookeries and eateries have this “homie cutie” feeling and an unmistakable style. Plastic chairs of different coulour, usually with plastic flowers and a decoration on the wall and usually the photo of the president on the wall.

Nothing happens in a rush..the opposite, actually. What a difference to a crazy busy sweaty Sydney caffés, where waitresses would break up in tears every weekend as the stress was too much to cope with.
In Africa no. There is time and a person for everything. There is the mamma at the counter. She is the money person. Then there is the waiter, usually a young, cool styled guy. Sometimes he would give you this too cool for school attitude, but at the same time get totally confused by your order. Or there would be a lovely lady, who may be a bit slower than your average waiter, but nearly therapeutic in her calmness and gentleness. I just love the way the lady talked to us, presented the menu in a smooth, gentle way with the tiny bracelets shining on her forearm and then came back to actually explain that what we ordered is actually not available that day that, in fact, they have only the same dish as everyone else…only their menu (the paper one, I mean) looks a bit fancier that anyone elses.

Every restaurant/eatery would also have a runner (or fixer, but that is a different level). You usually don’t see him, but it is the person who would make it happen. So for example. There is a power outage in the area – happens. Yet these three tourists want cold beer. This person would get it. Even though it may mean jumping on a back of a bike and riding for the chilled beer to the local market, or getting a fresh fish from God-knows-where. It was delicious and definitely worth every minute of the wait.

…the best news

October 19, 2015

…ever? well, I guess it is pretty obvious….yeeeeee! I have a flight ticket to Africa! My love! My itchy feet are (temporarily) satisfied!

kolo_small

In December we will join The Future Vision Acrobats from Gysenyi in Rwanda and train with them. I am very honoured, to be honest, that I was invited can teach dance classes!

I can´t wait! I will keep on posting the news here, so that you guys know, what is going on.

And since then, there are still plenty, plenty photos from my previous trips to Rwanda that I want to share..and the closer our trip is, the more I go through them again and again. You can never leave Africa!

Many thanks for reading my blog!

…instant coffee…

October 17, 2015

“I am a barrista I am NOT a waiter “– was the welcome sentence from the quite sexy (if you like beard) hipster-looking guy behind the coffee machine. “Well, I am not a damn waitress either”, I wanted to reply, “I am a journalist,” (imagine the victory tone here) but then I bit my tongue.
Which has turned out to be a good idea.
He then told me that on that they we were using coffee from Ethiopia, which made my day – and I have expressed it. He seemed to be pleased. “So you know something about coffee?” “…well, not exactly, but I was I Ethiopia few months ago, and I love the way they make their coffee…” but that was it. I lost his attention. He didn´t care about Ethiopia, nor the way they make their coffee or my travels! His coffee was the VII (Very Important Item )
And this was my introduction to Sydney´s coffee scene.
The barrista is the god. The longer he has worked in a coffee shop, the more respect you should show him. It felt……ehm…funny. Like: “I am sorry, I was too busy getting a uni degree and travelling, and you have been already pouring coffee! “ (ok, I have to admit that a really nice one, with a shape of a swan from the milk froth)
But this was also the first insight in the reality of immigrants. Foreigners. Newcomers. Overseas…whatever you decide to call us. People who often left their skilled positions in their country to start a new life, follow their partners, dreams, sunbathe, surf or escape a war… People, who have to start again from scratch.
“In Mexico I was a lawyer,” said once a cook to me, I´ve met a barrista, who was a vet back at home and the kitchen hand is a French fashion photographer. On a student visa they are now counting every cent to make it work. But this is freedom.
Was this the lesson I needed? Just a mirror to show me that more than your education and experience the way you treat people (and yourself) is what matters the most in the end…oh and the milk swan, of course 😀

this article is in English

Martina is the same age as me. We both love dancing and we danced together in a dance group since we were kids. A year ago everything changed.
Doing a simple excercise Martina fell down. And never got up.
The energetic pretty blondie has been on a wheel chair ever since.
martina
d72d6d3deb

For somebody who loves to dance, trains many hours a day this would be the end of the world…or a new beginning. Martina has picked up all her strength and came back to spotlight only a year after her accident, creating choreographies for dancers and dancers with wheels.
e-motion

It might sound easy as, but actually: every day, every training, every roll of a wheel is a big fight for her as after the accident she is quadruplegic, with a limited use of her hands.
She needs assistance as teh once strong and beautiful arms are now like a wings of a broken butterfly. Martina is not giving up though and uses them in such a innovative way, as well as her wheels and the fact that now she is different.

There are not that many inspirational, strong and brave people around us. But Martina is one of them and it is my honour to be part of her team.

articles about Martina:
http://plzensky-kraj.5plus2.cz/martina-hendrichova-tanec-uraz-dmp-/plzen.aspx?c=A140407_190926_ppd-plzen_p2lad
http://plzensky.denik.cz/kultura_region/zatanci-v-buena-viste-aby-pomohli-sve-kamaradce-20130605.html
http://pravednes.cz/HenrichovaMartina.profil

this article is in English
Freetown, Sierra Leone – …I don´t even remember the day we met. It must have been four years ago now. Momoh was one of many disabled people, most of them polio and war victims, living in extremely poor conditions in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

...celebrating the Disability day - Freetown, Sierra Leone...

…celebrating the Disability day – Freetown, Sierra Leone…


I spoke to these guys, we spent many hours just talking about life, how they were doing…and word gave a word and this young tailor, called Momoh, started to make skirts (and later bags and trousers) for me, and my friends, and friends of friends…
It has been quite a while now, since I have visited him for the last time, but we are still in touch and via travelling people we are still getting skirts and bags to Europe. Momoh is so reliable – one phone – call and off he goes – to the market, back to the sewing machine and at the day when agreed, he is always ready. Even though House of Jesus – well – most of Freetown as I recall, struggles with energy supplies – he manages to get it done and deliver the skirts on time.

...working...

…working…

And today is THE day. A friend of mine is traveling back to Europe, so the amazing young tailor grasped his chance. However difficult (very, trust me) for him it is to walk, he went to a hotel, where he agreed to meet the traveller, he just called me to say, he´s done it!

Today he made enough money to pay his school fees for few months…or to feed his extended family for weeks.
I am so proud and happy I have met Momoh. Every now and then, when I moan over this and that, I remind myself of this young guy, who nearly died, but managed to survive. Who was kicked out of the house, as there “was no place for cripples and y parents had other kids to take care off”, has problems with walking as his legs never fully recovered and lives in a way, that would be considered the edge of society….well…however bad his starting points in life were, whenever I call, he smiles, sais “no problem” and on top of that he is a real pro – he works his butt off and does his job really well!

Ladies and gentleman….meat Momoh!

Momoh, 2012

Momoh, 2012

Happy …2014!

January 2, 2014

This article is in English
Dear readers, guests and friends,
have a great start to New year.
2013 was magic, weird, sad, surprisingg, happy, but not boring at all!
to finish off, here is a NY greeting from a middle of some forest in Czech mountains, where we climbed to celebrate the year…

DSC01471

so…SANTÉ, CHEERS, NAZDRAVÍ, NAZRDORWIE …and let´s make 2014 worth blogging 🙂

This article is in English

Press Release for the Dorothy Springer Trust

Odd yes, but not useless!

Over a hundred good quality shoes donated to single legged amputees

Šárka Pechová/ Freetown

Who would need odd shoes in Michigan, US? Probably nobody – but being born and having lived in Sierra Leone, Alhaji. H.A. Jawad knew there would be a use for the shoes – single legged amputees could wear them! And so instead of throwing them away, he shipped them to Freetown.

Thanks to this excellent idea, on Monday 16th January the former British High Commissioner Peter Penfold and the Dorothy Springer Trust, on behalf of  Mr. Jawad of the Family Kingdom Resort, officially donated the shoes to the Sierra Leonean Union for Disability Issues (SLUDI).

“I am sure here the shoes are in a right place and will find their way to those who need them most,” said Mr. Penfold. The single shoes will now be distributed amongst Sierra Leone´s amputees: the Amputee Football Team, the War Wounded and the Single Legged Amputees.

Peter Penfold and Dr. Abs Dumbuya with president of SLUDI,Mr Kabba F. Bangura

“We would like to thank Mr. Jawad for his excellent idea and effort to ship the shoes from America to Salone. Great thanks also goes to Mr. Kawas and Mr.Sharah., shoe sellers, who kindly donated the shoes,” concluded Peter Penfold when presenting five full bags containing a huge variety of footwear.

“I would like to express our gratitude and we will make sure that we make the best use of these shoes,” said Mr Kabba Franklin Bangura, president of SLUDI whilst overlooking the donation. “There are different sizes and styles so I am sure we will find something to suit everyone.”

He also added that luckily the children´s single shoes might stay untouched: “I am happy to say that we don´t have many single legged children in the country, and let´s pray it stays like this” added Mr. Bangura.

Odd shoes from US are going to help in Sierra Leone