Humansof Prague: what’s your story?

You’ve certainly heard of Humansof New York, a collection of stories of people from the city, gathered randomly on the streets. It usually starts with a question: ,,May I take a picture of you?” and it can lead to a depth of people’s souls. In Prague we have our humans too…but I was particularly interested in one. The author, who is never seen on the photographs or talks about himself: Tomáš Princ. 


What will decide if you approch the person or not? 

On a busy street I pick someone who is visually appealing. But most of the times I approach someone sitting alone on the bench because it’s more likely that they would have time to talk.

What is their most common reaction?

Often they say ,,better not” and walk away, or they do not even look at me. In parks I’m more successful. They notice me at least and if they don’t want to talk to me, they decline in a polite way.

Does it happen that people are rude or aggresive? 

Rarely. Over the three years and thousands of encounters it has happened probably only twice. I try to explain to them why I do it – not because they look weird. But sometimes they said: ,,fuck off”.

It’s probably not a very nice feeling to be rejected many times a day…

I don’t take it personally. People have reasons to behave like that.  Maybe they have some problems in their lives or are in a hurry. I do not see inside their heads. So I better ask someone else, it’s simple.



When you go to the city to take pictures of people, how successful you usually are? 

On a busy street where people are constantly stopped and offered something, they often do not even listen what I say to them. About 70% of people reject. But in parks more than a half agrees.

Humansof Prague is about men, women, old people, young…Are some groups of people more difficult to talk to? 

It doesn’t work so well with businessmen for example. When I approach them near offices where they work, it rarely results in something interesting.

Often you talk to people in the last phase of their lives. Do you find any recurring thought in their stories? 

Old people usually talk about their past. Over the years I’ve also realized how many old people face solitude.

You also talk with homeless people. Do their stories have something in common? 
Homeless people are often pigeonholed. In reality each story about why people lost home is completely different.


The talks with people are often on a very peronal note. How do you achieve that within a couple-of-minute talk? 

I try to fully focus on the people I talk to. If they are open, I listen to them, look for something special in their lives, and ask for details.

Do you recall any recent story, which has particularly touched you?

There was a young boy who was abused by his dad when he was a child. He talked very openly about what it had felt like and how it’s been affecting his life. We’ve met a couple of times and maybe that’s also why it was more intense than others.
What do you personally get from talking to people? 

It brings together my hobbies: walking and photopraphy. Even before I used to go to the city to take pictures. And although I’m an introvert, I’ve always enjoyed talking to, and meeting, people.

For an introvert, isn’t it demanding to daily talk to strangers? 

Some days I don’t feel like doing it but I always challenge myself. Ten years ago I would not have probably been able to do it. Since then I’ve met many different people and gained more experience. After graduation I went to South Korea to teach English or to Kenya where I communciated with people in slums. Once I was back, Humansof Prague seemed like a great idea. And after three years of doing it, it truly isn’t that hard to talk to people on the street.


You hear different ideas, points of views…have any inspired you in your life?

What I get is the positive energy. And when I’m in some situation I remember for example that other people have also experienced it and I think about how they solved it. But I cannot say that it would have too big an impact on me. I started with Humansof Prague when I was 28 and that’s the age when you already have many things sorted. More than a life guidance I look for diversity of people.

Popularity of blogs of all different topics has been increasing. How do you feel like a blogger? 

Bloggers usually publicly share their lives and opinions and others can get inspired by it. My blog is different because I do not talk about myself but about others.

Bloggers are able to influence lives of many people. Your influence with a hundred thousand followers is also relevant. 

People usually follow some blogger because they can identify with them. My blog is about diversity of people and every opinion is different. People start to follow Humansof Prague because they identify with some story but next day they find a story where the person has a completely different point of view from theirs. That’s why followers of Humansof Prague must be open to difference.

For many bloggers blogging is a job. What about you? 

The first seven months it was only a hobby. In spring 2014 a Czech national newspaper (Hospodářské noviny) became a sponsor. They support me and I can devote to the blog three days a week without a need of advertisement.

Are companies interested in cooperation? 

Some companies were interested but I declined. People like Humansof Prague for its content. However, the cooperation would bring benefit to me but not to the blog. I’m grateful for the support of the newspaper because they do not comment on the content.


This year you’ve become a Blogger of the year and you’ve got support to make a printed version of the blog. Are you interested?  

Very much. At the moment I’m talking to various publishing houses and I hope it will work out.

Blog is an online medium. Do you think that it can work also as a book? 

In social media people can comment on it and it makes sense it is online in the first place. However, it has its potential as a book too. The basis is a photo and a story and this can work also in print. It will be also a honour for me to see the result of my three-year work in one piece.

Is there an additional value for readers? 

Not everyone has access to the blog online so in this way I can reach a new fan group. There are also more than a thousand of stories and the interesting ones are slowly disappearing in the amount. For the book I would choose only the most attractive ones.


A current phenomenon is that the content is born first online and only later as a book. Does it mean that internet is more successfull in reaching people?

It definitely is a good platform. But it reaches only a specific group whereas others still go for books. It’s a question of generation. The most important, after all, is the quality of content, no matter if it’s online or published.


Humansof Prague is a Czech version of Humansof New York. Is there any difference between them? 

Humansof – projects are all over the world but each author is different and so is each encounter with people. The form of a story with a photo can be used in many ways. Some are more focused on photography, mine for example on stories. When I go through my archive, I see big changes over time. As I’m getting more experienced in talking to people, stories get more in depth.

One of the questions you ask people is: what have you been thinking of lately? What about you? 

I focus more on work these days. I try to be critical to myself. Otherwise…I don’t even know. When I talk to people, they either talk about their work or they get more emotional and contemplate about their lives. But I’m probably not at a “philosophical”stage right now.

Tomáš Princ’s Humansof Prague 


S vlčí hlídkou

Kdysi vyhubení vlci se vrátili do českých lesů. Před dvěma měsíci se na Kokořínsku narodila další čtyři mláďata, a ochranáři i dobrovolníci vyrážejí do lesů po jejich stopách.

Do mailu jsem dostala pouze dvě geografické souřadnice: zeměpisná šířka a délka. Žádná budova nebo pamětihodnost či přírodní úkaz, podle něhož bych se mohla orientovat. A žádné další instrukce, jen čas setkání jednu červencovou sobotu v devět ráno. Začíná to dobrodružně a doufám, že ještě větší dobrodružství mě čeká – vyrážím totiž na vlčí hlídku.

Před dvěma roky se v Chráněné krajinné oblasti Kokořínsko-Máchův kraj, kam mě souřadnice přivedly, zalíbilo párečku vlků natolik, že se tam usadili a založili rodinu. dnes už tvoří smečku o přibližně sedmi jedincích a před dvěma měsíci k nim přibyla ještě čtyři mláďata. členové environmentální organizace Hnutí DUHA proto pravidelně jezdí do kokořínských lesů vlky monitorovat.

zdroj - AOPK ČR

Letošní přírůstek do kokořínské smečky

Na podobné vlčí hlídky vyrážejí ochránci přírody celoročně – kromě Kokořínska i v Beskydech, Jeseníkách a Bílých Karpatech. Nejčetněji však chodí od podzimu do jara, kdy je v plném proudu lovecká sezona a zvířata čelí většímu ohrožení. Navíc stopy jsou na sněhu či mokrém povrchu nejlépe viditelné.

Na území Česka se vlci vrátili roku 1994. Přitom na našem území bývali po člověku druhým nejrozšířenějším druhem, ale s počátkem 18. století se rozjela jejich systematická likvidace, až byli zcela vyhubeni – poslední vlk byl zastřelen 5. března 1915 u Bukovce v Beskydech (na místě dodnes stojí pomník v upomínku oné události). o osmdesát let později se však na stejné místo psí šelma vrátila – pár jedinců tam přešlo ze sousedního Slovenska. A v roce 2014 zaznamenali ochránci zvířat vlky i na Kokořínsku, kam pár kusů přesídlilo z Německa.

Lesem za stopami

GPS navigace mě podle souřadnic zavede na lesní stezku na Dokesku. Nikde žádný jasný orientační bod, všude jen stromy. Stojím sama uprostřed lesa. Po chvíli se ke mně pomalu přibližuje asi desetičlenná skupinka lidí. Je to vedoucí mojí vlčí hlídky s pár dobrovolníky. Jeden z nich, který si říká Canis podle latinského názvu pro vlka obecného Canis lupus, mě přivítá zdařile provedeným vlčím zavytím. ,,Když budeme mít štěstí, uslyšíme je večer na živo,“ říká natěšeně koordinátor vlčí hlídky Hnutí DUHA Olomouc Jiří Beneš.

Plán je následující: rozdělíme se do malých skupin a za celý den projdeme území o čtyřech stech kilometrech čtverečních, na němž se vlci pohybují. S Benešem a třemi dobrovolníky se konečně vydáváme na cestu. Já s nadějí, že se nám podaří nějakého živého vlka alespoň zahlédnout. ostatní mě však hned vyvedou z omylu. Vlka většinou nikdy nepotkali ani sami koordinátoři, přestože se monitoringu věnují léta. ,,Lidé se do hlídek často hlásí proto, že chtějí vidět vlka. Musíme je potom zklamat, že se jim to pravděpodobně nepodaří,“ říká Beneš.


“Pobytové znaky”

Cíl je jinde: v pátrání po takzvaných pobytových znacích. Co se tím myslí, poznám záhy, když se z ničeho nic zastavíme. Před námi leží několik seschlých chlupatých kousků. Prý jsme narazili na první úlovek – vlčí trus. dobrovolníci se okamžitě pustí do práce. Rozloží si okolo náčiní, nález změří vyfotí, zaznamenají jeho množství a geografickou polohu a nakonec jej zabalí s sebou, aby se v laboratoři mohly provést testy DNA. ,,Bereme všechno, co najdeme, někdy toho mám plný mrazák a docela to smrdí,“ říká dobrovolnice Nela Kumpoštová, co bývá jedinou nevýhodou úspěšných nálezů.

Jakmile mají vše zdokumentováno, pokračujeme jsme v cestě. ,,Ježíš, to je krásný,“ slyšíme po chvíli od dobrovolnice Hanky, která jde pár metrů před námi. Podle nadšené reakce soudím, že musela narazit na nějakou významnou trofej. Jde však opět o trus. Tentokrát to je pěkná hromádka a ještě docela čerstvá. ,,To tady musel projít před chvílí,“ říká Nela a člověku se na chvíli zatají dech při pocitu, že nás vlk třeba právě odněkud pozoruje. ,,Není to náhodou granuláč?“ zapochybuje Beneš a myslí tím, zda nejde o trus psa. klacíky úlovek pozorně prozkoumávají. ,,Á, tady je kus kosti,“ pochvaluje si Hanka, a tím se potvrzuje, že je opravdu vlka, protože obsahuje chlupy a kosti.

Další nález je už opravdu unikát. opravdová stopa. Nejdříve padají dohady, zda i v tomto případě není psa, protože vzhledem se psí stopa nedá od té vlčí rozeznat. Po podrobnějším zkoumání však skupina dochází k závěru, že se jedná o vlka. Jsou osm centimetrů dlouhé ve vzdálenosti šedesáti centimetrů od sebe, což by vlkovi odpovídalo, a objevují se také pravidelně za sebou v řadě, zatímco pes spíše kličkuje ze strany na stranu a značkuje. Nutno podotknout, že se neprodíráme žádným křovím, ale po celou dobu jdeme po udržované lesní cestě a kolem nás projelo i několik cyklistů. ,,Poukazuje to na to, že s přítomností lidí nemá vlk problém,“ říká Beneš. Jsou sice plaší a jakmile člověka zaregistrují, schovají se, život v blízkosti civilizace jim však nevadí.


Vzácný úlovek – vlčí trus

Nalezený materiál dokáže o šelmách mnohé prozradit. Trus slouží k analýzám DNA, podle nichž se zjišťuje pohlaví a příbuznost s jinými vlky a dá se následně rozpoznat, zda se v oblasti objevil nový jedinec a odkud přišel. Potravní analýzy určují skladbu vlčí potravy a parazitologické analýzy dokáží odhalit přítomnost virů a parazitů, které by mohly představovat například riziko vyhynutí celé smečky. Hnutí DUHA skrz hlídky získává informace o šelmách již přes patnáct let, mezi nejnovější poznatky patří návrat vlka do Jeseníků.

V Česku nyní žije přibližně dvacet vlků, převážně se pohybují v Beskydech, Jeseníkách, na Šumavě a Kokořínsku. Někteří sem občas zavítají z Polska a Slovenska a pak se zase vrátí, kromě kokořínské smečky se letos usadila ještě jedna na Broumovsku a také čítá přibližně sedm členů. To je na smečku již dostatečný počet a jakmile se vlčí rodinka začne dále rozrůstat, nejstarší potomci si budou muset hledat domov jinde. Na Kokořínsku se vlci objevili právě proto, že na německo-polském pomezí v oblasti Lužice, odkud přišli, je jejich populace už nasycená. Nárůst vlků lze tedy v následujících letech očekávat i na českém území. Aby byla populace stabilní, musí čítat alespoň pět set zvířat, takže jejich přemnožení v Česku na dlouhou dobu nehrozí.

I proto je obtížné na vlka narazit a pokud jej chceme opravdu spatřit, pak jedině na fotografiích. kontrola a výměna fotopasti je dalším bodem programu mé vlčí hlídky. A lov se jí vskutku podařil. Zachytila jelena, pořádný kus, kterému zrovna dorůstá paroží, tlupu pasoucích se flekatých daňků, párek divokých prasat… a já žasnu. Po cestě na chalupu občas zahlédnu leda tak srnku a tady mám před očima neobvyklé defilé divoké zvěře. Moji společníci jim však nevěnují žádnou pozornost a netrpělivě fotky přeskakují. Nakonec se přece jen zastaví. Z displeje na nás shlíží mladý vlk, který se dívá přímo do objektivu. Na dalším snímku cení tesáky. Fotopast jej zachytila z bezprostřední blízkosti a poskytla zatím nejlepší fotku vlka, jakou se v Česku ochranářům podařilo pořídit. ,,No to je bomba,“ komentuje Beneš. ,,Takové záběry jsme tu ještě neměli.“


Úlovek z fotopasti

Útěk do přírody

Do monitoringu šelem se Beneš pustil proto, že jej ubíjelo korporátní prostředí, ve kterém se jako manažer služeb nadnárodní společnosti léta pohyboval. ,,Teď vydělávám asi třetinu toho, co předtím, ale dělám něco, co mě naplňuje,“ nedá Beneš na změnu zaměstnání a životního stylu dopustit. To dobrovolníka a učitele matematiky a fyziky Radka Kříčka zase nadchlo, když se dověděl, že se vlk objevil i v blízkosti jeho bydliště na Děčínsku, a chtěl se o šelmách něco dovědět. ,,Fascinuje mě ten pocit, že když jdu lesem, ony můžou být někde okolo mě,“ vysvětluje. A další se přidávají čistě proto, že rádi tráví čas v přírodě. ,,Do lesa bych si vyšla stejně a takhle ještě dělám něco užitečného,“ říká hana Ringlová, která jako dobrovolnice chodí po vlčích stopách pravidelně už pět let.


A nejde jen o vlky. ,,Tady proběhla kuna,“ ukazuje na stopu v písku Nela, zatímco běžný člověk by si jí buď vůbec nevšiml, a nebo by jen konstatoval, že tam bylo nějaké zvíře. Na hlídkách se jejich členové učí o přírodě, navíc tráví volný čas s lidmi, s nimiž mají mnoho společného. ,,Zajímáme se o životní prostředí, snažíme se ho šetřit a je mezi námi i hodně vegetariánů,“ popisuje Hanka, jaký typ lidí se do hlídek nejčastěji zapojuje.

Pokud chce člověk začít mýtické šelmy pravidelně stopovat, musí nejprve absolvovat víkendové školení, aby uměl pobytové znaky správně rozpoznat. A připojit se lze třeba jen na jednu hlídku. Počet zájemců se v posledních letech zvyšuje, v současnosti mají vlčí a rysí hlídky hnutí duhA na sto padesát vyškolených dobrovolníků. ,,Šelmy v česku jsou lidmi vnímány většinou pozitivně,“ komentuje Beneš. Z loňského průzkumu Fakulty sociálních studií Masarykovy univerzity v Brně vyplývá, že výskyt šelem na českém území přijímá nadpoloviční většina dotázaných.

Přesto o nich stále kolují nejrůznější mýty. ,,Nejčastěji si lidé myslí, že je vlk nebezpečný a při setkání s ním hrozí napadení,“ popisuje Beneš, s jakými reakcemi se ze strany veřejnosti setkává. Od návratu psí šelmy do česka roku 1994 však nedošlo k jedinému útoku na člověka.  Lidé jej také vnímají jako škůdce a krvelačného zabijáka domácích zvířat. Podle Beneše však případů, kdy vlk sežere například ovci, nebývá mnoho a dochází k nim většinou v situacích, kdy nejsou hospodářská zvířata hlídaná. Přítomnosti vlka si čeští sedláci odvykli. když se však prokáže, že zvíře bylo napadené chráněným živočichem, mezi které vlk patří, má chovatel nárok na odškodné od státu.

Kdo proti šelmám brojí v české společnosti nejvíce, jsou myslivci. vadí jim, že likvidují zvěř, kterou by si oni rádi lovili sami. ,,Vlk je doktor lesa a dokáže redukovat populaci spárkaté zvěře (jeleni, mufloni, srnci, divočáci), která je v Česku přemnožená a v přírodě páchá velké škody,“ vysvětluje úlohu šelmy v krajině Beneš. Jedním z hlavních cílů hlídek je tak ochrana pomalu a opatrně se rozrůstajících vlčích smeček. ,,Naší neustálou přítomností na území, kde se vlci pohybují, odrazujeme potenciální pytláky,“ říká Beneš. loni na podzim byl jeden z kokořínských vlků nalezen mrtvý. Co bylo příčinou, se dodnes neví, ale s největší pravděpodobností zahynul lidskou rukou. Při monitoringu ochranáři nezřídka narážejí na masité návnady, takzvané újedě, které kromě „škodné“, za niž se považuje například liška, dokáží nalákat i chráněné šelmy. Jejich volné ponechání v krajině je nezákonné a pokud je ochranáři najdou, podávají oznámení místní veterinární správě.


Letošní přírůstek do kokořínské smečky

Úspěšný lov

Den se chýlí ke konci a vlka jsme ani koutkem oka nezahlédli, přesně jak ochránci už ráno předpovídali. o mimořádné zážitky však na hlídkách nouze nebývá. ,,Jednou na nás vyběhla bachyně se selaty, utíkali jsme jako o život,“ sdílí svou nejsilnější vzpomínku Nela. I když je teoreticky vlk nebezpečnější než divoké prase, největší hrozbu pro člověka v české přírodě představuje právě divočák.

A o zpestření se dokáže postarat i počasí. dobrovolníci pamatují, jak se za vlčími stopami brodili v závějích sněhu, nás uprostřed lesa zastihla pořádná bouřka, jedna z těch prudkých, které se letos v létě Českem prohnaly. Promočení na kost jsme se vrátili k tábořišti, kde se už pomalu scházeli i ostatní členové vlčí výpravy.

,,Dnešek byl velmi úspěšný. Jsou dny, kdy nenajdeme vůbec nic,“ komentuje výsledky hlídky Beneš. Začíná se smrákat a zatímco pomalu zalézáme do spacáku v jeskyni, kde přečkáme noc, pro vlky nastává ta správná chvíle vyjít si na procházku. Panuje hrobové ticho, sem tam jen zapraská větvička. Třeba to byl právě vlk. usínali jsme s nadějí, že zaslechneme vlčí zavytí. ,,Jednou jsem ho slyšela. Je to opravdu mystický zážitek a odměna za to, co děláme,“ říká Hanka.

Publikováno v příloze Lidových novin Pátek 29.7.2016

Robert Fulghum: “I feel like 40”

He lives in the USA and part of the year in Crete but he’s slowly becoming a Czech. After his massive summer tour through 40 Czech cities he knows the Czech Republic better than many natives. ,,If Trump becomes a president, I’ll move here” says Robert Fulghum, who still has many plans in life. He feels like 40 years old and apart from writing he wants to try also shoe making.

IMG_2957 (1)

I know that you like the Czech Republic but after intense travelling throughout the whole country, aren’t you a bit fed up with us?

No way! You know, the kind of writing I give is about people and that’s why I wanted to travel through the whole Czech Republic, not only Prague, and I wanted to talk to them. Everyone has a story. Such kind of story you’ve heard from your dad or granddad millions of times. Everyone has it and I want to hear them. Meeting readers gives me as much as what I give. It’s fuel of my life and I’m very grateful that although my body is around already for 80 years, I’m still able to do it.

You turned 79 only recently and you already talk about yourself as about 80-years-old?

That’s funny. When you ask a 4-year-old, he says that he’s 4 and a half. So OK. I’m 79 and 2 months but I feel like 40.

You’ve visited the Czech Republic for the 10th time but this time you’ve been to places not even many Czech people have ever visited. What new have you learnt about us?

I didn’t know what a beautiful landscape here was. I’ve visited places which I wouldn’t as a tourist but in every single one I’ve found something interesting.

Are you taking home any interesting story from the tour?

From every single city I’ve got one. I was strongly moved by moments in which I’d a feeling as if I’d already met the people before. There was for example a man who asked me to sign a book for Lenka. That’s his mum who likes to read my books. Then he realized that I had no idea who Lenka was, we saw each other for the first time in our lives. Some kind of connection has been between us for years, though. That’s why I went for the tour, after all: not so that readers saw me, but I wanted to see them. Each reading I took a picture of them and when I write my next book, I’ll look at the photos and I’ll know who I’m writing for.

So you get on well with Czechs?

I’ve been to Austria, Poland or Hungary but I do not feel the same there. I can’t really tell why but I simply feel well here. You’re very friendly. I remember one of the very first press conferences in the Czech Republic. Journalists had read my story about tree climbing and they wanted to interview me sitting on branches. I was fascinated: they were willing to climb trees to talk to me! That was the moment when I learnt that Czechs and I would be good friends….

… and that’s also why Czechs have a privilege to have rights to your books? If American publishers want to publish one of your last books, they have to ask for permission a Czech publisher.

The Czech publishing house is like my family, we’re good friends. When you ask me how many friends I have in publishing houses in New York, I will say: none. Book publishing is a big business over there. Publishers probably do not even read books, it’s about money and I feel like a machine to produce books to make them profit. I miss a human side in it, which I find here in the Czech Republic. But don’t you think that it’s not about money at all. I’ve got a special contract with the Czech publisher that they’ve got rights to my books for 1 Czech crown. Now I want a new contract. I want 3 crowns (he laughs).

You visited the Czech Republic for the first time in 1989. How has it changed since?

You were walking in this way: he crouches a bit and makes blinkers from hands around his eyes. You were closed and afraid to say something, as if there was still a worry “Russians can come back at any time”. Since then you’ve opened to the world. When I asked during the tour how many people spoke English, almost everyone raised his hand. You’ve become citizens of the world. But you are still able to keep your culture and you remember history. You have rich history, which we are unfortunately lacking.

What is happening right now in the USA will without doubt go down in history. What do you think about presidential elections?

It’s like start of fascism. Trump has lots in common with Mussolini. People think that they need a dictator who would take charge and solve everything but that’s not how it works. Americans do not know how fragile democracy is in the way you do.

Debates about the elections turn mainly around Donald Trump and what a failure it would be if he won, but would Hillary Clinton be any bingo?

The best president would be Michelle Obama, a black woman (he laughs). There was a lot of slander about Hillary. Republicans made an evil woman out of here. But I believe she would be a good president. If Trump wins, I’ll move to the Czech Republic.

You know, we tend to think that elsewhere it’s always better than at home but believe me that here we have our issues too…

You’re right. It’s complicated everywhere and it always will. But despite all the tragedies happening in the world today, I don’t think it is worse than before. I’m not a pessimist or optimist but as a realist I think that there’s as much bad as good. We only hear about the bad more often. We read in the paper that ten people were shot somewhere, not that no one killed anybody today. And I truly hope that there are days like these too.

You learned all you need to know in kindergarten but what have taught you 80 years of life?

To be generous. I’ve never regretted when I gave something but I did when I didn’t. It’s not about money but about little things. With a band The Rock Bottom Remainders we raised money for charities but we also hoped that our music would make someone happy. I play the guitar and mandocello and hopefully I don’t do any harm to anybody by my playing. That’s what I actually try to do in my life. To live in a way so that I didn’t make any harm. There are days when I say to myself: ,,Well, you could have done better today, Robert.” But when I go to the bathroom in the evening and I can look into the mirror and do: he raises thumb up and winks, it was a good day.

Can fame change you when you become famous after 50 years of age?

I’ve never strived to be rich or famous, not even to become a writer. I’ve been writing for my whole life. It happened only by coincidence that my writing jumped from a drawer into the world after I was 50. At that age you already know your values and what is important and that’s why I do not think that fame would change me a lot. I’ve got the same friends, the same car for fifteen years simply because I like it. I should put a note on the window: steal it please so that I can finally buy a new one!

How did your family accept it?

It was difficult for my children. They didn’t understand why someone would be interested in what I think. I am their dad, they know how angry or even unfair I can be sometimes so maybe they think that it’s not fair and I understand it. But I think we’ve already managed that and we’ve a nice relationship now. I’ve got my role of Captain Kindergarten but I’m also a normal granddad and my grandchildren do not even consider me as a famous writer. For one granddaughter I’m a bank robber.

Well, taking into consideration what all you’ve done throughout your life, it wouldn’t be a big surprise…

She was about 7 years old and asked me what I do for living. I replied that I’m a bank robber and she run to her mum and cried: ,,Mommyyyy, grandad says that he robs banks!!” And for her I’ve been a bank robber since, no matter she is 18 years old now.

When I make a box for the interview about yourself, it will be a tough job. Writer, philosopher, painter, pastor, cowboy…Shall I write also a bank robber?

You can write that I’m a person who is not able to keep his job. When adults ask kids what they would like to do when they grow up, they expect one single answer: a lawyer, for example. They wouldn’t be very pleased if the kids said ,,I want to try many different things.” And many people do the whole life ,,what is expected that they are” and they can’t wait to retire to be able to do what they truly want. I’ve never wanted to be in this situation. I’m too curious and life offers too much to do only one thing.

What job brings you the best memories?

When I was 17 years old I wanted to be a cowboy. And I truly was. Here is the proof: he shows a bent finger. I’ve got many happy memories. And how many beautiful girlfriends I used to have at that time! You can be a cowboy only when you are 17 but not at 80 and that’s why I later had to try something different again.

In your books you write about “closed doors”. What doors would you still like to open in your life?

I want to learn to make shoes. Shoes for men in shops are incredibly boring, only black and brown. And I would also like to learn to make paper, so that one day I can make a book which would be my masterpiece in every single detail.

Is behind that closed door maybe also a new woman?

Now I’m single again. Alone, not lonely though. But I will keep the door open. You never know what life has in store for you and when you are 40, you still have lots of time.

Before you get busy again, what will you do when you are back home after this crazy Czech tour?

I will sleep. I can’t wait!

Don’t worry, Robert does not speak this horrible English, it is translated from Czech from an interview published on August 6, 2016 in a newspaper Lidove noviny 

About my meet up with Robert you can read here


Nice to meet you, Robert Fulghum

Robert Fulghum is American, partly lives in Crete but is slowly becoming a Czech. After his massive summer tour through almost 40 Czech cities he knows the Czech Republic better than many natives, including myself. Once I learnt my favourite author would be here, the mission was obvious: to interview him. And I have: Interview with Robert Fulghum

Meeting Robert Part  I

My first encounter with Robert Fulghum happened when I was probably 4 years-old. You might ask how this is possible when I wasn’t able to read at that time. I  wasn’t but I was fascinated by his books even back then. I used to like not reading books but “playing” with them, for their colourful covers and different pictures. Fulghum’s belonged to my favourite ones in my parents’ library because they were small, thin with colourful shaky letters on the cover. They looked fun.


When I was old enough, I learnt that they are also fun to read. I think that Robert Fulghum has become my favourite writer because I felt a certain connection with him. I pay attention to little details in everyday life (I like to take pictures), I am interested in people and their stories (I am a journalist, after all) and Robert seems to fancy the same. I am particularly into love stories because I consider love as one of the craziest and most beautiful things ever and even the most unbelievable stories are based on reality after all, and when I meet a couple, I am always eager to hear how they met. Robert collected such stories from his readers and the public in his book True Love. I am a passionate tango dancer and so is Robert, as shows his book Hold Me Tight, Love Me Slow. He’s the most famous for an essay collection All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten but he’s gained my heart with a less known three-volume novel Third Wish, which belongs to Top 10 on my reading list. It is considered a kind of autobiography of his and it simply tells me: I must have something in common with this guy.


Meeting Robert Part II

I’m not the only one, though. Despite being an American and published in more than 100 countries in the world, he is the most read in the Czech Republic. Czech people love him. And he loves them. A couple of hours before he went to the airport to finally have some rest from us after six intense weeks of travelling throughout the country, we had met. It was a last-minute interview and I was rushing there by the first train from Colours of Ostrava music festival, meaning that I slept three hours and I only quickly changed from smelly dirty clothes and muddy trainers but had no time for more improvement. As the festival is called “Colours”, I painted every nail in a different and shiny colour. It looked not only crazy, but also pretty ugly and flaked away after three days of the festival. Believe me, not a thing you want to show off.

The first thing Robert said when he saw me: ,,Cool nails!” Of course, typical Robert, paying attention to little crazy details! Thanks God he was at the festival too, I was understood. We started sharing our experiences, how happy both of us were that there had been no drunk people and plastic beer cups lying around. He was jealous that he hadn’t heard all the great bands as I had because he’d had no time for it. He promised he would come back both to the festival and to the Czech Republic again next year, to finally get off the stage and just simply live here in peace.

Robert, a story-teller

In this way we could have carried on talking forever, it just felt so natural and then I realized: what about the interview?! That’s the thing with Robert, and it also explains why he doesn’t like to talk about himself as about a writer (no matter he has sold over 17 millions copies of his books). To be a writer is isolating, you’re on your own and you have to tell everything with words on paper. I’m not surprised Robert might struggle with it – when he tells a story in a book, he cannot touch a reader’s shoulder, use gestures instead of words, or interlay one story with another because it had just come into his mind –  as he did when he talked to me.


Robert Fulghum has had countless professions throughout his life, from a cowboy and digger to a pastor or teacher, and he doesn’t like any pigeon-holing about what he “actually is”. He calls himself simply Robert Fulghum. I will give him one label , though. For me he is a story-teller.

This is the story he told me:Interview with Robert Fulghum

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Aymaras: people of the lake

An insight into the lives of Aymaras, indigenous people of the Andes and lake Titicaca in Bolivia and Peru; about their women, fashion style and admirable self-sufficiency.

After a 14km hike throughout the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun), where Incas were born, we arrive to an Aymara community above Titicaca Lake at a height of 4000m. Eight hungry English, three Australians and one Czech invade one of tiny local restaurants and occupy its entire space. La dueña de la casa (the owner), an older Aymara woman, has panic as well as excitement in her dark eyes; excitement about the coming profit, panic how to feed such a hungry bunch of “gringos” (foreigners). Panic – excitement 1:1

The menu is long but the woman avidly confirms that everything is available (I guess she says so out of fear that we would run away if something was missing.) She advertises famous  Titicaca “trucha” (a trout), a local specialty made in 100 possible ways (you cannot make a difference in between them on the pictures, though). But as I say, we are hungry and we go for a couple of pizzas, extra large. (Panic – excitement 3:1). And the buzz begins….


The restaurant transforms into a bee-hive. Women from all neighbouring restaurants are rushing to ours and now I understand why all of them offer the same menu. The rule is that cooking takes place where customers are. If ingredients are missing at the place of action, they will come from a pantry next door, and at the end pizzas come to our plates not only from the kitchen of our restaurant but from all possible directions, resulting in a great success. We all eat at the same time, we are full, add to that a bottle of Bolivian red which painted rouge on our faces already burnt from hot altitude sun. The lady gives us a black or gold wide smile, happiness on both sides. (Panic – excitement 3:5) Mission “dinner” completed.


When meeting Aymara women on your trek, usually accompanied by a cute infant or even cuter donkey or llama, you greet them “buenos días, mamita”. I would easily have lots of adoptive mums here in Bolivia. Looking at them invites me for giving them a hug.

They have round smiley faces, deep wrinkles inscribed on their sun-burnt dark skin. They are plump, wihich is even intensified by their large colourful “polleras” (skirts), and have a décolletage of an impressive size, on which little Aymaras must have the sweetest dreams.


The first thing to spot on Aymara women is their outfit, all looking like two peas in a pot. The most remarkable item is their bowler hat, which you usually see on English men, looking quite funny on described-above Aymara women. This fad found its place in their wardrobes in 20s and have stayed there since.

The legend has it that the hats were initially brought from Europe for Europeans working on the rail, but were too small for them and were passed to indigenous people instead. However, they look small on Aymaras either, what they do not seem to mind, resulting that they are rather loosely laid on their heads than properly put, as to be blown off any minute – funny but definitely stylish.

Apart from the hats and polleras there is also a short jacket, an indispensable “aguayo” a blanket to carry kids, crops, shopping or all at once, and two long raven-black braids, usually tied together at the bottom. Single ladies can add a red flower to their hats as a sign that they are in a hunt for husband. I find this particularly useful and I wonder how many potential husbands I missed on a ride in the tube for example. As a western woman I probably have to transmit different signals, maybe Bluetooth to connect out iPhones first before we connect ourselves, exchange Facebook details, or give a “swipe right” on Tinder first and meet in the real world later.


Many countries, many customs

Passing by Aymara humble dwellings on a small island in the middle of the nature makes me think, what a range of different lifestyles there is on the planet. Especially when looking at children.
They are not even 5 years of age and they are already professional negotiators; “I’ll give you discount if you buy two”, counting coins quicker than croupiers in casinos, and a little Aymara lady in pink dress purses her lips and hugs a llama, because she knows how cute she is, and is ready to hold out a hand for cash in exchange for a photo.


Parents are very well aware that their cute offsprings can win western hearts more easily and that there is a lesser chance to haggle and bring the price down, and therefore they send kids to sell stuff instead (although in my case you can sell me anything for three times more and I’ll happily buy it. Poor co-travelers of mine who have sometimes searched my assistance because of knowledge of Spanish, but in the end I think I did them more harm than good).

There was something sad in it, though, lacking innocence and purity of childhood. On the other hand, seeing them play hide and seek in the fields and ride a donkey seemed idyllic, compared to western kids today constantly glued to smartphones, cyber bullied or stalked by a pedophile online who passes off as their peer.


I understand every “boliviano” (Bolivian currency) comes handy in this remote area and I do not blame them for ripping tourists off. On the other hand, do they actually need much? I marvel how wonderfully self-sufficient they are. Dishes they eat from made from clay, houses and furniture built with help of the whole community, clothes woven and food grown on the fields. They must laugh at us when we spend fortune on bio food at farmers markets or on a little package of quinoa, their daily dish they eat in kilos, which is now in fashion in Europe on the list of so-called “superfood”.

It’s impossible to say what lifestyle is better or the right one. It is simply different and thanks god for this diversity in the world. And for a chance to travel, witness it and take the best out of it.

Brazil: Sexy nation

In every ranking Brazilians are featured among the top 10 most beautiful people in the world. Fairly. During my stay in Brazil I discovered why. Thanks to their passion, confidence and way of life.

A “paulista” family (from São Paulo), mum, dad and kids, is seated in front of telly, with a soap opera on. A sexy young Brazilian chic on the screen is fed up with her life in the countryside where time stopped, and barely-clad because of the heat with slow cat moves washes sweat and boredom off her body, moaning the futility of life.
One day a stranger appears at the farm, with a caramel-tone skin, piercing eyes and raven-black wavy hair, and the gal’s life turns upside down. She gives him the kind of look with only one possible meaning and without surprise it ends it that way, in a passionate sex scene.

That’s how my stay in Brazil kicked off, a couple of minutes after I met my Brazilian family for the first time. And while I wished to be invisible, the dad did not even look away from his laptop and the girls carried on chatting as if an ad for washing powder was on the screen in front of them. You would not show this before 10pm back home, not mentioning at prime time, but in Brazil I was only witnessing an ordinary evening on a weekday.

Sex versus penance

The spark of sexual energy has followed me all stay long. Necessary to mention that I was in a country with the highest Catholic population in the world. I encountered some funny contradictions:
Sex is openly displayed, but pre-marital intercourse is a big issue. On the street a woman furiously tore off an ad for Tarot reading because a true Catholic shouldn’t descend to such profanity, but she was not wearing much on herself, with a big neckline offering a view into the depth of her “soul”. And on the beach you are banned from sunbathing topless but the bikini style is as if it was allowed, as it reveals more than it covers. Thong leads the way. My friend’s bikini, with a half butt uncovered, was sold in a category of “extra large”, and my shorts-like panties were sticking out like a sore thumb. (Now I understand what my dad must have felt like when he, shortly after the fall of the Communist regime, showed up on a beach in California among surfers in swim-wear long to knees with his Y-fronts popular back then.)


Sexy mix

Every year there are lists released with the most beautiful people in the world, and I guess there hasn’t been a case when Brazilians were missing among the Top 10. I cannot but agree. A subway ride is a pleasure, looking at all the beautiful people getting on and off.

The diversity is particularly impressive. The range of skin tones, hair styles and body shapes. In the 16th century in the period of sugar cane empire slaves from Africa were brought to the country to work on plantations. During the World War I there was a boom of Japanese immigrants, with Brazil being the country with the largest Japanese population outside Japan. When all these start to mingle, as love does not know borders, the results are pretty interesting. Brazilian-Japanese mix is my favourite.

Goddesses of Brazil

An old man, “Carioca”, as the Rio locals are called, resting under the shade of trees along Copacabana beach, started a conversation with me. He was impressed I am an European, not so much with my European appearance, though. With pride he praised the city he was born in, and the sensuality and beauty of Brazilian women. My blond hair and blue eyes didn’t win him over. I do not blame him.

I couldn’t have stopped staring at them either. With their grand boobs and even grander butt, looking like Venuses, they are true embodiment of fertility and femininity. They can have 10kg more than I do, which is nothing difficult here, with all these pasteis, empadas and pleasure in fast food, but still look awesome. They follow the “carpe diem” motto, when they sink their teeth into a hamburger, but with no worries about the calories because it all goes to the right parts of the body to their benefit.
And even if it is a bit over the top, a piece of flab is no biggie and they don’t hesitate to show it off in their sexy outfits. So you see them walking on Copacabana beach with a head up, chest forward, swaying hips and a message in their eyes: “look how beautiful I am”.


Men have their bonus points too. Tanned, dark-eyed, mostly tattooed. Some are well-built, when they spend good enough time rehearsing for World Cup on the beach. However, they have big appetite too and regrettably, compared to women, calories don’t go to preferred body parts in their case.

Go Brazilian
(nothing about shaving!)

Written by a heterosexual woman, you might expect more drools over Brazilian men. Sorry guys, ladies won. They earned all my attention and taught me a lesson too.

Once I am back from my travels, I’ll put some effort into reducing the impact of Brazilian delicatessen on my figure. I am an European so unfortunately the additional meat never goes to the right parts and I have to adapt to local culture where a piece of flab is not that happily celebrated.
However, I want to take a bit of the Brazilian confidence as a souvenir back home, accept and love myself the way I am (quite a challenge, right? It’s not always easy to be friends with a mirror).

So girls, when you walk on the street, walk like a Brazilian. Since the way you see yourself, you will be seen by others in return.
Show the world your inner goddess each of us has inside!

What to do before 30 (to tick off)

I’ve looked up one of the lists with points of what to do before 30 and tried to apply it to my own life. In the first post I included those which I can tick off. Here comes the harder part…those that still must be worked on (or need not?, who is here to say this?)


Haha, right now I’ve no idea what will happen in my life in 1 month, not mentioning 5 years!

This is one of the most common interview questions. And although it usually concerns work and climbing on a career ladder, it’s not off the point to give some thoughts also to personal life.

I know a couple of people who have got a dream job or found “the one” and got married pretty early in life. One of the reasons was that they made clear what they wanted and directed their actions to achieve it. So if you have a 5 year ahead plan, with some effort and also luck, you might truly be there.

I remember the moment when I was sitting at the airport five years ago, holding a passport in my hand, and by coincidence I noticed its expiration date in 2016. It made me think what stage in my life I would be at in that “far far future” (oh yeah, time passes more slowly when you are younger). Believe me that I would never guess I would be here and what all would have happened until now.

Today, taking off to Latin America with a new passport expiring in 2026, I’m painting a picture of what Marie 2026 might be like and hopefully she will be like that (no matter what paths, roundabouts or blind lanes will lead to it).


To be able to make this step one must raise a question first what that dream job actually is. I’ve always been jealous of people who knew when they were 18 or sometimes even kids what they wanted to do. Every joband experience they gained on their career journey brought them closer to their dream job and they truly might have got it by 30. (Well, I wanted to be a dust-woman when I was a kid so thanks god I wasn’t pursuing this dream too hard).

Sometimes I call myself an eternal experience gatherer, jumping from one thing to another. However, all these experiences I’ve got lead me to my dream job too. What I thought would be so much fun to do when at the university, I discovered not to be fun at all when I tried it in practice. And what I thought would be too boring, revealed much more creativity than I expected.

So yes, we should apply for a dream job to maybe realise that it’s not a dream job at all. And if it is, to be lucky that we’ve found something what fulfills us. No matter what people say, work is one of the most important pillars in our lives. If this pillar is missing, our lives and happiness are shaking (OK, lets not generalize, mine are shaking). At work we spend a third of our day and that’s why I believe we should devote our time and energy to something what is truly worth doing.


To get married by 30 is not on the list. But there are things to do in 20s probably to have a ring on finger in 30s, such as having a relationship that lasts longer than mere couple of months and  sharing home with a partner.

I guess that it’s useful to have some fun and meet different people, as every person and every relationship teaches us something. But jumping from one fling to another never teaches us to commit to someone and take responsibility. After the butterflies and crazy infatuation of a new relationship is gone, time comes for some real stuff and hard work. But if you get bored instead and are too lazy to try, you can never learn what love actually is.

I imagine coliving is probably the best test ever to see if a relationship can work. The person is in your presence constantly, on your good as well as bad days, there are times when he/she pisses you off without even doing anything wrong, there is everyday routine and weird habits (loo seat up or dirty socks everywhere might be just a piece of cake and there are obviously not only male habits). If this can be overcome and the spark is still there, that’s a green light for another step ahead.


No matter if a woman or man, it’s quite embarrassing to keep buying ready-meal boxes, which used to take up space in freezers on university campuses while fridges were sadly empty; or to present spaghetti with tomato sauce as a chef’s masterpiece when you are in your 30s.

I dare say I’m not a case in point of the mentioned above. However, as I better devote time to different activities than to cooking for myself, my abilities in the kitchen slightly lag behind. My current resolution is to take my “lonely cooking” as an advantage and a chance to actually learn to cook because it will be only me, who that burnt, oversalted or unaesthetically looking food will have to consume. And once I serve it to others, it will be perfect. I wish!


One of the points on the before-30-to-do-list was also to take up a class of an activity, which we have never done before in our lives, and surprisingly also which we might think we are not the best at.

Today, with hectic lifestyles and lack of time, when we hardly do activities we love, it might seem weird to devote time to something what we might not even enjoy doing that much. That’s the point, though. We do not know if we are good at it or how much we like it until we try. We might discover something completely new and surprising about ourselves.

When I’ve written an article about the university of the third age, its students for example started to learn French or work with Photoshop only when they retired. A man, working the whole life as a car mechanic, fell completely for astronomy, a woman, an accountant, for fashion design.

Well, it’s never too late to start something new and old years, when you finally have time, might actually be a perfect period to do it. No need to hurry before 30 then. However, the difference is that when you fall for something in your 20s, you have much more time to enjoy it than when you discover it in 70s. Now I’m only wondering where my secret X factor could be hidden

The first five points of the list to read here.

The post Life starts (not) in 30s?