Making dreams come true

Petr Ondráček, photo: the archive of Petr Ondráček

Some people dream of travelling around the world, others want to bring the world to their native village. In this week’s edition of Panorama we meet three Czechs who have all made their dreams come true.

Petr Ondráček,  photo: Archive of Petr Ondráček
Sixty-two-year-old Petr Ondráček from the village of Mokré has been working hard on making his dream come true these last seventeen years. He has spent every spare moment building a sailboat which should take him on a trip around the world. A scientist by profession, Petr is an experienced sailor, has sailed the open seas and is active in water sports, doing both canoeing and water slalom on a professional level. Although his boat has an engine, Petr wants to use only the sails on his round-the-world trip and break the record set by Robin Knox Johnston who achieved it in 313 days back in 1969. He has been actively preparing for the journey these past seven years.

Petr Ondráček,  photo: Archive of Petr Ondráček
“Out on the open seas you are not allowed to get any help from hand to hand so to speak, but if someone throws things into the water you can fish them out. You have to sail non-stop and cross all the meridians. “

Petr will be sailing out with boxes of food rations – bread that should stay edible for almost two years and food that he will warm by simply placing it out in the sun. He plans to keep supplied with drinking water by a process known as desalination – desalting sea water. His wife Ludmila says she’s keeping her fingers crossed for him.

“I know how hard he worked to make his dream come true and I do think that he is well prepared –so I hope with all my heart that everything works out as planned.”

Photo: Archive of Petr Ondráček
Despite the seven years of preparation for this journey Petr Ondráček says he realizes there are likely to be many hurdles on the way, but he is determined to fulfill this dream no matter what.

“I do not know the Indian Ocean and I expect that the stretch between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn will not be easy at all. I will be sailing from Falmouth in southern England, past the Cape of Good Hope, Australia, Cape Horn, past the Azores and then back to Falmouth.”

Petr intends to set out on his round-the-world trip in mid-September. His home village of Mokré is already so proud of him that it has awarded him honorary citizenship.

Astrological clock in Kryštofovo Údolí,  photo: Hadonos,  CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported
Martin Chaloupka is also a well-known figure in his village of Kryštofovo Údolí or Cristopher’s Valley in north Bohemia. He however has no plans to leave –instead he is doing everything in his power to bring people there. After a trip to Prague he decided Kryštofovo Údolí could do with an astrological clock like Prague’s Orloj and promptly set about building it. Thanks to him the sleepy picturesque village now boasts its own astrological tower clock – the third in the Czech Republic after Prague and Olomouc. The one in Kryštofovo Údolí is naturally a more modest undertaking, but no less charming for that. The clock is actually installed in what used to be an old disused substation and it took Martin and his helpers two years to transform it. On the hour a wood-carved figure of a night watchman blows his trumpet and a procession of twelve apostles appears in two windows – the entire show taking two and a half minutes. Just as Martin wanted, the clock put Kryštofovo Údolí on the map - seven hundred people, including the chairman of the Senate attended the clock’s official launch three years ago and hundreds of people are now visiting the out-of-the-way village just to see it.

Martin Chaloupka,  photo: Jindřich Honzík
Martin says new ideas never stop coming.

“When I was a kid my dad would shake his head and say Martin you are a crazy boy - you will never do anything worthwhile, I think time has proved him wrong and I would correct that a little – I think I will never do anything considered ’normal’”.

Orloj was just the beginning. Since there was no pub in the village Martin turned his house into the local pub. Then he turned the local dumping ground into a mini-golf course and opened a museum of twenty nativity scenes that he himself collected. He and his wife are now putting into shape the local graveyard where many of the graves belonging to Sudeten German families expelled from the country after the war had been neglected for years. One of the villagers Ivana Machálková is a big fan –but she says not everyone is.

Astrological clock in Kryštofovo Údolí
“He has a lot of critics you know. People who are irritatedprinc by what they see as the commotion he causes. There is something going on around him all the time. He is always planning something new and getting people involved. But I think we should be glad because he is the driving force in this village and brings in the tourists. If he goes there will be nothing left –he is behind every activity.”

Martin Chaloupka says he can’t help himself. He has taken the village to heart and says he is simply making use of its considerable potential.

“This village is very dear to my heart and I figured it needed something to bring it alive, to bring in tourists and money. It needs something to live off. So I started putting into practice all these crazy ideas of mine.”

Most of us have a copy of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince at home – Marie Čadková has a library full of them. She collects the publication in any language she can get her hands on. Today she has 229 copies in 140 languages. She says that in addition to the wisdoms the book has given her in the different phases of her life – and she claims that she constantly discovers new things in it – it has given her many friends from the international collectors’ community.

“I am often in touch with other Little Prince collectors around the world –I have many friends in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and many other countries. I was delighted to get the Bosnian version of the Little Prince from a collector in Seattle in the US. When I was searching for a Romany version a Japanese collector helped me out by giving me the name of a Hungarian collector who had it.“

Like all collectors Marie Čadková is always looking forward to the next coveted item – even if only in her dreams.

“I am still missing the first American edition of the book from 1943 which I know to be available on the market, but it is simply way beyond my means. And I don’t have the very first French edition from 1946 but I do have the 1948 one. But you know, I tell myself that some dreams should stay what they are – just dreams.”