Poland glossary








geodesist (surveyor)




July 1999



Sylwester Dembny is a very active man, which is evident both in the way he behaves and the way he speaks. Sometimes I was taken aback by the speed of his speech, as well as by the ease with which he could jump from one subject to another.

Section 1
Tell me, please, a few words about yourself.
I was brought up in Wroclaw. Now thereís Wroclaw everywhere in my life. I went to the Secondary School of Geodesy, although Iíd been dreaming about the School of Forestry, but there wasnít one in Wroclaw, there was one in Milicz, but somehow... I was emotionally attached to my parents and I didnít see myself... Maybe it was a bit too far away? I graduated from the School of Geodesy, then I went to the Academy of Agriculture, its branch in Wroclaw, Department of Geodesic Equipment and Water Areas - Iíve got a diploma. After the school... There was also the army training , so I am now a reserve officer. Then I got a job with the District Geodesy and Cartography Enterprise in Wroclaw - normally, as a geodesist, later I was transferred to the development department, and I took up photogrammetry, cause that was my speciality at the Academy. Within the company, I developed a photogrammetry workshop - land photogrammetry, that is inventory of architectural monuments. I did post diploma courses, and we started this workshop. We did a lot of inventories within Wroclaw: Wyspa Piaskowa (island within Wroclaw), St. Maryís Church, letís say... all the inventory of St. Elisabeth Church - all those sculptures, all that later burned in the fire, we counted all that, myself among others, wasnít I? The last project I prepared was Kamieniec Zabkowicki, but I did only the geodesic preparatory work and I left all the files there and I quit the job. I came across this subject incidentally, at a party at my friendís.
I didnít belong to the [communist] party so I could make a career, I didnít go up that fast. I knew what was going on. I quit the job in... Ď83 I think... yes, Ď83. There were no signs of change, that all the ďred onesĒ (communists) would be overthrown and again everything would be the matter of your brainís and handsí work. I couldnít foresee such changes, I simply knew nothing about what was coming. And I couldnít go on like that. I mean, the job was wonderful, there were lots of PKZís (Monument Conservation Bureaux), we worked for them a lot, and the whole area of Lower Silesia I know by heart, Iíve been everywhere around, all those old places, monuments... We also did deformations of radio masts, measurements of coal heaps, rock deposits, things like that... I mean itís like good memories, cause sometimes you have to also start counting whatís coming from it, donít you? But I have always been strongly attached to the nature. I was in... Since Ď70, way back during my studies, I became a member of the Polish Huntersí Association, and I was quite an active member. Apart from that, I was a member of Polish Rifling Association, in WKS Slask sports club - shooting section: seven years a member of the national team, three times the national champion, close to going to the Olympic Games in Munich, I was third... I mean not at the Olympics, but I was the third to go there, but I was still studying, I didnít want to interrupt my studies, my friends went to Munich. I mean, I went on studying, I didnít want any interruptions, you needed a lot of practising... this like that. But the memories... it was wonderful.
Later, I had to give up sport, cause I didnít want to give up hunting, later, when I was in geodesy, I often went to the countryside. And, as I say, once we came across such an incident... maybe itís just fantasy, isnít it? Everyone has some sort of fantasy in life, donít they? Well, the mountains... I like the mountains very much, my wife would have preferred lakes, but I like the mountains, we came here one day, got talking somehow that... there was a possibility of buying that... At work... I wasnít at home most of the time anyway, cause I was usually out in the countryside till Friday, from Monday on, I went away, I was out of the home. And I wanted to be free, cause I never was a free man at work, and that was my dream, to be so close to nature, and really, as I often say, to go out in the morning and breathe your own air, there is such a possibility around here. And so it started somehow. I knew practically nothing. Especially about construction. I knew how to hold a pen and how to use your brain a bit, especially with the use of those small calculators, cause back then we didnít have computers like there are now. And so... we started a whole new life here, we tried to...
But I must say, this building (house) was... I wouldnít venture to build something like that again. I mean, knowing what I know now, I would rather look for something else, or I would start construction from the scratch. Which is practically what I have reached right now. I had to demolish practically everything, or it would collapse on its own, cause it was badly constructed and, say, it was impossible to use it any more. All in all, itís the third time that weíve reconstructed this building. For example, these windows are not original, theyíve been replaced. And there are new ones, third set, waiting in the garage, we are going to install them, the latest ones. Everything is changing all the time, the technology of construction - thereís so much of it - within the last 20 years, practically everything has changed, it totally different now, like day and night.
Well, you, see, when I came here and I was writing an application - cause back then you had to write applications for construction materials - they were funny figures then. The assignment I got from the mayor was: 350 full bricks and 150 cavity bricks, two rolls of tar paper and, I think, about 10 sacks of cement, maybe a bit more. And that was all. With which I could do... I mean it was enough for a bigger dog kennel or, say, something like a shed in the garden. I remember this instance when, shortly after we moved in, there was this heavy rain, and we ran out of pots to put under the dripping roof. Well, I could - with humour - say that everything here was fit for total demolition, and we had to construct the roof practically from scratch. The old walls have remained, but I think in old walls there are some sort of old spirits, and that it will have some sort of a character of its own. Until this day, they have not been made even, the way it should... I mean as we had planned it, my wife and myself, but... it requires some more work, but there is some sort of atmosphere in an old wall, isnít there? In the old... built by somebody else. Letís imagine, someone spent hours here... there was this sweat, having meals, some dreams, efforts, life. The new part, which I will shortly show you, is totally new, it is quick and efficient in renovation and construction. All of it has been carefully thought through before starting.
Section 3
What made you come to this place of all places? Did you have some acquaintances here?
As I told you, it was a total accident. At a friendís party we met a person who used to come here, and he knew someone who sold this to us. It was some sort of his University friend or something, someone with education as well. And we bought it from him. And the fact that we found ourselves here... we simply liked it here; it is in the middle of huge forests, the village ends with a border barrier, no way someone might pass it through, youíve got peace and quiet you couldnít find anywhere else. The silence here is so deep that sometimes, when some of my relatives visit me here, like my late father, he would say that the silence is so deep you can hear it. I love this silence here, and when I get out of the house early in the morning, I can see four to five deer, say... this game... in the autumn you can see, hear... there is a deer mating place in front of my windows. Mouflons (wild sheep) happen to visit the neighbourhood... wild boars, youíve got this nature at your doorstep. And this is something that excites me, I find it fascinating.
At the very beginning, we were trying to go into farming, but it was like childís play, so to say. I bought some equipment, a tractor, there were various problems connected with that, among others, we took a bank loan in that most peculiar year - I think it was Ď85 or Ď86, maybe even Ď87. And the bank... perhaps they didnít like us a bit, I mean, I have to say one thing, and Iíll say it in capital letters: THEY DIDNíT LIKE, maybe itís still true, I donít know, I hope it is changing, THEY DIDNíT LIKE NEWCOMERS AROUND HERE, PEOPLE TRYING TO DO ANYTHING HERE. I remember the words of some people around here... I mean former mayors, cause I have never been easy to get rid of, I always talked until I got what I wanted... they said when I went to try and arrange something, they said: who told you to try and do it? there were many like you before here and they all had to leave. Simply, there was no tolerance for people like me, people who came here and tried to change their lives, those who didnít like living in the town, and who decided to come here and try their luck on this hard soil around here. Iím talking about the attitude of the authorities.
Now, because of that, we got to know a lot of people around here, because we tried to arrange things not only for ourselves, so we made a lot of friends, as if newly acquired relatives, cause we donít have any relatives around here. I made friends among foresters... from the very beginning, I think, I know them all. They often visit us, we visit them, we invite each other to parties, like birthdays and things, other important family occasions, we are friends. And also other people living around here, like, say, doctors, drainage engineers, vets, and all those people who are not... I mean, all the people living here are settlers, they came here after the war, but I mean those who were a bit later arriving, letís say. In the village, they call us tourists; weíve been here for the last 16 years, still we are tourists.
Well, it is a bit funny, but, you know, there are myths created about, for example, where we come from, what our origins are. Itís not they will make sure they donít accept you, but you can feel that. They all came, say from the eastern borderland and they all somehow stick together, although they have more serious problems, but they canít cope with them because they donít know how to. Maybe I stick out around here, maybe Iím odd, but, for example, Iíve got some relatives near Poznan, and they manage quite differently, theyíve got this sense of community there... they co-operate, they help each other. These people around here seem to be somehow helpless... they donít look after their buildings. Sometimes it would be enough to repair the roof a bit or something, work together with your neighbour: I will cut your grain - you will help me, I will press the straw for you - this way simply. But they donít know how to. If you are a bit better off, they will point you out with their fingers, thereís a lot of envy. When I carry hay home, and Iíve got all the equipment, I could help someone; itís not that I donít talk to them, I do, but they do nothing but sit in front of their homes and wait. The way I can see it, the best thing is this smile, when it starts raining when Iím on my way with the hay, and it gets wet, they are happy then. I mean, maybe Iím exaggerating a bit... but, letís say.... there are those clichťs, there is no... no contact... you canít be close with them. I think it is quite normal to help each other, to close to one another, maybe it functions elsewhere but not around here.
Well, and so we somehow... We did everything, at the beginning we even had geese, we had sheep, we had some 170 sheep here, my wife had two cows. There were even seven goats, but each of these... I mean we had sheep for quite a long time, cause we finally specialised in them, we changed the varieties, and eventually we... we started with Polish long woollen sheep, then there were various crosses (cross breeds). I brought some German breed, their wool was quite profitable, eventually we had a meat breed, such black-headed ones. We gave it up later, cause my wife had this idea... she bought the first horse. And thatís how it started. From then on, weíve had horses and... just for fun, horseback riding. And it started with that one horse, ending up with nine at present, all of them with a pedigree. There is one Icelandic breed horse, the remaining ones are Silesian horses. Very, very nice horses. I mean, we are not going to keep only sports horses, full-blooded, some anglo- or Arabs, because we are going to run an agro-tourist farm here, including horseback riding. For such purposes you need simple horses, because high quality horses need good riders, they need a lot of riding, and such a Silesian horse - it is also a very nice horse -but it doesnít need so much space, it doesnít have so many requirements. Cause what we do is we tie the horse to a long rope, and there are sometimes a few people riding it for a few hours. [Mrs Dembna enters]
Section 4
Continue, please.
There was such a year - Ď86, there was quite a hard winter, lots of snow, and suddenly it all started melting, and I had farm buildings on the other side and there were my hens plus sheep downstairs. And the snow started melting suddenly. The building became damp, I mean the roof. One of the roof beams broke. It broke and the roof collapsed a bit. Together with my son, we went there and tried to repair it, we hit it with a hammer... I thank God Iím still alive. At night... I mean the next night, when we were trying to support it somehow, the building collapsed. It broke altogether, all the remaining beams couldnít stand the weight of the snow, and the building collapsed. My losses were terrible, cause beneath that roof, there were 1.5 thousand hens, egg-laying ones, theyíd been kept for half a year and theyíd just started laying eggs. Most of them, cause it was in the winter, they got cold, fell ill, we had to give away some of them, some of the lambs got killed as well, the remaining ones got scattered around, later we kept them in another place. That was a catastrophe.
The insurance company representative came and he said they would pay us damages for the animals, and if I started constructing a new building, on new foundations, they would re-pay the costs. But we didnít have any funds, we started constructing much later, there was this appraisal... they appraised it at 150,000 zlotys or something... Well figures... the figures changed, you no longer remember how many zeros there were and what it looked like. So, when I finished constructing, I went to the insurance company to tell them Iíd finished, what it looked like and to ask if they would pay back the damages... Well, it turned out that the damages I was entitled to remained the same despite the inflation. For the old building that collapsed, I was entitled to 5- 6000 zlotys. I calculated it in the prices of grain, you know. Well, it turned out that for the damages for the old building I could then buy some four packets of cigarettes [laughs]. We had such fun with that lady, the insurance institution employee, there were such regulations and that was all you could do about it. But we didnít get depressed.
I never liked travelling, I still donít, my wife can support me in what Iím saying, but a few days before I left... because we are living on... and this investment here, itís all from my hard work in the West. I donít like leaving this place, but I was forced to, I was determined to remain here. And so we started constructing again. My wife had then one or two horses, and so we started building... It is easy to say, well, weíll lay the foundations, then the walls, some sort of a roof, and it will be ready. My dear, it took three whole years, all our money, whatever we had... we didnít buy anything new for ourselves... we got some clothes from our relatives. I didnít mind, they were alright, only it was always second-hand stuff. And so we were building. The designs... we had to adapt them according to our best construction knowledge, from books, from reading thing here and there... And so the stable can house 16 horses, with pasture storage room, the roof is raised, there are two garages, there are two... a cellar, and there is such a room at the basement, where we hold the saddles and things, there will also be a toilet, shower, bath, meant for visitors... those who will come to do some horseback riding. Well, and in view of this... I mean it was this investment first of all, and out house is still unfinished, although it is not that bad, the roof is not leaking, there is a bathroom, hot water.
We built everything beneath the road, for the animals, the garages, cause I didnít have a room to keep all my stuff, now at least Iíve got somewhere to keep all my belongings, tools and things. Cause every man has got something like that donít they? [laughs] Such my... needed and unneeded stuff. And so, I know... I had to bring things from Boleslawiec... you couldnít get roof tiles anywhere around, so I brought it from Boleslawiec. There was this first factory that started production, near Boleslawiec - such concrete ones, German licence, there is such a huge concrete factory. And so I brought so many of them that they were enough for this part of the building... cause I ordered such a huge transport of them, and so until this day... these roof tiles, they are to be put on the new part, they were bought back then... so long ago! Once, they were painted... so it was... like in that story.
What else can I say? Well, later, it became more and more clear that there was a potential in agro-tourism, you heard someone had rented a room to someone. We got thinking about it, basically, there was such a possibility, I had to convince my wife, because that agro-tourism that you can find around here is of that kind... you know, family tourism, I call it. Maybe itís got a better name, but never mind, I mean receiving people at yours, you know what I mean. Iíd heard a lot about this Valley, I know the Valley, I would come here long before my studies, that will have been over 30 years now, cause my sister got married not far from here, in Wyszki, she married Gwizd, then they got divorced, but thatís another story, isnít it? Anyway, I came here many a time before, maybe it was then that I got to like this area so much, maybe thatís why we finally settled here, I donít know, I didnít know I would. I have always liked the mountains very much, I think you too are here because... well, I donít know. In the flatlands... you know... too far and too straight [laughs]. Here, you go... up a bit and so... and it is more interesting somehow, isnít it? And, well... I got lost again.
Section 6
You mean all your family were interested in the mountains? Nobody questioned your decision to leave the town and settle down here?
No-one, no-one. No. Well, it was... I should have also... because Iíve forgotten about the most important thing, namely, my parents, because the first reason why we found ourselves here were my parents. More precisely, the fact that my father was a gardener. There were four of us, children. My father wanted all of us to be together, he predicted he would not live forever, so he had this idea... they sold everything, divided the money in four, and gave it to us. Cause if one of us was to inherit the household, the others would have to be paid back, there would be problems, maybe quarrels, grudges... I know what it can be like in life, father decided to keep the family together in a way. And so he did, and he was right. Now it is wonderful, we often meet, visit each other, everyone got a bit of that gardening business, and I decided to spend my share on this. Thatís how it was... thatís how it was here, wasnít it?

Iíd like to ask you, do you have any children, and if so, how do you bring them up?
My son is now 28 years old. [a small boy enters] - thatís my grandson. When we came here, how old was Andrzej? [asks his wife] He went to the seventh grade at school. So he finished his primary school... sixth, seventh grade, he finished it here, then he went to the Secondary School of Forestry in Plonice, and he got a job in the forestry. It was all as if fulfilling my dreams, cause I always wanted to be a forester, but I didnít get to be one. But I believe in reincarnation, so itís not out of the question in the next life. I think my son got infected by various things from me, namely, I took him several times to the West, now he goes there regularly, earns some money there, he tries to make his own living, tries investing, wants to buy a shop in Ladek... Simply a young man, he sees my struggles here, the hard work. Maybe they now appreciate it, they can see it coming to some end, that life is possible like this, that if you get involved... I donít mean that we donít have any contact, there is no help, but they, young people, looking at my struggles with what was going on here... I mean, Iím not talking about the war or something... but I mean, I will not be able to arrange my house as comfortably or luxuriously as I would like to so quickly, I will not buy those beautiful bathroom tiles, beautiful flat, furniture, but I will build some crazy stable, I will build some more if I have money. I would need to buy a good car, go, say, on holiday to Mallorca or to Italy, cause we havenít been anywhere for the last 17 years. Well, sometimes we went somewhere, passing through Switzerland or somewhere, but it wasnít such... let say, it was just an incidental journey.
Young people nowadays are more oriented towards making use of lifeís pleasures. Maybe thatís better, time will show, the attitude that you should live fully, and then you will see. I am already... 50 years old in November, and I thought that maybe, maybe someone will find later... that I was such a step in the family, that maybe someone started off from a higher level, maybe the arrangement will be a bit different, I mean... in the sense, I mean someone will have a different starting point. The world is totally different now, different from the one in which we started off... when youíre 20 years old, life is beautiful, and you are full of hope. I mean, I havenít lost my hope, I am not depressed. We sometimes go horse-riding with my wife, it doesnít happen very often, cause Iím a very busy man, letís say... I have to take care of... feeding animals, the tractor, the constructions, the people... The biggest problem is those labourers who come and go. This construction site has already seen over 25 people. And you have to keep an eye on them, for themÖ you might as well pay them with bottles of vodka, they wouldnít mind. You wouldnít need any money, they spend everything on alcohol anyway. Thatís what it looks like.
Section 7
What are your sources of income nowadays - is it the horses, do you still go to the West or maybe you have some other sources of income?
Well... at the moment, we have taken this loan from BGZ (a bank) in Bystrzyca. The amount is 50,000 zlotys. I mean, I decided to take that loan, cause there is such a possibility to credit agro-tourist investments, and Iím strong enough to continue this and try to finish it. The problem is, I think it will take at least three years. Using this loan, I spend the money only on the most important, strategic things. I paid for the windows 25 - cause I had to change them, all the windows and all the doors Ė 25 thousand zlotys. There will be a central heating system and a boiler, in addition to a chimney, such, so to say, construction stuff. The rest of construction work and many other things, theyíre from my means, my work, isnít it? Yes, I am able to do it, there are such possibilities, I think I will complete this investment by the end of this year. Most materials have already been purchased, theyíre on the site, itís just a matter of people and some help.

What do you think about your decision, now that you live here? If you could, would you have changed it?
Well, I will make this one a short answer - I am happy.

So, if you had another chance, you would choose the same?
I would do the same. I would do the same. Simply, Iím free. Not in the sense that... cause freedom for a Pole means something like... you know, itís such a strong word, meaningful... I mean... I am free for myself, you know. Cause we are all free now, arenít we? I am a free man... I mean sometimes you feel under pressure from economic phenomena, donít you? Letís say, some needs, some sort of economic pressures, but Iím simply... At mine... capital letters again, AT MINE, I AM A FREE MAN. And thatís why... that decision is important here.

What were your impressions when you first came here? What did you feel?
Well, it is like that... we were young, we were then 34, 33 years old then. We felt we could face anything. You know, we were wearing rose-tinted spectacles back then, well, Mr Rysio, whoís present here (Ryszard Tomczyk, interviewerís father) can say what it looked like, cause he will remember. If I could now... If I had been able to see that with my present eyes, maybe I wouldnít have chosen this particular building. Perhaps this village. If I had the same money that I had now, taking inflation into account, Iíd rather buy something, a plot, with the intention to build something. I must say - although I am a geodesist, not a construction engineer, but I have learnt the construction business, and I renovated buildings in Germany - that it is much better to build a totally new building rather then reconstruct an old one. Itís faster, more efficient, and you donít make so many mistakes as you do when renovating old buildings. Look, these walls here are a metre thick in places, so if I want to make a hole in the wall, I have to drill for a whole metre now, part of it is made from rock, so itís not an easy job. It is partially built from bricks, but these bricks were not burnt in ovens, but they were dried in the sun, so they are not... Such a brick is totally damaged if it gets some damp.
Section 8
You said earlier that you value highly your contact with nature...
Well, youíve got a virtual contact with nature here - within armsí reach, cause it is about 30 metres to the forest. My wife, when the mushroom season comes, I think I will have to hire a neighbourís wife, cause mine is virtually out of home all the time. All you get here is cleaning the mushrooms, processing them, jars. But itís not her who eats the mushroom mainly. Itís rather me. I mean... itís rather... theyíre in those dishes that my wife serves, she a very good cook. And we have... because Iím a hunter, and everything is close at hand, Iíve got those friends hunters in Ladek. I often hunt nearby, there are deer close at hand, they often come up close at night. I even have a photographs of them coming up to graze on apples almost on my doorstep. I mean 15 metres away from the house. Yes, they come up here, my wife has this piece of garden, a favourite of hers, and she keeps fighting with them, those animals, they will destroy everything there, jump over the fence and eat everything. Those flowers growing there... sheís got magic hands (green fingers), she will put a broken twig into the ground and they will sprout. Yes, sheís got a wonderful hand for plants. And for animals as well. You can see that by looking at the horses, people coming to see them admire it a lot. Well, it costs as well, just feeding them. My wife takes care of feeding them, waters them.
Well, so we lead this life of ours here. You know, our life. I would only like to complete the work here and get it started as soon as possible. We had this group of scouts here, two tents, stayed here for a week. They usually help with the work on the farm. They are trying to turn into a horse-riding group, they learn about the horses a bit, ride them, learn where the horse has the mane, what a hoof is, how to saddle it, how precisely all things have to be fastened, what it should look like. I must say I did some post diploma studies at the Academy of Agriculture - horse breeding speciality, horse-riding as well, so that I should know exactly what to do with a horse, what it should look like in reality. I need some time to tidy up things around here and to complete the building. And that will be the end of my investment efforts. There will only be little things... improvements, building some sort of a wall, a bench, some fence, say, to make things even better, more pleasant. There will be a possibility of having a bonfire, there are two ponds that have been dug, there will be trout, possibility of angling and preparing the fish. This will be pure pleasure. In addition to the sheer joy of being here. Talking about agro-tourism, we are planning to achieve a high standard of service. This agro-tourism that we are planning... is not going to be a typical family outing thing, but something more resembling hotel services, I mean... I donít know how to explain it more precisely. I mean, there will be four rooms, two of a very high standard, in the new part of the building, and two in the old part, there will be some timber additions inside, itís not going to be just simple rooms, some wooden roof beams, we would like it to be a cosy place. You will be able to order full accommodation, there will be my wife or the daughter-in-law, they will cook, prepare drinks, ice-cream, you will be able to order anything. And then, there will be this attraction in the form of horseback riding, for children or horse lovers.
At the moment, weíve got nine horses, out of which seven can be saddled at any time. I mean, two of them are still too young, they will be saddled soon, so I think... And we are planning not just riding for its own sake, but if there is someone who already knows how to ride, there are a lot of places to be seen, easily accessible on horseback. There will be a possibility of organising a picnic out, a bonfire with sausages, coffee, coke. We could go to those mountain pastures, to Wrzosůwka, for example - beautiful sights, there is such a possibility, you can even spend the night out there, in tents. I think it will be quite attractive for town dwellers, with the horses grazing nearby. Thereís a bonfire, say... these are my thoughts, my plans. Weíll live and see, provided Iím healthy enough to complete all that. There will be a horse-drawn carriage as well, sledges. So, say in the summer, you can have a ride to the border and back, through the forest - with horses it is fun. But first, I have to complete these investments that Iíve started.
Section 9
Do you think that several years ago it was easier to make your living from farming?
No. I mean, maybe a few years is not enough. Over 10 [years], yes. Back then, the prices were so strange... say... Some time ago, you could live on just the wool from sheep. If you had over a hundred sheep, you didnít have to worry about anything... there was such a saying, ďIf youíve got sheep, youíve got what you will.Ē So life was easy. And now that we are approaching the world, coming back to Europe, the prices have dropped, and there is no longer such a possibility to live so easily. At present, the situation of farmers is difficult. Especially that farming, the effort you have to make here, in the mountains, when compared to that in the lowlands, the areas around Wroclaw, for example. I know, at first, I tried to plough the ground around here, sow grain, but even with my tractor, and Iíve got quite a powerful tractor - Ursus 360 (horsepower) - I could only, I mean when ploughing, I could only plough downhill, cause uphill it was impossible. And it was not only ploughing, all other jobs had to be done downhill only. So tilling the soil is extremely difficult around here. And if you take into account fertilisers you would have to use, forget it - the soil will never yield enough to support you. There are such temperature differences between night and day, that you cannot have any vegetables. I mean, if you wanted to have some cucumbers or tomatoes, you cannot use seeds brought here from elsewhere, cause the temperature difference will kill them. Only those genetically produced here, and if you use their seeds, but they are no good. They simply grow very small, hardly yield any fruit. My wife, sheís wonderful with plants, but even she cannot make them grow. When I see the same plants grown at my friendsí near Wroclaw, and the same ones grown here, ours take twice as long to ripen, theyíre half as big, their leaves are much smaller. Well, here, in Orlowiec, weíve got winter for six months a year. You have to take that into account as well, when it starts snowing at the end of November, it remains until... sometimes there are snowfalls in April as well.
Section 10
When you first came, werenít you scared of those winters?
Oh, no. I was young. Everybody is... say, when youíre young, and youíve got those rose-tinted spectacles, you take a girl as a wife, youíve got dreams... And thank God, thatís how it should go on, shouldnít it? I mean, itís wonderful... You want to take things into your own hands, so that something belongs to you, so that something depends on you. That was my plan and my dream. I think... I think I am glad of what Iíve achieved.

Donít you miss the town life?
No, I will tell you frankly, one thing, when I go to visit my relatives, my parents, my brother, my sister - Wroclaw, Olawa, when I get there, the place where I was born, brought up, all day Iíve got this terrible headache. Itís not that Iím old and Iím no longer well, no - itís just the noise, the chaos, the rat race. At the moment I donít even know what they are running after. Cause back then, at least I knew what the commotion was about - schools, say, theatres, rest, going to work, shopping. Now I no longer understand it, cause theyíre on the run all the time, they live in those narrow streets, they donít leave the town for weeks, theyíve got the TV at home, a bath, a shower, work - a bus or a car and thatís all. But it isnít all. I need space, I need air. Weíve got wonderful air here... I often recall, I had a wonderful father, heís dead now. He would say: here, youíve got water, air... here, he said, you donít have to breather, the air enters your lungs on its own accord.

You lead a life thatís close to nature. Do you think thereís a lot of pollution, or maybe...
No, there isnít... We donít have any pollution around here. The only thing we have to be careful about are the two holiday centres nearby. I mean, there is one, itís for disabled children, a Catholic one, run by priests, and there is also some other centre, private one, so we have to take care that our stream... we have to be careful for those cesspools not to leak and so on. But other than that, it is wonderful. This area around here is, I would say, too natural, which I find wonderful. Besides, people cannot afford to pollute it. Recently, new litter collectors have been introduced in the village, some time ago, when my wife was the mayor here, you had to arrange for some of them to have such litter containers, cause they didnít have any.

Iíd like to ask you what other people do in the village? Do they have farms as well, do they try to develop agrotourism, or do they do other things?
Well, I wouldnít say there is much in terms of proper agrotourism. Letís say, what I call agrotourism and the way I see it, not what the books say, I observe those buildings, cause I know the whole of the Klodzko Valley by heart, Iíve known it for years, as a geodesist, I travelled it all through... and as a hunter, and yes, the first village that I made measurements of after I graduated, it was Stary Waliszůw, there was this water intake we were interested in... but as I say, I know all the villages quite well, and thatís what Iíll say: if it had been back then, some 30 years ago, letís say... those housing facilities that there used to be, those wonderful buildings that have declined so much by now, it would now be a powerful... a powerful, let say... a powerful region for such a... for such agro-tourism. A lot of buildings have declined by now, cause itís as I say, these are Polish villages. It is not the time that has devoured them, but peopleís negligence, helplessness.
Letís have a look at this village here, all the settlers, those people who came here after the war, their buildings are falling apart now, collapsing. They donít have money now, a single window costs about 400 zlotys, and the average wages are 800, 700, 1000 zlotys, arenít they? Who will invest so much then? And such a pensioner, a former farmer, how much do they have? 300, 400 zlotys pension. They will not do anything, they have to survive somehow. Most of the young people who were born here and brought up, they have left.
The only people who come here are those who construct summer houses for themselves. There are such people who built houses and they plan to live here when they retire, and they are quite numerous, arenít they? But in our village, Basia [to wife], there is no-one whoíd take up agrotourism, is there? [says a few words about an acquaintance, Zosia] Iím sure people would be interested, but I think, if I hadnít started and done things that have eventually led me up to agro-tourism, say, 10 years ago, I think I wouldnít be able to manage. Although, I must say, as far as financial problems are concerned, Iíve neverÖ with the exception of the tractor loan and those were quite difficult times back then, I think it would be rather difficult to complete this. You need enormous [sums of] money nowadays if you want to do something that people will be satisfied with, those who will come here to have some rest. Cause youíve got a lot of people complaining about everything, and if you were to invite someone who would... I donít know, maybe there are such agro-tourist realities, that someone comes into your house, say, such a typical village type... But I donít think anyone would call it having a holiday.
I donít know what you [looking at interviewerís father] would think about it, but I donít think this is what it is about. It is not a holiday. It might be, you know, arriving for a couple of days. You know, a case of beer, some angling in the stream, you know, maybe someone would find it satisfying. But a typical holiday, you know, to go somewhere and have a rest, you need to be relaxed. This is what I think anyway. The way I see it, Iíve got friends in Switzerland, a lot of people I know in Germany and I know what it looks like there. You need independent accommodation. You can take part, I mean, you are within the household, you can go into the house, nothing in the sense of hostsí privacy, and go away, no. And if at the end of a bonfire party someone says, now Iíll go to my room and read a book, this is what they should be able to get. They must feel... in that room, not only lots of beds in one room, because you want to stuff as many people in as few rooms as possible to make as much as possible. I think it should be a large room, with a television set, some sort of a table, maybe a radio, and if it rains for three days, they may do whatever they like, read books, knit - now Iím improvising, but there must be some space. It is not supposed to be such a hotel room, where you just sleep the night, or a hostel. You know, people hiking in the mountains, come in, throw the rucksack in the corner, go to sleep in a small room, and they are happy. Itís no fun to be accommodated, say, in a small room, even if thereís a toilet and a shower. You need some space there, it must be the size of half this flat, doesnít it? Without the kitchen, of course, the kitchen will be downstairs, so all those additional things will have to be done separately.
But coming back to the point, I think that starting off from scratch now means spending unbelievable money. Awfully big money. You need some sort of huge income, when I see how much it costs me, I run my books carefully and Iím quite a scrupulous person. Iíve got all those books and I fill them in properly, so that I can manage, itís normal on a farm I think, which functions or sells milk... I will be serving fresh milk every day, by order. Iíve got neighbours who donít have... they ask me, 50 groszy a litre of milk, they will sell it to me cause they donít know what to do with it. They donít know what use to make of it. They drink it... leave it for calves, pigs... They canít sell pigs either, cause they keep them only for acquaintances or for themselves: people normally buy 20 decagrams of ham, they choose the sort they want, some bacon, and thatís all. Thatís all people now think about pigs. Some time ago, you would buy half a pig, put it into a freezer and they knew they... some cabbage, cucumbers and then I knew I didnít have to fear winter, did I? Now itís all changed.
And, say, if people come here from further places, we will offer them more than just sitting and eating and drinking, thatís not healthy, either, is it? We are in a wonderful position here regarding the neighbourhood. Iím glad to see that myself. There is this beautiful gold mine open to the public in Zloty Stok - a rare beauty, one of the best in Europe. Weíve got the Bear Cave, weíve got, say... Sienna is nearby. And tourist routes - for hiking, cross-country skiing. I already have skis at the attic that can be hired, I also plan to have some 5 - 6 mountain bikes that youíll be able to hire. It is all the matter of money, I will have to see how much things cost, so that I can do what I plan, what my dreams are. Well, another thing Iím glad of is how wonderful it is to live far from the main road. Iím close to the road and at the same time far from it. The buildings with horses are down there (below the road), while driving along the road, someone may notice the sign saying, ďHorseback ridingĒ. And thereís this accommodation part (above the road, on the other side). Look, you can have a bonfire here, you can even sunbathe with no clothes on, or, say only topless. There are bushes, those pines. I think people will like it, find it exciting. There are people who will go, say, to Mallorca, and spend a couple of week lying on the beach under that parasol theyíve hired. And so, I think this is wonderful.
Another thing is, when you arrive here from Wroclaw via Zloty Stok - it is 100 kilometres from Wroclaw - when you drive here from Wroclaw, all the time you pass those towns and villages, you know, similar to any town or village in Poland. There is this road sign saying Ladek 14 km, and you go across those magnificent mountains, go downhill and thatís where we live. It is like somewhere in heaven... over the hills and far away. Not to mention children, I might think of some fairy-tale style shed for them, it is as if at the back of nowhere, you canít feel the vicinity of Ladek any more, and when you go there, you get all those associations, Bystrzyca and all that. Here, youíve got forests all around you. It can really be shocking when someone arrives from that direction (from Ladek), if you come by car, there used to be very few of them, now they are getting more and more numerous, you can see foreign plates as well, Dutch, French, quite often.
A lot of people come here seeking some rest, but I think it is a tragedy when you go somewhere and stay in your room all the time, for a week or two. To the mountains, I think it should be people who know what they want, those who come here. Some movements, in the winter Ė cross-country skiing. There is a ski-lift down in the village, you can go to Sienna or somewhere, to get some movement. As I say - this regionís characteristic feature is to give people some reason to get moving. The bike or something, or angling. There is... you can try angling at mine, in the ponds, or you can go to the Biala Sadecka (river?), or elsewhere. It is something wonderful, such an active relaxation, with the close contact with nature you want to see.
In autumn, you can go mushroom picking, there are lots of raspberries, a lot of berries up there, on the slopes. Thereís this tradition in Poland that you go mushroom picking and then... My wife suggested - cause sheís a crazy mushroom lover, I mean she is, just crazy about mushroom picking - she suggested we might build a mushroom drying room as well. So that people have facilities to dry them on the spot. And those mushrooms here... There are such summers, that the weather is good, and thereís some water... so there are so many of them, those mushrooms. And raspberries... a stoneís throw from here, everywhere. And if there is no rain before they ripen, so that it doesnít make the fruit fall, thereís quite a lot of them as well. Enough supply for my whole family. If you open a jar with such forest raspberries, your tongue gets so long, you would reach the bottom of the jar. Yes... that is delicious, isnít it?
Yes, Iím in love with this area also because I hunt. I like this forest and all, so I... Before I came here, I had to travel 100 kilometres to hunt, now itís at my doorstep, hunting grounds. Another thing is, the village is in the middle of huge forests, they stretch all the way up from Bardo, here... through... in the direction of Zelazno, all those forests, then it goes to the Czech side, all the way to Jesiennik, and up to Miedzylesie, doesnít it? All those peaks along the border line, they are covered with old, strong trees, pines, plus a lot of newly planted trees. After all, all around the building we have... well, you can see for yourself, all new trees, they were planted not a long time ago. A lot of them got nibbled by the horses, let alone what the goats did to them. There were seven or eight of them - thatís how the cookie crumbles, isnít it?
Section 13
Can you say then that your dreams have come true?
I think I could say that. Perhaps Iím one of the few who are glad, cause I know people around here who... Well, you know, who doesnít have problems? I am not that lucky not to have problems, I do - everybody does, donít they? But those problems often make people stoop to the ground, and I... I always say I can see that sun above the horizon, I say this stoop makes me itch in the back... I climb another pass and I say, a few more climbs and I will see that valley of milk and honey, and when Iím up there, it turns out thereís another hill before me. But thatís probably the way it should be.

Thank you for the time youíve devoted to me and this interview.
Yes, and I invite anyone who would be interested in coming here next year. You can make a reservation by the phone, order whatever you want - you can, say, haggle.

Thank you.

1949 - birth
1971 - son is born
1973 - graduates from the Academy of Agriculture
1984 - arrives at Orlowiec
1998 - post-diploma studies at the Academy of Agriculture
1999 - present day