The First Expedition

Saint Peter's Church, Zurich
Saint Peter’s Clock Tower, Zurich

I’ve been asked to write something about my first expedition to Peru. It began a few years after the war, when I travelled halfway across Europe to visit my old friend Otto. A decade earlier, we had been separated when I joined the Poles on the eve of invasion. Otto stayed behind and worked for the Germans, at an airfield that had been converted to military production.

Soon after I arrived home, it became clear that I could not remain long in Pilsen. President BeneŇ° had appointed a new cabinet, and there was trouble coming to the district of West Bohemia. I was tired of war and conflict and had little interest in living under communist rule.

Otto explained that he was planning a trip to the Amazon, and insisted that I join his expedition. We would be collecting exotic plants for export, and taking astronomical photographs from the Peruvian high country. It was a crazy idea, but Otto had made some kind of a deal with an American who provided all of the help we needed.

Our first destination was Zurich, where Otto withdrew funds from a numbered account and booked our passage to New York. He also secured accommodations for his wife Sophie, who would remain in Zurich while we were abroad. Pavel joined us there, a friend of Otto’s that I remembered from before the war. After less than a week, we started on the long journey to South America.

To be continued…

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