“Adventure begins where the timetable ends”

Przemysław Krajewski: We are talking about the book “To the river that does not exist”. A travel book that reads like a good novel – a man’s novel. If Hłasko had written about travel, he might have written like that.

Grzegorz Kapla: And all because while the book is a travelogue, it still has the emotional density that characterizes a novel. The point is not to instruct the reader, but to make him experience fear, anxiety, relief, joy, excitement… In a sense, the language of this story is a consequence of the climate, the atmosphere of Latin America, which streets where girls wander in short dresses like on your wedding night, alleys where you really feel this kind of exciting thrill. Maybe not in the Andean countries, where women wear layers of skirts, and men wear ponchos and thick, ugly sweaters, where people may be small, but weathered, tough, used to the wind. But on the Caribbean coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Venezuela, or Brazil, the air really trembles with an erotic tension.

Where does hiking end and adventure begin? When do you become a real traveler?

The adventure begins where the schedule ends, the schedule ends and things happen that you didn’t expect. If you don’t know where you will come, where you will sleep…

Or is it at all…

On the contrary, you always sleep somewhere. I have often asked for accommodation. In such situations, I remember that the statistics are on my side.

It’s hard to think about statistics when a bus full of people floats over a chasm, or when your hands freeze on the rope of the railing, because you’re on a glacier five thousand meters above sea level in the fur itself, because you have warm things gives to any girl. Tell the truth – how are these women? You write like there’s about to be an affair and then the curtain falls and we don’t know if there was something or not?

Indeed, giving someone weaker than you a winter coat isn’t the best idea, let’s admit it was the result of a Polish, uhlan kindergarten, and I misjudged my own ability and I’d be running out of luck. As for women, I would say that people bring masks from their travels, amulets that they do not understand, the skins of wild animals that cannot be brought to Europe. They risk. Love also comes with risks, because you don’t know if and for how long it will hurt. For years I met someone on the trail. In the beginning, in Jerusalem, I had no idea she was Polish, because the traveling community is Anglophone.

This is just a paradox… A few years ago I took my daughter to the Polish mountains. When we left the shelter at night and saw the sky at night, she was afraid because she understood how big the cosmos is. What a crumb we are. You don’t see it in the city.

You can see the sky in the desert! When all the lights go out. We lit them to get rid of the fear of wildlife, but I think we developed the fear of life itself.

Meeting lonely travelers is one thing. And the fascination with a new culture, beauty you didn’t know – the last one. There were such suggestions in your most recent book. When I read your “China without reciprocity”, I also had the impression that there is a bottom line somewhere.

There’s no denying that I’m interested in women, but I don’t really have a romance when I travel. Unlike many newcomers from Europe or America, I never use sexual favors. It is a matter of common sense, but also of honor. I’m really not amused by a European tourist cuddling a fourteen or even fifteen year old in a beach bar. And I’m ashamed that I can’t respond properly. Five centuries ago, Europeans wanted to colonize the world and the effects are still visible today. The economic compulsion that results in selling my own children for money is a disgrace that I cannot think about calmly. Unfortunately I can’t change the world either. Even if you grant someone like that, nothing changes. Human trafficking will continue because many bad people reap the rewards and victims have no right to choose just because they were born in the wrong place on Earth. I don’t pretend not to notice and I don’t enjoy the hangover in Bangkok at all.

How many hours a day do you spend writing?

Hours? I try to write ten thousand characters a day, which of course never works. Writing is like sports. If you are a pro, you have to train every day, set distances, set the bar high. If you take a long break, you have to learn all over again.

You publish at least two books per year. That is a lot?

I have been writing reports and doing interviews for several years now. This is my primary, and sometimes the only source of income. There was a year when I published (under different names) sixty-two articles. It was a lot, but then I had to buy an apartment.

Can you buy an apartment to write to the newspapers? Today it can only be an anecdote.

That’s true, but when our masters started, it was enough to write ten reports a year to live a good life. I started at a time when “Twój Styl” paid four thousand for the text with pictures, and “Polityka” for this part of “For Your Own Eyes” – two thousand six hundred. These two texts gave me financial relief. Social media has changed everything, the internet gives the illusion that you can have any story for free, so journalists are no longer needed, but some, like me, started reading books.

You train regularly, travel, go to festivals and gatherings, write writers and… write two books a year. In addition, you publish “Kapla on the way” on Facebook. It touches me that such quality sentences and insights are simply available. No one advised you to introduce paid entry for the chosen ones?

We meet at the literary picnic in Gdynia. It is eleven degrees outside. People really know other activities than getting wet in the rain, even those who like books. They may stay at home and read on the couch instead of sitting in a tent in the cold and rain. However, some of them came here because they read my blog. They tell me at the meeting, they came because it was important to them. It is an author’s privilege when someone reaches for their letters and finds them important in some way.

“Kapla on the way”. How you write reminds me of such a contemporary way of describing Stachura.

When I was a kid, during the communist era, Stachura’s book was popular on the cover, which imitated jeans. In one of my crime books I just realized this, I’m going back to the moment of his death under the wheels of a train. This is important to my heroine. So it probably moves for me somehow. Of course I’m not saying that every single one of the characters, especially the bad guys, is the author’s alter ego, but hey… in a way I treat my own life as a story. As I write my diary, I force myself to examine my own life. It’s not about very imaginary things, about some, God forbid, coaching or teaching, but about looking for depth in everyday life. To force myself to experience at least some ordinary things that really make sense. I don’t like the word mindfulness, but maybe it’s appropriate here. And then I’m surprised to find that someone likes to read about the color of the river when I ran across the bridge.

Your next book will be…?

A crime story surrounding the Pegasus case. This is an interesting tool, it allows you to see where we don’t even let ourselves in, and then again it makes someone who has access to this machine the master of other people’s life and death.

It’s a good thing you write so fast, because in this case reality can precede literary fiction.

Yes, the Senate Inquiry Committee somehow started to fail, but if the opposition wins the election, it will surely roast the few current ministers on the pegasus grill.

Recently I read that you were “almost everywhere”.


It was Czarek Łazarewicz who came up with this title of the meeting at the Media and Art Festival in Darłowo. He thought it through very well, because the hall was packed, and having such a turnout after Mr. Andrzej Seweryn is really a feat. It is true, I have visited many places, but not as much as Professor Kolodko, he counts on 169 stamps in his passport and he goes to Chad. I also personally know a man who seems to have really been everywhere, Roman Hamerski, a traveler from Świnoujście, who already has or will soon have a complete collection of stamps from all countries and dependent territories recognized by the United Nations.

Remember that electric guitar song “I was in Rio, I was in Bajo, I had a ticket to Hawaii” followed by a line about the futility of exploration…

For me life is a story. I travel because I am looking for content. I believe I somehow owe it to the generation of my parents who couldn’t travel further than to the GDR, because at first they had no passports, then no money and finally they ran out of time. My generation, the happiest in our small tribe in a thousand years, was born in a commune, was given freedom from the “Solidarity” generation and could really choose whether to pursue a career in business, build entrepreneurship, enter politics , or really see the world. Previous generations had no such opportunity. It turns out that the current young generation is no more.

This is another pebble for your garden… There is a poem by Tadeusz Dąbrowski, you may find it iconoclastic. The lyrical subject says that looking at the puffy faces of the climbers and the faces of the homeless, he makes no distinction between them.

As I was climbing, I know that the Himalayan road is, in a way, glued to homelessness. Climbing, as well as traveling, is easier than living “in the valleys”. The decisions you make in real life take a long time to verify. You take out a loan and only after 30 years do you know whether it was a good or a bad decision. You fall in love and after ten years you know if it was good or not. Life on the road, in climbing, is easy – if you make a mistake, you know it almost immediately. If you have luck, ability and self-analysis, you can fix this error right away.

This is often not possible in civilian life.


Grzegorz Kapla’s latest book, “Across the River, Which Has None,” can be read in its entirety in one weekend, despite being the aforementioned four hundred and eighty thousand characters. The action is as fast as the river. It is a travel book that is a great adventure that we can experience without getting out of our armchairs. However, it will be much more for the observant reader. It is also a journey into ourselves, a chance to reflect on our own condition and the world around us. Far from platitudes, banality and ready-made answers. Simply – it’s worth having.

Two books from the publisher Lira, “Nad riwę nie ma”, together with the signature of the author Grzegorz Kapla, will be raffled among the readers of Onet and Damofera. Find us on Damosphere social media.

Leave a Comment