I’ve been to Mexico, Australia, Canada, so getting to know more cultures broadens your horizons and makes you more tolerant and receptive to other cultures and opinions and stuff like that. So I think that everybody should do that. Maybe we’d have more peace in the world.
It wasn’t a difficult life economically, but it was really very much supervised by the totalitarian regime, so if you weren’t politically recognized as approving of the system, all kind of difficulties would arise. I remember when I was graduating from gymnázium, there was some case as two of my classmates were accused of stealing some money from the Pioneer organization but I knew they were not guilty, that somebody from the faculty was putting it on them.
You were getting closer to the border so the woods were there, but they were everywhere. So you could see them and that was a very scary thing. Probably not very much conversation going on in the car, not that I remember. I remember holding a doll and just sitting there, not knowing what was happening.
I didn’t know the countryside, but I had a map and a compass and it was a chance we took. The border guard came five minutes after we crossed; as a matter of fact, when we were crossing, I heard somebody hollering, some dog barking, and what sounded like shots. But we said ‘Oh the heck with it’ and we just kept going.”
With collective farming, farmers did nothing but went to Prague and went to nightclubs. So the soldiers and schoolchildren had to go and do hops [during the harvesting season]. So let’s say I went for two weeks to do the hops brigade. Very hard work; it’s very hard on your fingers, and I just couldn’t manage and it was so stupid.
The voting I went through in Czechoslovakia was absolutely ridiculous. With the age of 18 you had the ‘right’ to vote, and it consisted of you being forced to go and vote. You were handed a paper filled out with the Communist candidates, which you folded and threw in some container. That was the extent of the voting. Absolutely absurd stuff.