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introduction                     personae                     thanks

I was born in Warsaw. After the fall of the Warsaw Uprising I found shelter in Krakow and the Krakow Universsity of Technology granted me the diploma of egineer architect. The compulsory job assignement at the Military Design Office provided me with a unique chance to design the standard WC cubicles for the Border Protection Corps and the Miastoprojekt Office let me show my skills in converting the post-Soviet barracks for the Nowa Huta living quarters. My prospects were really dazzling. I survived only because every Sunday I would go rock climbing, first in the vicinity of Krakow, than in the Tatra mountains where I was bitten by the caving bug. I was admitted to the Klub Wysokogórski (High Mountains Climbing Club) and became a co-founder of the Klub Grotołazów (Caving Club) celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2010.

I was torn away from the drawing board by a summon from the Polish Academy of Sciences; as an experienced “caveman” I was commissioned to organize the technical basis for the Polish expedition to Spittsbergen and to found a research station there. The building as such was designed by another Alpinist – an architect from Krakow, Jerzy Piotrowski. Under the watchful eye of the great polar explorer Stanisław Siedlecki, we managed to find a proper location on a wild coast and build the station which is in use until today.

I did not go back to an architect’s office. Working there in the 1950s was so far removed from everything we were taught during the studies by professor architect Stanisław Murczyński that I preferred to take part in setting up of the tourist monthly “Ziemia” (“The Earth”) where we were the first in Poland to publish the great photographic reportages of young architects Wojtek Plewinski and Zbyszek Łagocki.

At that time I got an invitation from the Cubanese Academy of Sciences and I set off as a leader of the Polish expedition to virgin caves spread all around the island. It must have really become my second nature because later i would set out either to the "undergound" Tschekoslovakia, or to Bulgaria and Hungary. Thus I decided that I would not be an architect any more and decided to start anew, writing novels for the youth. My literary debut was Alarm pod Andami (An Alarm under the Andes), a story about an earthquake and a tsunami in Chile (first published by Wydawnictwo Poznanskie, 1974). However, The Polish Academy of Sciences has not left me in peace and I was entrusted with the task of organizing and leading a series of paleonthological expeditions to the Gobi desert in Mongolia. For six consecutive years I drank kumys and amidst the endless gorges I looked for skeletons of both of big dinosaurus and smallest primary mammals, the latter as tiny as mice.

In my “spare” time I still led the caving expeditions. We explored the then-deepest cave in the world, Gouffre Berger in France (-1242 m) and the deepest cave in America, San Agostin, in Mexico. We trudged 120 km through the spiky and muddy jungle to the holy lake of the Mayas, Miramar. On the way we discovered several dozen unknown caves. Another expedition to the Chile Andes took me to the volcanic peaks and relaxing baths in hot springs.

Upon return to our home country, I used to sit down at my desk and write. Every year brought a new reportage or a book based on my travelling experiences. There have been over 30 publications until now. The latest two are the autobiographical novel Podróż (Voyage, KOS, 2005) and the esotheric Wodospad (Waterfall, SOL, 2010).

In turn, the Polish-American project “Glacier Pollution Study” took me to the highest glacier peaks in the Himalayas, to the legendary Moon Mountains at the Equator in Africa, Mount McKinley in Alaska and back to the Spittsbergen. The analyses of layers if ice, several hundred years old, proved that the factory chimneys have nothing to do with the global warming and the chemicals used to make the leadless petrol are more poisonous to the enviroment than the lead itself.

At last – or so I thought – the expedition of life! A mysterious, unexplored plateau in the heart of the Amazonia. A gigantic, flat table mountain, elevated over the jungle , with kilometer-high cliffs formed of pink quartzite. A virginal territory, untouched by man, like a foreign planet. I managed to persuade the Wenezuela’s Air Force to transport us by an air bridge, by planes and a helicopter. There we discovered huge, crystal caves, that are most ancient on Earth, one billion years old. And so it went on and on; the deepest caves of Mexico, film-shooting sailing expedition to the Aland Islands on the Baltic Sea, to Finnish Lapland, and then a number of voyages to the pre- Columbian ruins of Gwatemala, Peru, Belize and Mexico.

There I met the People of Knowlege who awakened my interest in the world of shaman travel. And this has proved to be veritably the most fascinating of my discoveries. Ever since that time I have explored the reality hidden under our own. Discovering this reality and writing about it has been the most exciting of all my ventures, one that surpassed all the others. And what has turned out? Strangely enough, this experience of the “underworld” brought me back to architecture! For some reason, that dimension abounds in archetypical buildings and structures as well as cities of gold, of inconceivable splendour and fantasy. I suspect that the Architecture that I have betrayed wants to show me, what I have lost!

Maciej Kuczyński
Warsaw, May 2010

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