Polish filmmaker Mieczyslaw “Tony” Halik is best remembered for his travel show Pieprz i Wanilia (translation Pepper and Vanilla), which aired on Polish television in the 1980s and ’90s.
In Poland under the communist regime, when obtaining a passport was no easy feat, the series was especially important, as it offered a much needed window on the world to many Poles who would otherwise have few occasions to see what life was like beyond the Iron Curtain.
Footage for the show was collected over the many years that Tony spent exploring remotes part of the world.
One of these trips, for instance, began in 1957. He and his first wife Pierrette drove a Jeep from the southern tip of South America to the northern tip of North America, and then back again. The journey took four-and-a-half years and covered over 180,000 kilometers. They visited 21 countries, crossed 140 rivers and swamps, built 14 bridges, and went through 8 sets of tires.
Pierrette became pregnant during the journey. She gave birth to a baby boy in January of 1959 in Bristol, Connecticut.
The couple decided to name their son Ozana, “after the Indian who saved Halik’s life” in Mato Grosso, Brazil. (According to one account, he was saved amidst a skirmish between two feuding tribes.)
Baby Ozana spent his first years in the wilderness with his parents as they continued their journey, which lasted until 1961.
P.S. Mieczyslaw is pronounced myeh-chih-swaf.
- “Baby Named For Wild Indian Chieftain.” Hartford Courant 18 Jan. 1959: 1B.
- Kepa, Marek. “180,000 Kilometres of Adventure: One Polish Cameraman’s Hunt for the Perfect Shot.” Culture.pl 3 Apr. 2017.
- “Nie bylo miejsc, do których by sie nie wcisnal. Tony Halik – ruchliwy jak diabel!” National Geographic Polska 17 May 2018.
- Tony Halik – Wikipedia