Ric Polansky’s unorthodox and adventurous life

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WELL TRAVELLED: Here’s Ric in Egypt.

EUROWEEKLY’S long-time columnist Ric Polansky, a man whose arrival in Spain dates back to the late 1960s, has been featured in a major profile by Diario de Almeria.

Here we reproduce elements of that article to give our readers a flavour of the man whose adventurous spirit mean his interests range from bullfighting to jungle exploration deep in the heart of the Amazon.

One man, the paper says, who defies any attempt to pigeon-hole him is Ric Polansky, an American who arrived in Mojácar in the late 1960s, fleeing a conflict he believed to be unjust, the war in Vietnam. 

One of his first loves was his passion for photography allied with his love of bullfighting. These twin passions led him to take thousands of photos of bullfights all over the world.

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RIC POLANSKY: Claims to have found El Dorado.

In fact, almost 70 per cent of the images contained in the book Olé!, a bullfighting book featuring contributions by 35 American authors, came from his very own camera. The book has gone on to win two US literary awards and be shortlisted for several others. 

His wish to extol the virtues of this sport means he has spoken at conferences about the art of bullfighting. Such is his passion that in his own house he has a bar full of memorabilia including bulls’ heads, bullfighter outfits and posters of famous contests. One such poster depicts a bullfight he himself organised in the summer of 1971 in Almeria’s spectacular Vera bullring.

But, as the paper says, what makes him a unique individual is his adventurous spirit: he and his wife often travel during the summer months to Alaska, where they enjoy fishing and the snow and ice of the north American state.

In sharp contrast to the attractions of Alaska, Polansky has travelled on multiple occasions to Latin America, following the trail of the old Spanish conquistadors.

Together with a Peruvian friend he made several trips in search of El Dorado; the legendary city or kingdom that has seduced adventurers over the centuries. The story of the king who covered his body with gold dust and made offerings in a sacred lagoon has had a power of attraction throughout history but all searches were in vain.

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TWIN PASSIONS: Ric has a love of photography and bullfighting.

However, Ric Polansky claims to have found El Dorado. 

“I can say, without exaggerating, that I know exactly where El Dorado is,” he says.

Based on information provided by the Alaskan conquistador Alonso de Mercadillo, he entered the Amazon jungle in the 1980s in search of the golden civilization. 

“It’s a very dangerous place, life is worth very little there,” recalls Polansky.

For their adventures they hired a helicopter to fly over the jungle. He had to learn to deal with the others seeking the mines of El Dorado and at one time obtained permission from the Peruvian government to carry a pistol. “My trick when I met dangerous people, like illegal loggers and smugglers, was to always carry a plastic bottle with a very good rum, at least 20 or 25 years old, and offer them a shot,” he jokes.

The real El Dorado, he says, is not a city “like Cuzco, but a series of mines very rich in gold, from which the metal was extracted for the big cities.”

His adventures have prompted him to start a book on his trips to Peru.

Among his many anecdotes is his relationship with a dangerous tribe whom he had to ask for help to heal his broken leg, an injury he suffered in the jungle.

He also remembers with a smile the bite of a small snake, “just like a worm,” which caused him to haemorrhage blood from the ears and nose. He has seen specimens of one of the largest snakes on earth, the anaconda.

“I saw one kill a small child before my very eyes,” he recalls.

His unorthodox life has seen him put many of his innermost thoughts down on paper for the readers of the Euro Weekly News. It has also led him to start to put them down on paper for a series of books. When he finds a publisher for his larger-than-life tale, we will let you know.

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