Tony Burica - Seeking Freedom: A Five-Year Odyssey
In the turbulent aftermath of World War II, Marshall Josip Broz Tito began clamping down on the citizens of Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina,
and Montenegro, now combined into the new state of Yugoslavia.
Industries were nationalized and private land holdings seized by the state under a 1950 edict that proclaimed "the factories for the workers" and
"the land for the peasants."
Authoritarian controls were extended by the Yugoslavian Communist Party to keep the diverse ethnic groups of the country under control.
Fresh from two years’ service in the Yugoslavian army, Tony Burica returned to his hometown of Grohote on the island of Šolta.
A year later, convinced there was no future for him in Yugoslavia under the authoritarian communist regime,
he decided to flee the country to find work and opportunity elsewhere in Europe.
Many others had fled the country, facing jail sentences and possibly execution if they were caught.
Without telling his family, (for fear of reprisals against them), he, his brother, and three other Croatian friends
stole a boat one windy December night in 1951 and sailed to Italy.
They crashed the boat in the surf near Rodi Graganico, then made their way to the town of Foggia,
where they were jailed and placed in a refugee camp for six months.
When released, they tried to decide what to do next. Conditions in Italy were not much better than Yugoslavia,
but Tony heard that the British and American occupation forces in Germany needed workers.
In Germany Tony met Ivan Raos, a fellow Croatian.
Thus began a life-long friendship and a 10,000 mile, five-year odyssey before the two adventurers finally reached Los Angeles, California,
and a new life and the freedom they sought.
Their travels in search of jobs and a better life would take them north to Sweden where they initially found work in a peat bog.
After some months they felt somewhat isolated and alone in the close-knit Scandinavian community,
and decided that better opportunities might be found in America.
Their initial plan was to travel south, explore South Africa, cross over to Argentina, and then work their way north to the United States.
They also were motivated by the spirit of adventure and a desire to see as much of the world as possible.
Using some of the money they earned, they bought two bicycles and some camping gear, stole a small boat, and sailed across the Öre Sound to Denmark,
only to be arrested.
As stateless individuals with no passports, they were arrested multiple times as they crossed from one country to another before finally reaching Spain.
They anticipated there would be trouble with the authorities, but they went anyway.
From Spain they eventually reached the Canary Islands, where they attempted to stow away on a boat sailing to South America.
They were discovered and returned to the island of La Palma.
This led to the decision to build their own boat, an 18 foot sailboat that eventually took them across the Atlantic to a landfall on the island of Tobago.
From Tobago they sailed to Venezuela, where they were again arrested and jailed (this was arrest number ten) and the boat was confiscated.
When released, they found work on a plantation in the Venezuelan jungle near the Orinoco River.
Once they’d earned some money, they set out again, crossing northern Venezuela and Colombia, hiking through remote jungles, living with Indians,
but always working their way north.
After so many arrests, they became wary of border crossings and expert at slipping unnoticed across national frontiers.
In this way, on foot and sometimes by bus, they eventually reached Los Angeles, found work, became citizens, married, and began new and productive lives.
About Tony Burica
Tony Burica has always loved boats and the sea.
Having grown up on the Island of Šolta near the shores of the Adriatic Sea, boats and sailing came naturally to Tony.
As a child, Tony worked the family farm along with his parents.
At age 20 he was drafted into the Yugoslavian Army.
When his enlistment was up, he returned to his home village, but could not stand to live under Tito’s communist regime.
After arriving in Los Angeles, Tony and Ivan got together on weekends in 1956 to write a summary of their travels while it was "still fresh in their memories."
They spent months writing and editing a draft manuscript, but in spite of their best intentions, it was never completed.
Tony went to work for Schock Boats in Newport Beach in1959.
He worked there for 20 years until 1979, when he started his own business building and repairing small boats in Newport Beach.
Tony continued his education while living in Newport, first auditing classes to improve his English and then taking courses in drafting and pre-architecture studies at Orange Coast College.
Members of the Newport Beach sailing community have nothing but positive things to say about Tony.
Debby Benedict, former secretary of the Sabot Association, commented that Tony "is a legend in our community.
Everyone goes to him to get their boats fixed."
The Adventurers’ Club of Los Angeles thanks Shane Berry for recommending this speaker.
1) Mt. McKinley -- Alaska, 20,237 ft.
2) Mt Logan -- Canada, 19,551 ft.
3) Orizaba -- Mexico, 18,700 ft.
There are three volcanoes in a row about 150 miles southeast of Mexico City.
1) Izacchuati -- 17,345 ft. -- dormant
2) Popocotepel -- 17,930 ft. -- active
3) Orizaba -- 18,700 ft. -- dormant
Straub previously was one go the four mountain climbers who made the first assent of the vertical cliff (and often over-hung) cliff from where Angel Falls,
the world’s highest waterfalls flows.
This is deep in the jungle in Venezuela.
The waterfalls are three times the height of the Empire State Building.
This project required three different attempts on three different years.
Later one the climbers became intrigued with volcanoes and invited Straub and another of the Angel Falls climbers to join him in to climb Orizaba.
This project also required three different attempts on three different years.
On the first attempt one of the climbers was killed when he fell from the Mountain.
The second was stopped by severe storms.
The third was successful.
Ladies Night -
Bob Silver - The Flight of the Free Flight: The Beginning of a World Trip
Bob’s trip around the world began suitably with a boat: the Freeflight,
a Costa Mesa-built traditional wooden double-ended 34-foot gaff-rigged Tahiti ketch.
A great cruising yacht with a set of sails – main, mizzen, genoa, storm, jib, and maybe even a spinnaker – took two years and cost $4000 plus buckets of sweat.
It left Newport Beach harbor with its owner-skipper and a crew of three on its 23-day maiden voyage to Hawaii,
which was recorded on film by Bob Silver (member #728) who will also narrate.
This film will be complemented by footage of surfing the Makaha annual competition, and some special night-time surfing with Army search lamps and flares.
The Adventurers’ Club of Los Angeles thanks our member, Bob Silver, for volunteering this presentation.
Alex Ramsey and Chris Lockett - Documenting Demining Team in Cambodia and its Effects
Bill Morse is an American businessman.
Facing retirement, he was approached by a friend to donate $100 to help fund Aki Ra,
a former Khmer Rouge child soldier who now works clearing landmines he once set in Cambodia.
Morse got involved.
He was so impressed with Aki Ra’s work that he eventually sold his house and now lives in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
He created an organization to assist Aki Ra in his work – Landmine Relief Fund, whose purpose is to fund CSHD.
Morse is a familiar American face and a relatable entrée into the larger story of landmines, more specifically, the people who work in landmine removal.
AKA “Unexploded Ordnance” or “UXO” in the parlance of the field.
It’s timely because the wars are (theoretically) winding down.
It’s an evergreen because children are still being killed by landmines set during the Vietnam War era and subsequent Khmer Rouge regime.
There are schools, some government, some not, and training technicians in the difficult, dangerous work of landmine removal.
It must be done by hand, one landmine at a time.
And there are tens of millions of them in the world.
There is one company that makes robots to do the job, and Bill would like to include them as well.
What makes one baby boomer facing retirement get involved in a way few would or have to date?
It’s a rare story now.
Someday, with this film and Morse serving as example, it might not be such a rare story.
Likewise, what drives someone to risk their life digging landmines out of the dirt?
Balancing their personal stories against the larger issues will be the way to proceed.
About Christopher Lockett
Christopher is a Los Angeles based cinematographer and documentary director.
He holds an MFA in Cinematography from the American Film Institute, has shot television programs for every major network and most major cable networks.
Christopher is an 11-season veteran of CBS’s long-running hit reality show Big Brother (airing 3 nights a week now through late September)
and that another recent show he shot, Naked and Afraid XL - a show critics call “The Everest of survival shows” - airs Sunday nights on Discovery Channel.
Lockett’s most recent film, The Typewriter (In The 21st Century) screened in 12 countries, The Newseum in Washington, DC and can be streamed online via Hulu,
Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and iTunes.
The Los Angeles Times called the film “A fun, compact love letter of a documentary.” The Washington Post called it “a valuable and persuasive film.”
About Alex Ramsey
Alex is a veteran of Fortune 500 ® Company (Unilever) and has spent over 18 years working in the manufacturing industry,
in all facets of development and production.
Taking his skills with material and collaborating with key stake holders to the next level.
Alex produced a pilot presentation Thor’s Hammer, The Surgeon and is currently in pre-production of a documentary film about landmines in Cambodia.