We had the good fortune of connecting with Michaela and Jirka and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michaela and Jirka, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Definitely a lot. Given we both studied for many years to get university degrees and succeeded and then gave it all up tells it all. However, there is also importance of risking with a plan in mind. Generally, our goal has always been to finish studies, move abroad, save money and set on the trip around the world. We did it all, although while doing that we had to leave our area of expertise and learn totally new things. There is never too late for that. We simply wanted to do what we love and we discovered that beside travelling, it is also taking care of our planet by picking up garbage wherever we go and give talks in schools to raise awareness, motivate others and educate young students. Many people including our closest friends and family questioned our decisions but we followed our hearts and did it anyway and we do not regret it at all.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Our project is about picking up trash wherever we go, inspiring others to join forces with us for group cleanups. However, we know that picking up trash is not the solution to the problem. The solution is education, so we regularly give talks in schools and teach students of all ages the importance of taking care of our planet. We follow the motto to act locally but think globally because on Earth everything is connected and we tried to explain it to others too.
It all started 2 years ago in Barcelona during Covid lockdown. We knew we wanted to set on journey to travel the world. Moreover, we did not want to be typical travel influencers, we seeked something more. One day, we sat on it and realized we always travel to places with water – beach, lake, waterfalls, rivers etc. So, we thought, okay, we are AQUAHOLICS. Then, during the World Ocean Day 2020, we went to clean our favorite beach. Since then, we could not stop. Litter is a big problem for all water on the planet and water gives life. That was it, we decided to clean our planet on travels!
First, we launched Instagram account @mjaquaholics and started sharing information about water, but it quickly changed focus on the litter picking. In the beginning it was just us two picking up trash. Then, we also started organizing group cleanups in Barcelona. There was, or better say still is, so much trash! When visiting our friends and family in Czech Republic, we did the same there.
When we decided to quit our jobs and travel full-time, Míša had the idea of starting TikTok account in Spanish because our goal is to travel from Mexico to at least Panama, ideally Argentina. In Mexico, it brought only little attention, but once we crossed borders to Guatemala, everything changed. Our first cleanup video got viral and BOOM. From 400 followers we grew to 20k in a day. After 2 months we are at 120k. Spanish is our third language, so that is definitely a challenge, but one of the objectives of this trip was also to improve our Spanish and doing TikTok this way helped tremendously.
The viral video changed our life. Suddenly, people were inviting us to their towns to organize something. People started to talk about the issue more and that was the goal. Central America has a BIG trash problem – lack of recollection, recycling and culture for keeping nature clean. We know it will not change instantly, but seeing the positive energy, especially from young people give us energy to continue working hard. It is frustrating at times, but we always try to focus on our positive actions rather than on negative actions of others. We learned a lot patience on the way and different ways to approach different people.
Right now, we are at 3 tons of picked up trash in 5 countries with over 250 volunteers. Plus, we gave 10 talks in schools for hundreds of students in 2 countries and we hope these number will only grow.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If it would be our hometown, we would say skip it and enjoy other parts of Czech Republic. Go to Prague, visit the historic center, Charles bridge, go to jazz club, visit the Prague Castle. You like wine? Go to Pálava in the east of the country! You like beer? Every town had their own brewery, you will love it. You like history? There are literally hundreds of castles around our country. We got tiny dessert, there is even a tiny jungle in the south. Like hiking? We got beautiful mountains! There is so much to do, plus our country is pretty cheap (except the capital, of course). Anyone can find what they like.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
That is kind of difficult to answer. We come from one of the poorest parts of Czech Republic. Our town is build in the typical communist style, thus very ugly and we both always wanted to leave this place as soon as possible. That was big motivator for us.
Speaking about role models. There is definitely 4ocean which served as an introduction to the world of trash picking. There are definitely numerous people who gave us tiny pieces to the overall puzzle of our ideal life, but we cannot name anyone in particular. We simply wanted to have opposite lives as average person from our hometown.
Other: TikTok in Spanish – https://www.tiktok.com/@mjaquaholics