From the jungle straight to campus

24. 6. 2022

Coconuts, palm trees and a sunny beach. Faculty of Economics and Administration student Enrique Lysoněk went to paradise on earth as a contestant of the reality show Survivor. On Team Azua, he fought for survival on a desert island. He survived for a month with minimal food and belongings on the edge of the jungle. The consolation for dropping out early was that he made it back in time for the first day of the semester.


What was the first meal you had after returning to the Czech Republic?

It was McDonald's. I was really looking forward to it and it was the first thing I wanted to eat. The first place I went to when I arrived in Pardubice was for a hamburger at the train station (laughs).

Some viewers objected that you were living in "luxury". They saw that you had tea, for example.

To anyone who says that, I'd like to take them there. If it's a luxury for someone to have a coconut for breakfast every day, I'll give it to them. Coconut for breakfast, coconut for lunch, coconut for dinner. It's true that the red tribe of Mao had tea because they brewed it from some berries. We had berries too, but they were not ripe. It was definitely not a luxury.

What did you miss most from the luxuries you are used to at home?

The biggest discomfort for me was eating and sleeping on the hard ground. I still can't sleep in a bed and my back hurts. I am gradually getting used to it and sleep alternately on the floor and on a mattress. The weather was really fantastic. The sun shone all the time, only occasionally it rained, otherwise it was always warm. But that's all.

We've already talked about coconut, but what else did you eat?

We had rice. We got a kilo for the whole team for the week, so we had a spoonful and a half of uncooked rice per person about three times a week. It was very little. If we were lucky, we'd win potatoes or beans and make, like, soups. At the beginning we also got spoons, forks, cups and a pot. In the first competition we also won an axe, hammer, saw and rope, which came in handy.

How did you practice personal hygiene on the island?

We used to brush our teeth with water and ash. Well, I tried it once and I lacerated my gum, so I didn't do it again. I didn't brush my teeth for 24 days. Since we didn't have food, it wasn't really necessary. And instead of a shower, we had the ocean. We washed our hair with salt water, which made it completely stiff.

Could you describe what a typical day was like?

I have no idea what time we got up. We had absolutely no idea of the time and we couldn't tell it from the sun. But I usually woke up at dawn, when other competitors were already by the fire drying things. For every breakfast, we had a coconut. Then we did things that were needed, like carrying wood. At the beginning we built a shelter together, and we also collected coconuts. We collected them on the beach and carried about ten of them. Sometimes we went fishing, but we soon abandoned that because we were unsuccessful most of the time.

And what did you do in the afternoon?

Later, we mainly rested. Lukas made chess pieces out of wood, which shortened our time. In addition, we participated in competitions. When we won a prize, we cooked with the ingredients we got when we returned. Or we'd go for a swim in the sea to wash off the loss and cool off. In the evening, we'd go and watch the sunset. We would sit on the beach on a bench made again by Lukas. We had a beautiful view there that I will remember for the rest of my life. Later we spent time together around the fire, sometimes singing. At night I often slept in the open because we couldn't all huddle together under the shelter. Some of us would wake up during the night and go to tend the fire regularly.

Why did you enter the competition in the first place?

When I was younger, it was on TV and I watched it every night. We talked about it at school, totally immersed in it. When Robinson's Island (a similar reality show – ed.) was on, it was the same thing. Even at that time I wished it was here too. When Robinson's Island came to the Czech Republic, I was 17 years old, so I couldn't apply. And I didn't even think I would make it. But one day I was scrolling through TikTok and I saw an ad for Survivor Czech & Slovakia. I didn't hesitate for a second. I clicked right away and signed up. The next day I made a motivational video and sent it in.

The start of the show was postponed due to the pandemic. What was going on?

That's right, it was because we had Covid. We have no idea where we caught it, we were all tested before we left, yet the infection got in. A lot of us ended up testing positive, and I was one of them. We were in isolation in a hotel room the whole time.

Did you prepare physically and mentally for the competition?

I knew from the beginning what I was getting into. I knew I'd be very hungry there. Two months before the competition, I ate a lot more and managed to gain a little weight. But I lost a lot more kilos on the island than I gained before I left. I tried not to think about hunger and not to tell myself that I was hungry. Mentally, it's more about being with strangers. It took a lot of tolerance.

Did you go into the competition with any tactics?

I had some plans, but I went in knowing that anything could happen. I knew from the beginning that the game was about alliances. Having an alliance was one of the tasks I set myself. I didn't expect it to go so fast, that there would be so many people that I would have a similar opinion with. So, I guess the tactic was just to hang on as long as possible, and also to play clean, even though it was clear that there was lying and tactics at play. I was a tactical player, but I didn't lie once. The game is also about betrayal, but I can't do that. I thought that since Survivor was my dream game, I would change there in that way, but I couldn't. And maybe that's why I'm here.

Do you notice any differences between the Czech and American versions of Survivor?

If I were to compare the game system, the two-person challenges that decide which of the two proposed players will leave the island are hugely different. People don't like that. Although I lost the challenge, I'm still a supporter. They can completely change the game. I hope these challenges show up in the US versions as well. The audience also criticised the fact that we had blankets to sleep on. In Robinson's Island, again, the participants had more pieces of clothing so they could sleep in them. We had fewer clothes and a blanket instead.

They say Survivor is a sort of relationship catalyst.

On a desert island, people get to know each other very quickly. In the beginning, everyone talks to everyone, but then some relationships deepen and some fade. You just can't get along with everyone in this game.

How was the return to social media?

It was a shock to me, for better or worse. A lot of criticism and hatred poured in. I'm trying not to take to heart the nearly 400 comments under my photo. Only a small portion of them is about me, and the rest are people arguing with each other. Occasionally someone criticises my appearance, which I find completely out of line. But in private messages I get a lot of support and constructive criticism, like how I should have done it better and so on. I'm grateful for that, and I'm also glad that my fan base has grown.

Have you looked back at the episodes that aired?

Just some of them. I'm sorry they cut out my frequent line that it's Survivor and you never know what's going to happen on the island. I understand that the editing is done to entertain the audience. When I watched from episode 10 onwards, I thought it was good and didn't miss anything. But it's different for everyone. For me it was the games, but I understand that people wanted to see more of how we live on the island, for example.

When you were on the island, it was the exam period here. How did you arrange that?

I sent a long email to the vice-dean, trying to explain everything. Actually, I wrote to her that I was going somewhere, I don't know where, I don't know when I'll be leaving or when I'll be back, but that I needed to postpone the exam period. I think she must have thought I was crazy because she didn't know the competition. But she was as helpful as she could be and advised me on what to do. So, I had a postponed exam period and potentially the start of the summer term. But in the end, I came back on the first day of the semester exactly. Now I have a lot on my plate, but up until now I've been enjoying myself and fulfilling my dream, so I need to get busy.

What has Survivor given you in your life?

Definitely a new perspective on people and the world around us. There were 11 people I didn't know at all, and suddenly I had to live with them. It also taught me a tolerance that was very much needed there. I also got the experience of filming and participating in such a huge project. When I say Survivor now, I think of hunger, competitions, living with people, alliances, and so on. I will always know that hunger is something you can endure. It's in your head.