I said goodbye to the Frenchman last night. He is on his way now to Oaxaca city, where his brother will join him for a time, and then to the state of Chiapas, to Guatemala, and on to Brazil with a detour somewhere in there to British Columbia to work a harvest or prune trees or something.
Hell, I worry about him. I do not know how his mother bears it. It is difficult to get a photo of him straight. He is always mugging for the camera. He explains that he does this so that if his mother does see the photo of him, she will know that he is okay. If she were to see a serious photo of him, she would come after him or send someone.
Both of Fabien's parents are still living in southern France. Fabien was born in 1975. I am one year older than his father. His father is retired now and an avid bicyclist and hiker himself, who as I gather enjoys his son's adventures vicariously. In any event I cannot let Fabien go without saying something more about him here. His nickname is “Fab,“ and I do not believe that I have ever heard a more appropriate nickname for anyone in my life.
Fabien left university before completing it and hit the road with his backpack. He has spent extended periods of time in Ireland (bad), Africa (frightening and horrifying), Thailand (good), India ( south bad, north good), Australia, New Zealand (both fantastic), and now México (good) and shorter periods of time in a helluva lot of other places. He is an extraordinary raconteur with fascinating stories about the places he has visited.
Fabien supports himself by working in short spurts at hard labor of this or that sort—harvesting crops, pruning orchard trees, shearing sheep, tending horses on a large horse farm in Ireland. He collects his cash and moves on. He came to be at Terresa's Permaculture spread outside of town here through the auspices of the WWOOF Mexico program. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. You can see a sampling of how people initially connect with Terresa here in order to have an opportunity to work on her place.
If Fabien decides that he wants to make your acquaintance, he will make your acquaintance. And if you pass some sort of internal muster of his, he will embrace you. For some reason he decided this about me from the first moment we bumped into each other. I had very little choice in the matter, but I would not have missed this acquaintanceship for the world. Having watched him operate, I know I am just the latest of many and not the last.
It has been very nearly a non-stop conversation—over coffee in the morning under my awning, over tea in the afternoon in Maga's kitchen, beside campfires at night in the desert--from the first and for the last month and half. French politics, American politics, religion, films, books, history, women, food, his travels, my background and profession, and on and on. I wish I could give you a sample.
Fabien reads. He also asks questions and listens to the answers. He knows things. We watched México play the United States on television together. It was even fascinating to listen to him reminisce about French soccer. He is like a sponge that has soaked up everything with which he has come in contact.
Fabien's English is good, although he apologizes for it. It is his travel language. His Spanish is barely serviceable, but he is fearless. He is delighted with my American accent when I speak French, the only Frenchman in the world I can say that about. I have been stopped at military or police checkpoints on three different occasions with Fabien in the truck with me. Those were the only occasions when he was quiet.
I traded him my well-worn python cowboy boots for a pair of his high end French flip flops early on in our acquaintance because our feet are the same size even though he towers over me. He swears that those boots will make it back to France. I have no idea where they are going to fit in that backpack, but I believe him. Other than flip flops for around town, he has one pair of English shoes that are perfectly shot. Holes in the soles. I begged him to wear my low top Timberland's for the hike up the mountain, but he would have none of it.
He laughed at my coffee percolator while at the same time being mesmerized by it. Going to the grocery store with him is an adventure involving side conversations with the other patrons, whoops and hollers over food discoveries, flirtations with the lady at the counter. He owns no hats himself but puts on other people's hats or caps whenever the opportunity presents itself.
His enthusiasms are grand and omnifarious. He was astounded that I wanted to stay in the desert with Maga and him for three nights when we had only planned on two and responded by providing me with three memorable nights of my life that did not involve sex, not to mention the trip to the top of the mountain.
I do not know how this deal with Maga is going to work, and I have never asked. Maga herself will be moving back to Cancún, her family home, very soon. Then she is off to Tokyo for another art exhibit there. Maga may be just another who was swept up temporarily in this whirlwind that is Fabien. More about Magaly Padilla later.
I miss that scamp Fabien already even though we just said our manly goodbyes last evening. But that is the way it goes. It is raining hard on San Miguel right now as I write this.
Il pleure dans mon coeur comme il pleut sur la ville. . . . –Paul Verlaine, I think.