Tropical Madness

6 Jan

Today’s post is all about a friend of mine, Marc De Faoite.

While I haven’t actually seen Marc in person since the spring of 2001, thankfully our friendship is deep enough to withstand not physically hanging out much.  Modern communications via Facebook and email have helped us stay in touch in spite of quite a geographic distance.

Marc's new book

Marc’s new book

When I last saw Marc, we were camping in the Pyrenees, debating all number of issues under the clear night skies of those amazing mountains.

We first met in Belgium back in 1995.  Working in a hotel together, we became fast friends. Marc grew up in Ireland. Soon though, it became clear we shared more in common than language. Surrounded by Flemish and Walloons, our common language of English helped foster what would later become one of my favorite friendships.

We spent the entire summer together harassing the entire female population of Belgium.  He also spent countless evenings disabusing me of my romantic notions of my Irish ancestry. In turn, I’d be extolling the amazing beauty of California and imploring him to understand that not all of America was what one saw in movies and on TV.

He helped me come to grips with a failing relationship in America and a budding new love affair in Europe. He showed me the ropes of working in Europe and taught me that my hard-driving American ways wouldn’t go over to well with my European superiors at the office.

He sampled chocolate chip cookies for the first time. I sampled imported goods he’d brought back from Malawi. We both explored cheap eats and amazing beers and wines. Most important of all, he awakened the inner writer in me. This is something for which I’ll always be grateful. Along the way, we drank, smoked and so thoroughly enjoyed that summer together as outsiders in a strange little country that when I invited him to California for the following summer, he jumped at the chance.

I hadn’t understood that would mean his French girlfriend, Deborah, would be along with him. But the three of us stuffed into a 600 square foot cottage in western Petaluma and made it work.

Marc showed me his work ethic as he cleared an overgrown patch of weeds and brambles one week while I was at work.  We turned it into a wonderfully serene patio in the shade. I showed him how to trap gophers. We grew tomatoes and veggies. Deborah took work with my dad’s gas station. Marc soon found work at a local deli.  For the most part, we had sent a second riotous summer together.  Toward the end, the tight space (and perhaps the attitude of his oh so French lady friend) got to us all. They left back for Europe and I got my tiny bit of space back!

In August of 1999, we had an amazing few weeks together in Zimbabwe. New stories and memories were formed by two strong-willed gents who liked to have things their way and weren’t afraid to let that be known. I’ll never forget the train, bus and car rides interrupted by river rafting down the Zambezi, picking up hitch hikers in the middle of no where and camping in the Chimanimani Mountains. All while Robert Mugabe announced plans to kick the whites off their farm land and the country literally fell apart all around us.

Seemingly, this man is a moving story storm. Wherever he goes, stories find him. That’s why I’m excited to read his first published book of short stories. I’ve read through a few, previous to publication.  And I’ve been reading his missives for nearly 20 years now. His writing is fantastic. If you’d ever like to read about what it is like to live in Malaysia, I’d not imagine you could find a better insight.

Congratulations, Marc!  I hope this is only the first of many books you’re to publish!

 

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