slowly surely + xyz : a journey of (re)discovery

I AM. Fiya

By InspiredJourney


 I first encountered him, in passing, as I cut through the laundry room while walking to my casita.

He was bent over, at the waist, and frantically rifling through a basket of folded clothing that was stacked on a floor-level shelf.

The energy was odd; as if I’d caught a child doing something he knew was naughty. However, because I was approaching a week being in this environment, I didn’t know who the players (regulars and/or thieves) or anyone beyond Fritz were.

My instinct was screaming in a muffled pitch theaux. But had no clue as to why.


One morning, after finishing my obligation to Hostel Emotional Shakedown, I sat at a poolside table where I began drafting the first post for this blog space when Chema approached and sat in close lounge chair.

We half greeted one another.

He was busy.

Minutes later, he offered me a toke.

I don’t smoke herb, and so, declined.

At this point, we sparked a conversation by inquiring about our stay: volunteer or guest?

Though his English and my Spanish were limited, we learned our respective status. He was a one of the several regulars that would stop and stay at any given time, for any length of time desired.

It was Margeaux who later, for all intents and purposes, loosely referred to him a kind of mascot to the hostel.

He was that regular.

So, my first encounter of seeing him rummaging through the basket prior, made some ‘sense’, in that it normalized his familiarity with the place. However, that didn’t really resolve my overall feeling, but quieted my muffled gut scream, a bit.

Sitting across from him as he puffed on his pinhead (joint), I assessed him more.

He had walked up, slowly, almost sauntering like someone’s overweight abuela, one hand on hip, while wearing  fanny pack across his upper body and a pair of very worn flip flops that showed his feet hadn’t seen water and soap in some time.

Ever come across a person that appears to be blob-like? That was Chema.

He was chubby and dusty … lol.

Chema stood about 5’4″ (162 cm), had a gorgeous mane of dark hair, cute hazel and greenish eyes, a few blackheads needing to be exorcised from his lips ( TMI, sorry. LOL!). He could be deemed endearing, but yes, still chubby and dusty was he.

I enjoy kind people no matter their station in life or blobbiness. And thus, we worked our way through something resembling a conversation.

The day I’d offer to return Jean’s kindness with cocktails, Chema was in the reception on a laptop, sucking from the wifi. While passing him, I offered him a drink. Naturally, he accepted.

We drank. I observed and chronicled it here.

Days came and went.

Anytime I saw Chema, he was either rolling a pinhead, or smoking one. He seemed like a care-free happy guy. I liked that about him.


At some point I was informed and made the decision I had no interest in participation in a potluck planned for a departing volunteer. Call it being particular, or germaphobe, I wasn’t intersted. I did, however, buy and offer something to their spread.

I walk into the kitchen to deliver my offering. It was at this point where I spot Toto making a huge pitcher of coke and rum. It was primarily soda with a pour of someone else’s alcohol he was stealing ‘borrowing’ for his blend. Theft of people’s food and other things was, I guess, par for the course. To me, Toto’s act was exhibit number 21 of why I had zero interest in partaking in their potluck. Not all are ethical, and more importantly, CLEAN. I had minutes nor seconds to give to being sick in a foreign country as a solo traveler.

I sat at the bar, at an admittedly obnoxious distance from their long family style table set up. Glancing over to them at times, I listened to the music and played photographer to capture their night.

Surprisingly, and unbeknownst to his character, Chema was not in attendance.

It was only a slight surprise, as no one was obligated to stick around. People roamed to and from the place like free roaming feral cats.

It wasn’t until the following morning when, at just before daybreak, I see a taxi roll up to the entrance. Here is when I learn the reason for a couple players absence from the potluck. I just knew there had to be a reason for Chema’s absence … lol. He wasn’t one to miss an opportunity to be a receiver of ‘kindness’.

Precious Javier walks in and tells the story of just bailing out of jail. He goes on to say Chema was still there because he didn’t have the money to bail out.

Their offense? Smoking herb.

Javier, though a little miffed about the outlay of cash, seemed to take it in stride.

I really liked this guy’s disposition. You could feel sincere goodness emanating from him, always.

We laughed at the prospect of Chema getting out in a timely fashion, after which, Javier left me at the reception to go get some needed sleep.

The next day I see Chema roaming around the grounds as if nothing had happened the previous night. Not having a common language, we didn’t speak of the incident.

The following morning, I was yet again, graced with his presence at that pool. This spot had become our informal morning meeting spot. This morning, we speak about where we’re from and all things marijuana: different strains, legalization and pot clubs in California and other states.

We didn’t delve into the actual specifics of the strains, but more my questioning his herb’s potency. Living in California, one comes to know marijuana by it’s loud and pungent skunky quality.

Di louder di fiya, di more di fiya burhn. Don’t ask where/ how I crafted that statement. I’m creative by nature. Just leave it there.

Getting back to di fiya, his herb seemed like garbage. There was no scent. I told him so, while suggesting he’d love feeding his habit in California. He was intrigued. The statement led to us discussing visa costs, etc. He couldn’t afford any of the costs that would see him on a trip north of the border. We left it there.

During this conversation, I learned he was leaving Hostel Breakdown the following day. He cited his ‘vacation’ was over, and that it was time to get back home. I later learned from others that he had a child on the way.

Because he was leaving, I thought to send him off, treating him to a few cocktails before departure.

I found myself back at 69, buying more rum, sprite and ice in preparation for the coming night’s festivities.

I opted to have it be a private affair by the pool, as oppose to the reception area. It seemed to me the use of this common area was just a bit out of sync with its intended use. I felt, that from a business perspective, posting up in this space was not a good look. And besides, it was meant to me a mellow evening; one where I wasn’t attempting to wet every scavenger’s whistle. But, by the time Chema and I met at the pool, all of the not-so-scavengers were in tow. He had obviously spread the word of free liquor, and Chief no-so-scavenger Toto was among the crew.

Everyone had showed: Jean, the two funny Brits, the two young Norwegians … people I had never seen … lol. And everyone wanted and did drink.

At one point, Toto made a statement that had hinted at him inquiring about the depth of my coin purse, questioning my intent, all while reaching for the bottle. Understanding I was hearing to at a juvenile, I simply looked without ever responding to him.

Eventually Margeaux, who had appeared at some point. And though tolerating my shade for a good while, she rightfully caught the vibe I didn’t welcome her presence and energy was not welcomed and left. I didn’t have the stomach to not be obviously annoyed by her, and sat mostly positioned with my back to her. Was I being petty. Nah. I felt disdain for her because my initial vibration was had been revealed as true in what I’ll dub Operation Lockgate.

Le Sigh.

So, the night was filled and ended after listening to music on my phone tethered to a speaker via bluetooth, all booze drained from the bottle, Margeaux exiting stage left and a bit of excited karaoke-esque performance from Chema. He enjoyed himself. That was my sole intent. It was a ‘fun’ evening.

It was also the prelude to my learning a new skill I never knew I needed: Contain the contents of your mouth when your salivary glands lose control.





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