The final fan


ESTEBAN URBINA has died. He was the face of our town. His deadpan mug appeared in art galleries and on murals.

But, more than anywhere else, on the sidewalk, hawking.

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Urbina fan

He made a living — loosely speaking — by selling straw fans on the streets.

Though I’ve watched him for many years and even purchased a couple of his wares long ago, I only wrote about him last September in a  post simply titled The fan man.

If his fame ever earned him a single peso, you couldn’t tell it by looking at him. He always looked precisely the same, like he’d awakened in the morning next to a garbage dump, reached in the pile for his attire, dressed and headed downtown.

The sombrero says it all. See below.

He reportedly died of a heart attack. His age is unknown although I read one report that he was 104, which is patent nonsense. Due to  his disheveled physical and sartorial state, his age was hard to guess. I’d put him between 65 and 75.

Years ago, he was followed around by a younger fan vendor who resembled him in attire. It likely was a son. And the son was only a slight bit less unkempt. I have not seen the son in a long time. Maybe he went on to better things.

Perhaps he’s sporting a coat and tie in Guadalajara and selling time-shares or pork futures.

Urbina will be missed. R.I.P.

Esteban Urbina, ????-2016.

14 thoughts on “The final fan

  1. R.I.P., fan man. Many towns here have someone something like him. They usually just disappear one day with few people knowing what happened to them. Or probably even caring. Nice post, Felipe. And sorry your town lost some of its color.


    1. Clete: Esteban’s demise reminded me of another similar fellow from years back. His appearance was pretty much the same as the fan man, but he did not sell anything, appeared to be older, slept on the street, and always carried a machete, which was a little unsettling because he clearly was “not right.”

      He would talk to me on occasion, making little sense, machete at hand, and I would smile, nod and grunt affirmatively now and then. Then he would wander off. He just vanished one day with no fanfare at all.


  2. A nice obituary for someone who is likely otherwise unsung. Reminds me of the lovely obituary you wrote about Al Kinnison some years ago. I never met Al, but you managed to give me a good impression of him, one that has stuck over the years.


    Kim G
    CDMX, México
    Where DF is far from gone or forgotten.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. He was a character indeed.
    I always was amused that his memory was not better. He would ask if I wanted one of the fans 3 or 4 times in one day, depending on where our location was around the plaza. Or he was just a good salesman, by persistent asking.


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