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.

New Image
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.

The fan man



THE TOP PHOTO is a huge mural you’ll see on the main drag as you drive toward the state capital 40 minutes down the mountainside.

The other photo is the individual in question. He is our town’s most notable character, a position I doubt he is aware of even though he’s been the topic of numerous artworks. He even hangs in galleries.

He is incredibly grungy. One wonders where he sleeps nights, if he even has a home. His clothes, his hat, appear to have been dredged from beneath the municipal waste dump

I do not know his name though I have spoken with him a thousand times.

He’s a sidewalk peddler, and what he peddles are straw fans, perhaps to cool your face on warm afternoons in spring, or to fan embers of a dying fire for our winter nights.

The mural has him smoking. I’ve never seen him smoking.

Here’s the routine: I’m sitting at a sidewalk table with Kindle and cafecito. Here he comes. Buy a fan, he indicates. He usually does not speak, just waves the string of fans and grunts a bit.

I say I already have purchased two, which is true, years ago. He replies that I need a third. I say no. He will continue pushing until I say the magic phrase: Maybe tomorrow. That always satisfies him, and he leaves.

For another shot of the fellow, go here.