Saturday, June 10, 2017

Humberto Fernandez

Humberto Fernandez Tristan ended his walk on this plane of existence on Monday, June 5th at around 7:30.  Those who knew and loved him will miss him and his remarkable character greatly.

Last week, Charlie Loving and I flew to San Luis Potosi, rented a car, and drove to Matehuala.  There we found Humberto outside his house in a screened in tent with plywood floors underneath a large pecan tree.  He was reclining in a beefed up anti-gravity chair with a foamy finger mattress underneath him.  He was really thin and his legs were down to the bone.  Even so, with his flower lai and dark glasses on, he was cool.

The scene was beautiful.  Humberto was surrounded by his dogs, the birds, and most importantly his loving family.  There were water fountains giving off soft soothing sounds into the traffic free air.  There were flowers that made the air almost sweet.  Inside the tent, Humberto spoke in a very low voice.  Almost every word was thankfulness and how privileged he was to have had such a good life.

There was no fear in his voice.  He told us he would see us on the other side. For about 90 seconds, his spirit arose and he spoke as if he might arise out of the chair.

We kissed and held his hands and stayed for about an hour.

As Charlie and I drove up the mountain, we tried to absorb what we had just experienced.  We were clear that Humberto was somewhere between the beginning of the end and the end of the end.

Four days later, close to midnight, I heard someone come into the courtyard door and come up the stairs.  It was his older daughters, Dawn and Melodia.

They came in and told me...."Daddy passed away at around sunset."

The next day, we went down the mountain and to his house.  We picked up Cornelia and took her to the crematorium where Humberto's body had been taken earlier in the morning.  There we met with Humberto's three brothers and two sisters, his two older daughters, and some of their cousins.

Within a few hours, Humberto's ashes arrived in one of his beautiful Huichole bags.  It was still warm.  We formed a circle as we each held his remains, some of us holding and kissing the remains of the man who had such an extraordinary walk through this world.

He is surely flying through another one now.

On New Years Eve last year, I interviewed Humberto at his house in Catorce.   You can see why Don Humberto will be so missed by so many.

I hope that others who love and have been loved by Humberto will post their experiences with Humberto in the comments.

Plans are being made right now for a celebration of his life in Real de Catorce. They will include a procession to Quemado and later to the old church grounds. It looks like the date is June 20th.

If you want to go from Texas, let me know.


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Blogger Vista de Peyote Cafe said...

Thanks Michael...

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Michael. Christy and I are sorry to hear the news and send our love to Cornelia and all the family. We all have so many Humberto stories (like the aluminum revolving clothes drying rack covered in hundreds of rockets that wasn't meant to fly but which helicoptered fifty feet above the roof of the hotel before burning out and plunging a 100 feet to the street below where it impaled a VW bug). When I wrote about a Catorce and Humberto for Texas Monthly, the highlight was our all-day horseback ride over the mountain to the old church and the little bar across the mountain with all the burros parked out front. The only way home at sunset was to ride the horses through the dark 1 1/2 mile tunnel - no lights then as you remember. Humberto's flashlight died in the first hundred yards and the horses started to panic in the dark. Humberto said we had to gallop to make it so we rode full pace blindfolded with the horses steering by feeling the slope towards the middle of the one lane. One of the greatest experiences of my life, and just one of many adventures with Humberto. I already missed him, but now I miss him more. TURK PIPKIN

8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Evan Gassiot I , like so many, have lots of Humberto experiences to relate, almost forty years of them. We shared many things over those years, the growth of our children, the building of our homes, the birth of grandchildren, the loss of dear friends. Above all we shared a love of a place. Real de Catorce and the mountains and desert around it. As wonderful and spiritual a place as it is, Humberto's presence will be missed, but will always endure. So many good and magical times with my brother.

8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keri Dawn Solner..... Omg- what a legend. Thanks for sharing

8:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lisa Kaselak.... A legend indeed. Thanks for sharing Michael.

8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Humberto touched so many hearts... a remarkable man, father and community builder. Thank you. DANA SPRUTE

8:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ross Richard-Crow... Please pass on our condolences to his lovely daughters. He was great man. Thanks for sharing this wonderful interview of Humberto.

8:29 PM  
Anonymous Frances Morey said...

My acquaintance with Humberto was brief but unforgettable. On Thanksgiving in 2003 I was with a group of friends who had traveled to Real de Catorce for a four day holiday weekend. After a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at the home of the late Ed Alexander, Humberto invited whoever would like to come over to his place to cook cabrito.
It was cold and we formed a circle, kiva style, around a fire pit as Humberto buried cut-up cabrito meat in a pit with coals. The preparation included lining the pit with agave leaves, coals and meat in successive layers, with a final layer of agave leaves, then covering it over with dirt. He grandly invited us back for another party the next day.
The whole group reassembled on the following evening. We were served the delicious cabrito meat that had cooked for 20 hours as part of a lovely buffet of delectable dishes.
He certainly had a flair for entertaining and was a most gracious host. It was a lovely experience. I felt elated to have witnessed the ancient cooking ritual. I felt a renewed appreciation for the kiva's I had seen at Mesa Verde.
It is hard for me to imagine Real de Catorce without Humberto's presence and hospitality. My deepest sympathy goes out to his family and the many friends who held him in the highest esteem.

11:20 PM  
Anonymous Nancy Weaver said...

theres a hell of a meeting in heaven with Ed and Humberto

6:18 AM  
Blogger oZ said...

just heard from Melodie, the day is the 20th.... march to Quemado in the morning early (7:30) and go to the church grounds at 5:30

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here's a good link from Texas Monthly on Humberto and Catorce by Turk Pipkin

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ish Kundawala.... Thanks for sharing. Sorry to hear of his passing. We need a real de catorce reunion soon. I miss you.

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kevin Conlin... So sorry to hear of his passing, Oz

3:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think there is enough room,but I want to say than you for the wonderful memories of real de catorce. My spirit is there because of you.every time I cross the tunnel my heart goes faster until I see the light and I can see the buildings,then I feel at home. I used to go with my parents Esteban and maria de Jesus to work for humberto. Thanks to him we allways had our new clothes and shoes for school. One year I met a nice men call Charlie. I help Charlie make some quesadillas so he can sell them, and he would all ways game me money. I have some of the best memories of my childhood in the hotels and outside the store where I sat with my mother sailing picans and champurrado with pan. I Wil all wllyas remember humberto and his family. Thank you for everything especially for giving my parents a job.May the the spirits take your spirit in their arms and take you to the heavens.

5:56 PM  
Blogger triciaco25 said...

Tricia Coogan, sorry to hear about his passing. We made many memories as children and adults there. I always looked forward to seeing them.

3:53 PM  

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