Day 44 - Patrick (1st person I approached)
February 13, 2014 - Patrick was sitting alone on a bench when I walked right past him. I did a quick double-take, second guessing myself, and, as per my own challenge - I turned around and approached him. He seemed hesitant at first, but he said he’d talk with me. Initially he didn’t make a lot of eye contact. Soon though, we were having a great conversation, and I spent a good 25 minutes finding out about this fascinating man.
Born in Quebec, “between Quebec City and the state border with Maine,” Patrick has moved around. He is the oldest of three. “I don’t speak to my sisters every day, no. But we stay in touch. Usually by telephone.” Patrick tells me he speaks six languages and that he has travelled the world three times over. I ask a bunch of questions, uncertain about his story. I’m soon convinced that he is telling me the truth. He was able to fluently name cities and languages spoken, seemingly without effort. He also has a beautiful accent and is extremely well spoken. “I used to live on the west coast when I was younger, on the Island, in Duncan. I lived with a bunch of hippies, in the late 70’s. There was a field that about 12 of us lived on. I was the only one who spoke French, so I had to learn to speak English, to communicate. There was a farmer’s field across from where we were located, and at night, we’d go and load up sacks of cauliflower and broccoli. The remnants that the farmer had left to turn to seed, for the next year’s crop. I hunted some as well, and fished.” After the hippy living, Patrick made his way back to Quebec.
When I asked Patrick where he had traveled to, the list was endless. “Guatemala was my favourite. I’ve been there four times. The people are beautiful, and friendly. And of course, the scenery, the countryside. Amazing. I stayed one time for about six months, on the edge of Lago de Atitlan, at San Pedro Laguna (FACT CHECK - Lake Atitlan http://bit.ly/1eYnZaY). The local people have been there for centuries and didn’t speak English. I learned to speak a regional dialect of theirs, Tz'utujil (FACT CHECK - http://bit.ly/1c3KhH8). He spent his time living with the locals, “traveling for pleasure, and adventure.” When I asked if there was any place he had been that he didn’t care for, Patrick immediately said “no,” then pondered for a bit. “Well, Eastern Europeans, they can be hard. Tough to get to know them. Hungary, beautiful place, but the people though, they're harsh. Just really direct and they don’t mince their words. Not my favourite place, that’s for sure.” For the past 18 years, Patrick has lived near Mount Pleasant, with his wife of almost 17 years. They have no children. He is currently on disability and walks with a cane.
Patrick tells me about one particular hunting trip with a friend. “We were out shooting, this was about, oh…” as he tried to figure out when, he pauses. “About 18 years ago, I guess. Just after I came back to the West Coast. We were out hunting, on the Island. We stopped for lunch. Sandwiches. I was sitting on one log, and my friend was sitting on another across from me. The stupid fool, he didn’t put on the safety on his gun, and it discharged, shooting me right here.” Patrick lifts his beard and pulls down the collar of his shirt. There is a very large scar, it that looks like a large scar from a burn. It goes from just below his jawline, to his collarbone, and from the left of his throat to his shoulder. “He managed to get help. I was lucky, and they got me out of the woods, and to a hospital. I spent a few months there in hospital. They took skin grafts from both thighs and patched me up.” I said how glad I am that he survived, that he was lucky it hadn’t been an inch or more toward his throat or his head. He lets out a deep belly laugh. “Fuck yeah. I wouldn’t be here now talking with you, that’s for sure!” I asked Patrick if he forgave his friend for that injury. “Of course, it was an accident. He’s a complete moron, but I’ve known him since we were kids. Yeah, I forgave him. You have to.” #notastranger