Mind you, this disparate pair looked to me more homeless themselves than someone in the business of feeding the poor, let alone making the trek of 1,000 miles south circumventing legal adversities in pursuit of their mission in life; simply sharing with others the little they had if any.

Julio Guerrero

As we were approaching Santa Barbara, I asked for their friends’ address so I could drop them off, but to my surprise their answer was that they didn’t have a street address. “Ok, a phone number, maybe we could call them and get their address” I suggested. “No, our friends don’t have a telephone” was their response. I have done my share of traveling, sometimes even without much planning but I always know who to contact and have an idea of where I’ll spend the night so although I wasn’t worried about their response, I was intrigued by their obvious carefree attitude.

Arguing that I had to have a specific safe place where to leave them they told me “just drop us off at the fig tree” No more vague an answer could I have expected, so I insisted “do you have names for your friends” figuring I could locate them through public records but they looked at me as if I hadn’t understood, referring back to the fig tree as a meeting point with their local connections. So, I asked “where do I find this fig tree, do you know where it is?”

By this time, we are already in Santa Barbara off the freeway driving along some random street and still have neither idea where I am going or what to do with my passengers feeling a strong sense of responsibility towards Bob and Lily since they entrusted them to me.

“Just ask directions for the fig tree to anyone” was their answer to my state of confusion.
So knowing and accepting I’d look stupid I slowed down and dared asking a young man that was jogging along, “Excuse me, can you please tell me how to get to the fig tree?” To my surprise he said without blinking “sure, just go to the end of the street, make a right and follow the street all the way, you can’t miss it.” Still feeling like I was in a dream, I followed the directions and lo and behold, there was the biggest fig tree I could have ever imagined and sure enough, impossible to miss.

I approached the site slowly still trying to make sense of what was going on and was mesmerized by the majestic sight. The tree looked like a huge mushroom resting in a small pie-shaped park. I have seen many fig trees during my life and as healthy as they can be with a beautiful wide treetop, they never grow taller than 15 feet or so, but this one had to be qualified as a giant fig tree. Later on I came to learn about the Australian Moreton Bay fig tree being a key landmark for the locals in Santa Barbara.  

Another thing that impressed me although not surprised me was the several dozens of homeless people under the tree as if seeking protection under a big natural umbrella.
As I pulled over and parked, my two passengers didn’t waste any time working their way out the door to join their new community, so I asked the younger fellow. 

Are your friends here?
we don’t know, but we’re supposed to meet them here 
do you see them in the group?
I can’t tell, we’ve never met them before
so, how would you know?
oh, we’ll know? 

I felt sorry for them so before he walked away, I pulled out my last ten dollars bill and gave it to him. As he said thanks, he gave me a small black book no bigger than a cell phone and told me it was a copy of a handwritten bible, so that I could deliver to Cesar Chavez 

As I drove away, I felt their aura stayed with me in the car and kept pondering on the whole experience as if in a daze. Here I was, worried about my personal well-being, about what would I do next without a job possibility in sight and no place to stay, while these two men who had less than me, were more concerned about giving to others in worse shape.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content