A Fakir “Without Money But Without Rival”
14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta Labrada, Santiago de Cuba, 3 April 2017 — Juan
Antonio Vargas Lefebre inspires exclamations of surprise among Santiago
de Cuba’s inhabitants and visitors. At 72 and living in the Chicharrones
neighborhood, the well-known fakir sets up in the first hours of the day
in Enramadas Street and exhibits his circus talents so that people will
leave him some tips and many compliments.
Nails, bicycle spokes, pens and pencils, are some of the objects that
Vargas puts in his right nostril. “The factory defect is on that side,”
he says jokingly to those who inquire about his unusual physical ability.
“It rains, there’s thunder or lightening, every day comes with something
new,” says a clerk at La California store, who given her proximity is a
frequent spectator of the exploits of this well-known local fakir.
“Sometimes he makes me nervous because the nails he puts in his nose are
quite long,” she says.
Vargas Lefebre is undaunted and boasts that he has traveled “all over
Cuba” and every year presents his street performance at the Rancho
Boyero Fair in Havana
However, Vargas Lefebre is undaunted and boasts that he has traveled
“all over Cuba” and every year presents his street performance at the
Rancho Boyeros Fair in Havana. “I live on the tips they give me, but my
dream is for someone to look at this old man and help me become a real
circus performer,” he concludes.
Jose Antonio Vargas says he has “an iron constitution,” does not drink
or smoke and says his best artistic numbers are “with sharp sabers,” but
he can’t perform them on the street as the police expressly forbid
it. “They are considered weapons, but I look for an out of the way place
where I can do it,” he confesses.
He is considered the only “famous” fakir in all of Cuba and acknowledges
that he is “without money, but without rival.” He also dances, sings and
hums musical notes while pounding with a hammer on his nose as if it
were a piece of wood. The passing tourists leave him with some coins,
which are his main sustenance.
“Don’t try this at home,” he advises a child watching him while putting
the handle of a mirror through his infinite nostril.
Source: A Fakir “Without Money But Without Rival” – Translating Cuba –