If you’re a world traveler from Houma, the quickest way to get back home would be to click your heels three times and repeat these words . . . “there’s no place like Houma, there’s no place like Houma, there’s no place like Houma.” This way of traveling beats a plane trip or a long ride home in a car any day.
I’ve had the pleasure to turn my lens toward a special place in Houma that sits on the edge of the Intracoastal Waterway. A quaint tiki hut was the vision of one of the Fakier brothers, the late Glenn Fakier, a gemologist who lived in Houma and traveled the world taking in the cultures of the places he visited. His travels took him to Eastern Europe, China, Colombia, Thailand, Costa Rica, Africa, Mexico, and the Amazon where he learned the ways of the indigenous people. His expeditions were filled with stories of the locals he had met in every country he visited. He was drawn more closely to the tropical regions, hence making his own living space a model of what he experienced abroad. Glenn’s younger brother George had the privilege to accompany him on many of these trips. Now a financial planner living in San Diego, George looks forward to his frequent trips back home where he enjoys a small part of the world his brother created. Houma is his second home. “You just can’t find any place quite like it.” His brother Greg and sister Susan oversee the family-run jewelry business.
As I made my own survey of the place, I could see he had indeed accomplished what he set out to do. At every turn there was something from another part of the world. The beautiful wooden flooring is Brazilian cherry wood; the support beams in the hut are African eucalyptus beams that have been pressure treated and cast a green tint. Glenn preferred the deep rich rose of the natural wood that lay beneath, so he sanded each by hand and applied a more natural finishing stain. These beams are the support for the roof. There are only two partial walls within the tiki hut: a separation wall between the bathroom and kitchen, and a wall that supports the only closet in the place.
The ceiling is made of solid plywood nailed to rafters with a bamboo sheeting overlay. The large picture windows throughout the hut allow for an ample amount of natural sunlight to filter through. The warm amber hues of our Louisiana sunsets are simply magnificent to behold as each day comes to an end. Greg and George both agree each one is as unique as each new day.
When traveling abroad, Glenn traveled light, bringing with him only a small satchel large enough for a pair of shoes or sandals, a change of clothes, and a toothbrush. His approach to living was one we all can learn from: keep life simple, share your love of life with others, and surround yourself with those things you hold dear.
Daniel Barrios built the tiki hut alongside Glenn. “It was fairly simple. Glenn made decisions as we went along. There was no blueprint to follow; he just knew what he wanted.” Like the Asian screens he found in a marketplace. Two of them were brought in and they were transformed into beautiful interior doors for the bath area. The four entry doors came from the Ming Dynasty and are of mahogany wood carved with great detail.
The mahogany crates which housed the flooring were used to make the kitchen cabinets. The rough finish on the exterior of the crates was the perfect surface Glenn was looking for, and was in keeping with the theme of the tiki hut, natural and uninhibited.
The interior walls were sheetrocked with a semi-rough finish, and an opaque glaze was applied to give it an old world appeal. Entering the bath area you sense a bit of the lure the Amazon must have had on Glenn. Tropical murals with exotic birds fill the walls. The flooring is river rock, flat rock that has been rubbed smooth by the rush of water. It is inlayed in cement with a clear coating for durability. Four-foot walls encase the wet area giving you a sense of open space.
One of Glenn’s prized possessions sits within this area; it’s a statue of a large parrot which stands seven feet tall. Six years ago Glenn carried this on board a commercial airline. Today such a thing would not be possible.
His love of other cultures is further stated by the Chinese silk screens which hang in the living area. An overstuffed sofa, teakwood chairs, and natural fiber rugs tell of his expeditions. The doors throughout the hut are the main focus and can be seen from any angle in any room. They speak of faraway lands and a man who lived life fully and was willing to share with the world what he saw.
As I pack up my gear and head toward my own home I realize the symbolism in Glenn’s focal points. These doors are thresholds to new beginnings; one leads out into something new. I am reminded of the words Abbie Graham penned:
- I open a door. The gorgeous guest from afar sweeps in.
- In her hands are her gifts
- The gift of hours and far seeing moments,
- The gift of mornings and evenings,
- The gift of spring and summer,
- The gift of autumn and winter.
- She must have searched the heavens for boons so rare.