Carine Fabius

Blazing New Trails in the Body Art Jungle

Henna TattoosA dozen years ago, we introduced henna tattoos to Los Angeles, and the news spread as quickly as the insatiable desire for real tattoos. After all these years, I can say without fear that people still love henna and its beautiful, organic reddish brown color on the skin. But they never stopped asking us for a temporary tattoo that looks like a real tattoo; so we kept looking for a way to deliver the goods in a safe and natural way. And then we heard about the jagua fruit, which grows in the Amazon. It was supposed to be an edible fruit, full of medicinal properties, plus the ability to stain the skin blue/black — just like a real tattoo — and then disappear completely in 10-14 days.

What?????

It wasn’t easy, but after much searching and investigating, and numerous emails and telephone calls to friends of friends, someone finally put us in contact with a guy living in Peru, who had had dealings with a number of indigenous tribes living in the jungle. A couple of months and multiple in-depth conversations later, we decided to dispatch Pascal Giacomini, my artist husband and partner, on a three-week trip to one of the remote regions where Jagua grows.

Why didn’t you go too?

 I’m sure you’re thinking this, right? No? Well, that’s what all my friends wanted to know. Are you going too?

Um, no thanks.

Morocco

Morocco

This journey reminded me of how our Moroccan affair began with the family of farmers who supply us with our fabulous henna. Pascal was the one who made the initial trip out to the remote and rigorous desert terrain where, before his arrival, the family had only once before in their lives been visited by a foreigner — and she was a scientist on research assignment for a book. I did eventually visit the family, and enjoyed myself tremendously (the stopover included an unforgettable traditional henna session administered by the loving matriarch, and we were welcomed like royalty!). Although I was thankful for the first-hand experience, and have been feeling the call to return, it’s not the kind of trip I want to repeat too often. It took a full day’s drive through scarily deserted country to get there (Please, don’t let the car die out here, I kept thinking). The conditions are very, very harsh, with unbearably dry, gusty winds that made it difficult to see and breathe. There was no running water, electricity or even a latrine — going to the bathroom consisted of digging a hole in the sand — and even though they pleaded with us to stay longer, after two days I worried that every scrap of food we ate was one less morsel they would have for themselves (since we were their guests, there was no way they would take money from us for food). Pascal’s jungle adventure sounded like much the same, only humid. Oh, boy!

A humorous look at relationships

A humorous look at relationships

In my book, Sex, Cheese and French Fries, which takes a humorous look at the challenges of a cross-cultural marriage between an American woman (me) and a French husband (Pascal), there is one chapter titled “I married Indiana Jones” — and I’m not kidding. Pascal is perfectly suited for this kind of trip. He thrives on exploring undiscovered territory; is exactly the kind of guy you’d want to be stuck with on a desert island because he’d figure out how to survive; and he’s got a navigation system built into his genes. Me? To find my way home, my instinct is to line the road behind me with bread crumbs, inevitably eaten by vultures that prey on idiots who don’t know how to read a compass. This trip entailed flying into Lima, Peru, taking another flight to a small town, then another flight to an even smaller village, and from there, taking an eight-hour canoe ride to the tribal village in question. I thought my husband should go first, tell me all about it upon his return, and went shopping for a hat and whip instead.

Amazon Indian

Down in the Amazon

Pascal’s trip established the groundwork for what we hope will be a replica of the mutually beneficial relationship and friendship we enjoy with our Moroccan farmers — a straightforward business transaction between a manufacturer and supplier that grew into so much more! — only this time, with the Indians who harvest the jagua fruit for us in the Amazon jungle.

While he was away, I encouraged Pascal to record his impressions and observations in a journal, and he agreed to do it.

To be continued….

13 responses to “Blazing New Trails in the Body Art Jungle”

  1. Frank Weaver says:

    Great adventure story – can’t wait to find out what happens next!

  2. Yves Lefay says:

    Always a pleasure to read about your adventures as well as your comments on french men!

  3. dearpru says:

    Although I admire Pascal for the eternal flame of adventure that burns brightly within his breast, I completely agree with you, Carine. There is such a thing as adventure overload. I’ll take my adventure dry with two olives in a cabana overlooking a private beach at sunset, s’il-vous plait. (And don’t forget the cabana boy and the jagua! Mmmm.)

  4. Carine you and Pascal are amazing! Great website…you are so multi talented! Look forward to hearing more about Pascal’s journey.

  5. JP says:

    Indiana Jones he is. were there piranas and giant soldier ants? Did he come back with the full indian initiation story complete with body piercing and shamanic experience? tell us more…..

  6. maman Mireille says:

    Congratulations!
    Keep traveling, and enjoy new discoveries.
    Good luck

  7. Marie-Alice says:

    Great stories! Nigel and I wish you success in your new venture.

  8. Karen says:

    Well, I know what you mean about roughing it.. and then there’s ROUGHING it. Personally I am such a city girl that when I drove cross country, by myself, I took zanax in the long stretches of dessert..yes I am scared of the desert and to many open spaces. So isolated. So, I totally get it and I’m sure you made the correct decision. But what an adventure, for both of you even though you were only there in spirit.. I’m impressed. Going to “any lenghts” for your business. Wow! xoxoK

  9. Itzel Williams says:

    Nice cliffhanger! This is great Carine. I look forward to reading more of your stories. This one reminds me of Greg in a butterfly reserve in Costa Rica afraid of the monkeys spying on us as we jumped in the river. Greg is totally a city person. I’ll join Pascal:) as his Spanish translator…wait…do they even speak Spanish there?

  10. mayra joli says:

    My Dear, the jagua fruit is found in the dominican republic as well. It is an exquisite fruit. Try going there and have a great time while at it. The DR in case you have not been there, is a lot of fun!

  11. Hey Carine! I’m so glad you created the blog. It has a great feeling of beauty and sacred community.

    Thank you SO MUCH for the Jagua…. I did a piece on the top of my hand that ended up having a Moroccan feel, and people are freaking (positively) about it!

    I look forward to working with Jagua more…and doing some two-tone work with Jagua and Henna.

    Bliss….
    Deatria.

  12. Catwoman says:

    Carine, I am with you on the aversion to roughing it. I think I deserve a little bit of luxe once in a while. It doesn’t have to be a five-star hotel, but a shower, a beach, good food for non-meat-eaters, a bed…those have become part of my criteria for travel. My niece is about to go to Europe doing the Youth Hostel thing, they don’t call them “Youth” for nothing…

  13. Louise Goldstein says:

    Carine,

    Great article on “lipstick.” Very clever and oh so true. I am a fan of yours on HuffPost so I get your articles upon publication.

    Kudos on your new book!

    Happy Holiday Season, doll.

    Lu
    xoxo

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