Tofino Profile: Baku
by Shirley Langer, Tofino
Baku is a self-proclaimed hermit, an elusive man, but not entirely inaccessible. His name, for instance. All I can learn is people started calling him Baku when he was twelve. His real name? Only his lawyer and accountant know. It has taken me considerable time to convince Baku that people would be interested in knowing about half the publishing team of Tofino Time, the other half being the more visible Adam Buskard. Baku was/is concerned that people will think he is being self-serving. Like myself, I think you will be fascinated by this man.
African Beach, Baku's b&b, reflects a significant part of Baku's history. African art and artifacts are common throughout the house because he was born in Namibia, Africa, a country on the coast, immediately north/ west of South Africa. His father left East Germany before the Berlin wall went up, immigrating to Africa where he became a cattle farmer, married and fathered a son. Baku was two when the family returned to Germany, to Frankfurt, where Baku spent the next twenty-two years.
How many conscientious objectors have you met, people with the courage of their convictions to refuse to participate in the national military system? Meet Baku. All German youth had to serve a period in the military under conscription. When Baku said he wouldn't, there were hearings, like court, in which he had to prove the sincerity of his convictions. If the hearing accepts the plea of conscientious objection, the objector is required to do community service for the equivalent time of conscripted military service. Baku did meals on wheels with charitable groups for eighteen months, then enrolled in Biology at university.
But biology was not to be Baku's career. He was hired as part of a crew that managed lighting for ever-changing shows at a concert hall and convention center, and found he loved it. In 1986, a month after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, many months following his initial application to emigrate, Baku landed in Canada, in Vancouver. "For the first time in weeks, I ate vegetables," he recounts, "because all crops in Europe were contaminated."
1986, the year of Expo. Baku's first work in Vancouver was in lighting, changing over shows, then graphic design, along the way fathering Beni, his first son. Beni was three months old when Baku became a full time house father--"the best years of my life" says Baku. Baku's devotion to his sons, nineteen year-old Beni and fourteen year-old Max, is evident and touching. Separated in marriage when Beni was seven, Baku's first vocation is raising his sons, who have almost over-taken Baku in height. A gentle, soft-spoken man, Baku is nevertheless a loyal and fierce parent, fierce in his convictions about kids needs and kids rights. Lucky boys, I say.
Stressed and burnt out after twelve years of living in "the burbs", Baku moved to Tofino. "I used to come to Tofino when I was feeling down and depressed," he explains, "and I still love Tofino as much today as I did then." Within weeks of moving, he had more social interaction than possible in the burbs, despite being hermit-like. He confesses he likes pretending he's a tourist because he enjoys the anonymity. Though Baku doesn't go out much, he enjoys people and the scene when he does.
His association with Adam is fortuitous. Adam is the front man, the guy who must interact with people. Baku's job is behind-the-scenes in production. They produced the first issue of Tofino Time four years ago, paying the whole shot themselves in order to demonstrate what the magazine would look like. Baku remembers Adam appearing at the house all excited. "We have a hit on our hands!"
Baku feels very fortunate because of the response of community in providing articles and columns that have made the magazine notable and interesting. Did you know that Tofino Time may be read on-line too? Everyday, 1000-1500 people visit the web site. I'm curious to know if Baku gets fan mail. "Mostly requests for information," he replies. The most common question he's asked is the obvious--'What's there to do in Tofino?' The most bizarre? 'Where can I find a shaman to perform a pagan beach wedding?'
When Baku wants to relax, he gardens, and his garden is extensive, being both on land and water. His greatest fondness is for Japanese Maples and varieties of water lilies. The lilies grace a beautiful pond replete with goldfish. Many nights he is out gardening in the dark, and marvels that his plants seem to thrive despite his blind pruning methods.
A total night person, he is occasionally still up when it's time to prepare breakfast for his guests.
Baku's long-range plans encompass a year in Italy, in Siena specifically. Like myself, Baku is an Italophile, loving all things Italian. In addition to gardening, Baku likes to cook--Italian, of course-- which he learned in cooking classes in high school. I ask permission to tour his kitchen, where I find a huge collection of English terracotta ware prominently stating henry watson pottery. Seems Baku started collecting the pottery when he was a mere twelve years old. He points out a particular teapot. 'Ideal for use at home or on safari,' it states on the front. Very British, not the least Italian.
I leave with an armload of plants, knowing more about this very tall, very peaceful man, but with the feeling that like icebergs, there is much more beneath the surface that I have no inkling about.
Shirley Langer describes herself as a woman about town with a well developed civic consciousness.