This morning I thought I’d ride my bike over to the pueblo and look for my friend Vincente and his horse, Hijo. When I first found this horse, he was tied off to a lamp post in the middle of the soccer field in town. It was tragic and beautiful and a little bit funny to see this horse just standing out there next to the goal posts. Listen. It’s Mexico. I can’t get all worked up about a lonely horse or a bunch of stray dogs. We’d be here all day. I have loved many and saved a few. In these parts, animals seem to be scattered around like loose trash. Some have homes. Some don’t. It’s hard to tell with most of them. Of course, I want to pick them all up.
As I was finishing my coffee and packing up to go find Hijo, a woman approached the breakfast table flashing a flyer covered with photos of rescued dogs. “They are out in the jungle,” she said to me when I asked where these dogs actually were. “Out in the jungle? Like, just out there? Are they with anyone?” Something in my chest tugged and my trigger finger started twitching on my camera strap. “They are just out there. There’s a guy who feeds them. But they are mostly alone. If you see one you like, just take it.” And that’s when, at my insistence, she gave Marina and I directions to a place several miles deep into the jungle, down a narrow dirt road, through puddles that were more like overflowing cenotes from the previous days rains, to find these jungle dogs.
“Just keep going,” she said, “until you hear them.”
Ask me how hard it was to leave those familiar brown eyes and that sweet black snout behind in the jungle. A couple of the dogs died this week from snake bites. Dogs really shouldn’t live deep in the jungle, nor should most people, but for the most part, these dogs have it better than most people despite what it might seem at first glance. They are lovingly cared for, some for years, by a few folks from away, with all their shots and medications and plenty of food and fresh water and clean kennels. These same good people are trying hard to build a new shelter, outside the jungle, and will arrange free transportation to the US or Canada for any one of these dogs. Just say the word.
I never found the horse. I asked around and nobody had seen him. I’ll try again mañana. Sometimes, they tell me, he’s over in the school yard.
Every day is like this. We wake up, we have coffee, and then something that could only happen here, happens. I’m pretty sure Marina and I could ride our beach cruiser bikes with their flat tires and bad chains and their missing peddles and their falling off baskets just about anywhere and never get enough of this place. Ever.
For Asher, Lukey, Rusty, Rosie, Posie, Putney Sue, Peluchîn, Petey and Clyde. With love, you lucky dogs.