Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Dogs Life in Colombia

Colombia has so many colors, which was one aspect of the place that overwhelmed me. The other was the absolute kindness of the people there that was magical in a way I have not experience when traveling south of the border. In particular, it was how the Colombians treated street dogs that I found to be a good indicator of the kind of people that filled the country of Colombia.

The pain of my own dog having passed was still pretty fresh for me, so seeing dogs everywhere was a bit strange. In Nicaragua dogs were thin and hungry, as is also true in Guatemala, and other parts of Latin America I have been in. Here, however, all the street dogs I ran into looked healthy and hearty which seemed a bit strange. Then I got to see people interacting with the dogs.

My guide Hector had a dog come up to him in Finlandia and he reached down and just began rubbing the little shepherd behind her ears. She sat down and allowed herself to be fawned over by Hector, who rubbed her belly and said nice things to her. The dog rolled over with her tongue lolling out of her mouth, easily pleased.

As we walked up and down the streets the new dog followed us into various shops, being a sweet companion on our walk. Other dogs laid in shop doors or followed other tourists and travelers around, and each dog was met with the same sweet treatment. Hector asked if we wanted a snack and took us over to a little cart bar selling empanadas. Hector bought one for me and one for the dog, who sat down happily and ate the meat filled pastry. Then waited a few more moments for Hector to buy us both ice cream.

After the ice cream she finally sat down, contented, and allowed us to go on our way while other people came over and resumed the rubs and pets and general care of her and others. There is something so powerful about a people who is willing to treat all the animals on the street as if they are family pets. It was a very powerful feeling to see how the animals were treated and perhaps the thing that made me think the most about the prospect of moving to Colombia someday.

The dogs stayed in Finlandia and we drove on towards Salento, where we met new dogs, got some street coffee and mulled wine, and watched as the moon rose high over the Andes all with time to get me back to the airport for my hop skip from Pereira back to Bogota and finally all the way back to Chicago, the home I had barely just moved into but was also a place I was happy to call home once again.

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