Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Antigua, Guatemala: Mean-Dog Street

Mean-Dog Street, Antigua, Guatemala.

The street looks so pretty, so tranquil. It is, except for the two mean dogs.

I like to walk different routes to and from Spanish classes each day. My preference is the quiet streets.

On the way home the other day, I turned into this street. I calculated it would take me to Chipilapas, then I'd turn right and be in front of my little neighborhood's entrance.

I duly noted the barking dog behind a wall, a vigilant guard of someone's property. I observed the dog lying on the street, to my left, as I approached and then passed. I wasn't perturbed; the dogs in Antigua are a good-natured lot, polite, unassuming.

But then the lying-down dog got up and started to bark at me. Which put me in mind of the unpredictable dogs of Caucasus Georgia and Ethiopia, where dogs can be menacing and will bite.

But no worries, I thought, I'll just keep going on my way, mind my own business, and the dog will settle down once he realizes I've got no desire to encroach on his territory. ..............

Except. Oh. It appears this is a dead-end street. Well, I'll keep walking just in case there's an alley at the end that I can use for a happy egress. 


So I've got to retrace my path, go by the dog again. I look for some rocks and a stick. None. Can you believe it? A town literally covered with cobblestones, yet not a single loose stone that would fit into my hand?

And now the dog is barking that special snarl-bark combo, approaching me. 

I refuse eye contact and periodically say "Vaya!" without looking sideways or looking back as I pass. I imagine the dog taking a chunk out of my calf. I wonder about rabies. I keep on walking.

Whew. I reach the main street. Safe. 

When I described my experience to my Spanish teacher the next day, she pointed out that my belt could have served as a weapon, if needed, both as a signal to the dog and as a self-defense tool. Yes - good to remember.

That brought us to the topic of rabies. In Antigua, it's an annual custom for animal control folks to visit the neighborhoods and offer free, on-the-spot rabies shots for the dogs and cats. Sounds like a good system.

Below is a calaveras, generally associated with the Day of the Dead, about a mean dog. A calaveras is a satirical poem with a double meaning:

The neighbor’s dog has chased me home,
Every day this Autumn.
I run away when I’m all alone,
So it doesn’t bite my bottom.
Go ahead little dog and gnash your teeth,
But some day you will be buried beneath.

El perro del vecino me ha perseguido a la casa,
Todos los días del otoño.
Yo corro lejos cuando estoy solo,
Para que él no me muerda el trasero.
Adelante pues perrito y rechina tus dientes,
Pero algún día tú vas a ser enterrado abajo.


Possible author: José Guadalupe Posada

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