Unexpectedly comes actually always
Even though we did not travel very far in the last months of our travel life, a lot has happened. Many sad things, but also as much beautiful things. Therefore we are reporting today with big news. Admittedly: it is not that big, if you take it exactly. But awesome!
But before we get there, we start at our way across huge Mexico. We are in the middle of the Corona summer as we ride from Oaxaca – the place where we had isolated ourselves for the last three months – to Puerto Vallarta – our new temporary home.
When a tank comes flying…
In order to get from A to B as contact-free as possible, we make as few stops as necessary over the 1800 kilometers. Nothing special happens until dear uncle death sends us a greeting again. He does this regularly, but this time he was especially creative: he sends us an empty water tank.
Its safety rope has come loose, which causes it to roll off the loading area of an oncoming pickup truck. Unpredictably it flies down the hill – straight towards us.
A water tank as an end enemy – Moe and I can only shake our heads in disbelief. If we had been just a little bit faster, the thing would have cleared us out of the way like little cones. Luckily, everyone involved only got off with a big scare. It is so incredibly weird that tears roll down my cheeks from laughter. Well, dear death, not today. But: what the hell, Mexico? What the hell!
Four paws and a wet snout
Then we reach Puerto Vallarta, which will be our home for the next months. Vallarta is a popular vacation destination for US-Americans, a party stronghold for the LGBTQ-community and as tropical-hot as we have experienced in very few other places. Probably we would never have landed here – but as you know, this year is not going as we had imagined for any of us.
The reasons that lead us here usually have four paws, some fur and a wet snout. In search of how we can spend the coming months in Mexico, Moe found a project for street dogs. LADRA rescues stray, abandoned or abused animals that often need medical support. All dogs are cared for, vaccinated and sterilized by the organization before a suitable home is found for them.
Of course, he didn’t have to convince me that it was a very good idea: We have plenty of exercise in the fresh air, we can continue to reduce contacts and make ourselves useful on site. And yes, there are also dogs. Many, many dogs.
It is probably no secret that dogs do have a tough time in Mexico. Quite a few of them have to live on the streets and feed themselves from the garbage. But also dogs that have owners have sometimes very miserable lives here. The realization that dogs also have needs and are not just a cheap alarm system has apparently not yet reached everyone. I had already suspected that there are some sad fates. Nevertheless, I could not have imagined the cruelties that were done to the four-legged friends here in my wildest dreams.
There are dogs that have been hit by cars and left to die on the side of the road. Dogs that have been chained up all their lives and abused by humans. Puppies, which were thrown on the garbage for dying. Pets that were doused with hot oil. Or their eyes were torn out. Or that have never seen daylight. And dogs that have been fed with drugs (for me personally the most shocking story, because of the lifelong need for physical care that this dog has as a result).
The worst thing is that all this has been done to them by humans. No wonder that some of the dogs are severely traumatized. The big miracle is that – despite all these experiences – they are all still willing to trust, love and protect people. Yes, there is much that we can learn from the furry pals.
Not all dogs are the same
Well, – who would have thought it – even dogs are complex animals with different characters and feelings that need to be understood. Coming from the street or from captivity, many dogs that end up at LADRA lack a normal socialization. We have no experience in the education of dogs, but we soon realize that there are probably some parallels to the education of children: There are many things that can be done wrong, but there is also no one golden way. And what may work for one may be different for the next.
What is nice about LADRA is that – if possible – all dogs and humans live together day and night. No dog is locked away, as we know it from animal shelters. In the morning and in the evening we take all dogs for a walk, take them to the vet and give them lots of cuddles.
That sounds nice, but is sometimes also quite demanding. Not only that so many dogs in a pile do not always get along well (Moe will forever be reminded by his scars). Also walks can sometimes turn into a challenge in Mexico. All the garbage on the streets, which we have to pull out of the dogs’ mouths again and again, the other free-running dogs, some of which are very aggressive, or even other owners, who don’t have their dogs under control, sometimes break my nerves. In addition, more and more dogs get abandoned because of the difficult economic situation. With almost 60 dogs, the organization is far over its capacity and that although only the worst cases are taken in. Nearly every daily we have to explain to the people that we cannot take in more dogs (or even cats).
To support the organization beyond that, we are setting up a completely new website with texts and pictures for them. In short: We don’t have much time to think about the rest of the world and its problems during this time.
A new family member
“Under no circumstances will we adopt a dog, because it doesn’t fit our lifestyle” – this is what we had agreed on before we came to LADRA. But the problem was that we did not know the little Teddy at that time…
We spontaneously choose Teddy because he is the smallest. “Let’s put him in the tank bag”, Moe suggests. To our surprise, Teddy feels quite comfortable in it and looks happy in the photo. We start wondering if he would still feel like this when the engine is running. Many dogs are afraid of loud noises – and especially motorcycles – but Teddy doesn’t mind that at all. Therefore we dare – just for fun – to try and ride with him, very slowly and only once around the block. Eventually, the little bear becomes our constant companion and we take him on the bike every now and then – each time a little further and faster. The other volunteers start to make their jokes and ask us occasionally if we would take Teddy with us forever. Until Moe finally answers with a “maybe”.
That’s when I know: the fun could actually become serious. It is obvious that the dog likes to keep his head in the wind and to be taken to new places. But the fact that Moe has now actually fallen in love with the brave little guy really surprises me. After all, Moe was always the one who had generally been in favor of cats. But as we all know, there is nothing you can do when the most powerful force in the universe strikes. Every person who has a dog will know exactly how we feel.
Is that possible?
But before we adopt Teddy, we talk to others who have experience with this. A dog on the road – that sounds like thousands of additional challenges! And I should have mentioned here already once or twice that a trip on a motorcycle is not always easy anyway. But the more we talk to others, the more realistic the whole thing becomes. Sure, it certainly won’t get any easier. But hasn’t travelling proved to us often enough that there is a solution for everything – really everything – if you stay calm and flexible?
A certain fear still remains that Teddy might not like the travel life. It is important to us not to go on an ego trip here. We do not want to force an unhappy life on a dog just because we both like the idea. If we take the responsibility for the little guy, it is clear that we have to arrange our trip according to his needs. Yes, in case of doubt even abort the trip if we realize that it does not work out. But Brischa, the founder of LADRA, encourages us and is sure that Teddy will be fine as long as he can be with us.
So after a total of five months with LADRA, we dare to take the little guy on a new, adventurous life. Teddy is the best thing that happened to us in this lousy year. When, where and if we will be able to travel outside of Mexico is still written in the stars. But one thing is clear: nowhere without Teddy!