Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It's a Dog-Eat-Dog World

Literally, as the picture to the left shows. There's a foul-smelling, polluted creek in my neighborhood here in Larapa, on the outskirts of Cuzco, Peru, that wends its way through construction sites and residential zones, and along the highway. Each kilometer it becomes dirtier and dirtier, its water cloudy with what looks like laundry detergent but what smells like human and animal effluvia (a bit like the bathrooms in several of the hostels I've stayed at--particularly in Central America). Plastic bags litter its banks, looking from a distance like festive multicolored streamers, but up close not nearly as pretty. If one looks closely among the trash (while holding one's breath, of course), other shapes emerge on the river's banks--such as this decaying dog corpse I found the other day, just the right thing for an afternoon treat for two other dogs passing by.

Further on, another dead dog lay in the water, protected from being feasted on by its compatriots by the flowing water. As awful as it is to see a dead animal--particularly man's best friend--in a waterway so near where people live, it's better, I guess, than the thousands of plastic bags that are visible. At least the dog will decompose within a month or two; the plastic bags will be around for years.

But why all the dead dogs? you ask. Well, they seem to make a good metaphor for my last month here in Cuzco. As I've posted earlier, I've run into money problems down here. Cuzco's a great city to visit, if you've got money to go out and drink, eat, and see the sights. But if, like me, you've exhausted your savings, it can be tremendously boring. I've been mostly staying inside, combing the Internet for freelance work, checking my bank account hourly (isn't the balance supposed to grow from interest?), losing even more hair from worry. It's been a dog of a time. (Hey, I had the pictures and I had to make the metaphor!)

But I am happy to report that my finances have taken a turn for the better, and I should be heading out of here next week. I'll be heading on to Bolivia, just in time for Morales' recall referendum in August. I've got some other pictures of Cuzco that I'll be posting in the next day or two (and an account of a particularly traumatic day in which I was attacked by dogs not once but twice!), so stay tuned. And my apologies to all of you who have been wondering if I am still alive.

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