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Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999

Subject: Ecuador Dogs

Dear All,

We’ve been in Ecuador for 2 months now & whilst it’s a wonderful country we both preferred Colombia. As Richard says ´the coffee was better here! ´. The truth be told, whilst we haven’t had any bad experiences ourselves (yet!), we’ve heard of tons of stories of robberies & assaults. On our 3rd day in the country 2 girls who were staying in the same place as us were robbed & raped. Colombia - for all it’s bad press seems to have a far safer record - and almost every tourist we met there couldn’t understand why so many people fear visiting the country (that’s you Dr Love!) in Colombia.

However the dogs here are something else. Richard’s now caught up with my record of 3 bites. I now recall with fury that the BA clinic in London was adamant that I didn’t need a rabies jab when I visited them insisting that cycling in Latin American countries was a real hazard regarding dog bites. Of course I think in reality, detecting the rabies symptom in Richard would be pretty evident as he’s pretty laid back most of the time. Regarding me it’s a different matter as many people have implied over my lifetime that I act half rabid at the best of times!

It seems that every Ecuadorian has at least one dog. In the cities they’re locked up in small gardens (if they’re lucky!), in the countryside they’re mostly kept on long leashes. None of the poor creatures ever seem to be taken for walks. In the rural areas they run free in order that they can protect the cows, goats & llamas etc – but none are trained & totally ignore their owners as they chase us snarling down the roads. The morning we entered Ecuador we met a cyclist who had just changed his tyre having had a dog rip a great hole in his previous one. I sympathised with him a few weeks later when having had an exhausting day climbing a 4200m pass on a foul dirt road, my chain having broken 7 times (Richard’s too 3 times), having fallen off my bike & injured my knee & then cycling through the cloud forest for 5 miles (this means you can’t see sod all - yep it’s all cloud surprisingly enough!). Just as the rain started I got attacked by 2 dogs - 1 of which grabbed my back tyre & pulled me off the bike.

I went nuts trying for the 1st time to actually hit them with the rocks lying around. Normally I just chuck a few rocks in the general direction without the intent to hit - just scare off but that day I’d had enough! There is a legend that says when Pedro de Candia entered Tumbes (Peru), the elders unleashed in his path a lion & tiger kept for the King Huaina Capac. Instead of tearing him to pieces they curled at his feet & allowed him to stroke their heads. Consequently the elders mistook him for the son of the sun god & greeted him with hospitality. Ecclesiastes ix 4 states that ´a living dog is better than a dead lion´. Needless to say we feel bound to disagree!

At the moment we’re in Baños & have treated ourselves to some thermal hot baths. These are the 1st hot baths (actually the only bath!) we’ve had since entering Latin America (with the exception of those we had back in London when we returned). The only off-putting thing was the local’s habit of spitting & blowing their noses into the pools!

Ciao for Now

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Stani & Richard

Next Newsletter:  Ecuador Part II 23 Feb 1999

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