Stories

El Negro

Yesterday’s journey could have ended in blood, with some luck for everyone it didn’t. I went down the Espino climb mid morning with the idea of stopping by at Combarbalá and then continue northwards to Monte Patria. At the beginning the route was a gravel road but I was just a few kilometers away from the pavement. It took me just a couple of hours to reach Combarbalá but the feeling of the little town didn’t appeal me so I just kept on.

At noon I was in Cogotí and the heat was seriously strong. I had little water and my body was pledging for sugar. I decided to stop at a small local store next to the road to ask for water and buy me some sugary drink. A personal coke is enough to help with the sugar issue and raise up the spirit. So far the tendency of the road was downhill with small uphills from time to time, but the heat, oh my man the heat was strong. It seemed I was coming down from the high mountains as I hadn’t experienced the same temperatures back in El Espino, itmade sense, I was going down towards the valleys.

I left Cogotí with no thirst and with plenty of sugar in my body. Right outside of the village I faced a considerable uphill. Still I could see the summit of the slope, it would be just some minutes, I thought. The sweating never stopped, the heat was really hitting hard at that time of the day. A bend showed up, to the right some goats trying to eat the little grass that could be seen on the ground. At the end of the bend a railway cross. That old railway that was used back in 1915, unused since who knows when. To the left a hawthorn tree with three dogs under its shadow. Another bend and the gradient of slope got harder, harder but not impossible.

Dogs have an issue with bicycles. The three dogs resting under the hawthorn stopped their rest and started barking at me. One of the three, El Negro (the black one), ran madly barking towards the bike.

After so many kilometers on the bike I have learned that you don’t run away from dogs. Something in their instinct makes them chase the moving prey. What do they chase from the bicycle?, I really don’t know. In their mind’s imaginarium I think they believe that one over the bicycle is an animal worth of catching, maybe they think the bicycle is a horse. Running away is futile. With so much weight over the bike doing a sprint will end with a bite on the leg. That’s not funny and I would end up rushing it to the nearest hospital to get the rabies vaccination.

The partners of El Negro went barking their way home, across the road and uphill from where I was. El Negro, well, El Negro was a combat dog. Despite I completely stopped his intentions didn’t change at all. He kept barking at me. He started threatening me with his fangs and getting closer and closer. El Negro was rabid. Maybe he liked to fight. From the distance his brothers kept with the barking behind the fence of their home. El Negro was almost next to me. Black dog, Why are you doing this to me?, I asked him.

El Negro was a warrior. You could tell by the scars on his body. One of his legs had a still open wound getting infected and trying to dry with the sun. Obviously nobody would take him to the vet or help him with minor aids. Country side dog. Hard dog. Brave dog. Stupid dog. I didn’t have much choices. I had to accept his fight. “GET OUT SHITHEAD!” I yelled and threatened him with the bicycle. It didn’t work. El Negro got closer, a jump and would bite me with his fangs. Not being able to let the bike go I was running out of options. The slope would drag the bicycle backwards and I wasn’t that stable. El Negro would bite me in any moment. I thought about my knife.

The knife is always at reach in the front pannier. Not with a fighting purpose but with a practical one. Almost every time I stop I use it, it makes no sense to keep it stored inside the side panniers. There is always this romantic idea of using it for self defense, but that’s nothing more than a hollywood romanticism that little applies to reality. The romanticism got broken by reality and El Negro was already trying to come at me. I didn’t grab the knife, although I felt like it. I showed him my knuckles. I turned into an animal. As feral cat I showed him also my teeth. Finally, El Negro attacked.

I have memory of only one dog seriously attacking me. That time he did it with no warning, in silence. I realized last minute what was coming at me and managed to completely stop before the attack. I yelled at the dog and showed him my fists ready to jump over him if he didn’t stop. Lucky me the dog stopped instantly and turned around and ran away. El Negro, he jumped towards me to bite. The good thing of not being scared is that you can think and react well in these circumstances. I hit him right in the head before he could bite me. This taught a lesson to El Negro which turned around and went back home barking and crying. I got an adrenaline shot after that gave me shivers. With this I ended the match. The owner of El Negro showed up to see who was producing such a spectacle. El Negro and his brothers kept the party up from behind the fence. They didn’t stop barking and El Negro recovered his strenght.

With all the dogs behind the fence I resumed my biking. It is extremely rare that dogs that are protecting their territory leave it to attack. Also the owner was yelling at the dogs to shut up. I kept going uphill, at a speed of 5 kms/h I passed by the fence where the dogs were. El Negro, oh man, El Negro. He left his territory. His owner started swearing at him. I was not keen to this game anymore, this time I grabbed my weapon. Not my knife though, but the stick I carry to park the bicycle. “I’ll hit you with this one you fool!” I threatened him.

They say human’s don’t learn from history, I think neither does El Negro. Maybe because of the barking of his brothers, or because of vengeance he came at me again. He earned a single and straight hit on his head that sounded hollow. It hurt him I could notice. Crying and not barking anymore he went back to his home. His owner was running towards him, also with a huge stick in hand and swearing pretty badly.

I mounted my bike again and started to push on. Stick in hand I waved to the owner of El Negro. He replied and kept with the chasing of the poor lad. El Negro ran around as if he knew he had fucked it up. With no more to do I stopped to put my weapon at its place and kept with the road. I’m glad I never took my knife out, otherwise I would have regretted the end of this show.

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