CAMINO DE LOS VAGABUNDOS
Updated: Feb 6, 2019
A trek about on some wild and newfound trails.
October 18, 2018
Coco and I went on a nice evening trail run. After discovering a secret, wooded game trail we decided it would be a fantastic change from the more exposed public trails. We’ve got it all to ourselves and can go racing along its paths full speed. We do have to be careful, as I’ve seen traces of human activity littered about in the woods. Some of it looks to be recent, but mostly its old, discarded rubbish. I think homeless might hide out in these parts and I am also certain it's a hide out for raccoons.
And today, Coco finally got one. After many failed attempts, I came to see just what would happen if he ever did get to clamp down on one of those elusive, wild critters he spends so much time stalking. On one of our first excursions through this new trail, I had seen a a pair of juvenile raccoons rummaging in some of that discarded trash. I got Coco to lay down just in time as these curious little nitwits come wobbling their way up to us. Well, he vividly remembers this moment and was hot to trot back towards the spot we'd seen them at. I kept a close hand on him and there were no juvies to be found anyway. So far...
as I was having my moment of discernment, Coco had already had his...
We found that the trail, which was a dirt lane used for vehicles going to and from the canal pumps, continued on into the woods. This time we followed it in. We kept the pace up, running at a pretty good clip. Coco likes to dart off ahead so he can launch into the thickets and come crashing back out just as I'd catch up. He was hot on some scents and I could hear some rustling in the foliage as well. There was sure to be an encounter.
With the sun now below the horizon, and us in the thickets like we were, I was having a hard time getting my eyes to focus. Just as we'd slowed to catch our breath, I'd seen two rounded shapes in the path up ahead. It could have been a stump or some loose foliage, but I was pretty sure it was two raccoons out foraging.
As I was having my moment of discernment, Coco had already had his and bolted the fifty feet towards it. In a matter of seconds he scrambled onto the one animal like a rugby player would dive for a loose ball. Caught it mid-slide, snatches it up in his mouth and started rag-dolling the thing, shaking his head from one side to the other. I got there quick as I could and he dropped it from his toothy hold. It crawled its way into the brush, slow and steady. They always do a sneering look over their shoulder, as if to say, you haven’t seen the last of me.
I think the critter was alright. I quick inspected Coco for any wounds and there was no blood or scratches. He sat panting staring at the brush, wishing he had his catch. I shined my light into the animal's crawl space and it continued to move with all appendages functioning. It probably had some smarting pain, I’d imagine, but would live to tell the others about it.
Without any delay, we heeled it around as fast as we could and ran back out the way we came in
We continued on and a rustle was heard just a few steps past our last stoppage. I hit the brakes and Coco dove into the thickets again, but I knew it was the other raccoon and it had already gone up a tree. I'd seen it there with its arms clenched around the jagged sides of a Sabal palm and gave it no attention so the pooch wouldn't be any the wiser. Another twenty steps further and we slam on the brakes again!! This time it was for me.
There, jutting out from around the bend of the trail was the tail end of a dark, older van parked right in the middle of the path. Without any delay, we heeled it around as fast as we could and ran back out the way we came in through the pine flatwoods. No followers were trailing us so we moseyed back up the canal path noting the wind. Tonight was when the winds were supposed to pick up, and they were happening already. With the clearing made for the canal, it gave a good avenue for the wind to pick up speed and make its way to our faces. It felt so good that I held my arms out and let it touch every square inch of me.
We got back to the main trail and then jumped through the dense para grass into the adjacent parking lot where we disappear and reappear from. I can only imagine someone's surprise if they're there unsuspecting and see two wild beings emerge from the tall bushes.
It was nighttime now and we were slow strolling back up the street. Passing by the K9 hotel, a young gal was walking to her car parked along the grass. I made a move so not to look like I was going straight for her and she paused, looked at me and looked at the pooch trailing along behind. She waited for us to go by with one foot perched in her car. She said hello to me and laughed at the tongue-hanging pooch that clip-clopped past her, who gave her a slight hello as well.
Back in the neighborhood, I stopped below a street light to pluck out all the various grass stickers. The hardest ones to get out are the sharp, spikey balls that come from the hard grasses that line the edge of the canal bank. They are tough to untwine from his long, course hair, but I go slow and he allows me to work. I pick out a few from my shoes as well. I'm sure we'll find more later, but its time for us to eat and retire.
I’m looking forward to spending more time on these trails. They are great to run on and hope maybe I can get back down and explore the one without the perp van.
As info, inside a 25L tactical grab bag, I carry 2L of water, binos, bird ID book, ESSE fixed blade military knife, pentax waterproof camera, small flashlight and trash bags.
DISCLAIMER: I do not condone the acts of Coco terrorizing wildlife. On the other hand, I do not scold him for being true to his canine form. Part of me rejoices that he has not lost a connection to his roots. The other part, recognizes we are visitors to these woods and I move to correct the behavior. We grow from this point of mutual understanding.
Coco was only eight weeks into being a life form on this planet when he found himself seeking shelter on the streets of Bahia de Caraquez during a 7.8m earthquake. It was in that aftermath he found himself cradled in my arms. He was then and still to this day, un perro de calle. A dog of the streets. His roots are what define him and I try to preserve that unique characteristic. As his caretaker, I of course seek to do my part not to have harm inflicted upon him or other things, as that's the form I took.
I remember during a yagé ceremony in Colombia, a visiting Taita from Mexico was noticing the dogs roaming around our circle of gatherers (Coco y Negro in particular). He looked at those peculiar forms, unlike the dogs you see in the pet stores and likened himself to that of a perro de calle as well. He said he was a stray in that sense of being rough around the edges, different from the other more contemporary inhabitants, but also found himself connected to the community of estranged animals that were without proper homes. It was in those streets that he found his world. Found his story and became the man that he was, a curandero (healer).
To read the full story click below...
August 23, 2016 — Accounting for a very special and vivid ceremony in Quindio, Colombia.
Who are the wild ones in this story? Is it the homeless ones with nowhere else to go but out into the woods? Or is it the ones who are racing through it with the wind in their hair? What about the ones left behind in their cars? Locked to those congested streets, inching their way towards a place that seems like home, but only in a dull, covered up sense of the word.
When I am in the face of something wild, I feel most alive, most connected and the most innate, palpable definition of that word: home. My home is in the wilds of this planet! Upon the coarsest of coasts and the most barbarous of brushes, I find myself traveling through a cosmos way beyond comprehension. I would want nothing short of the full experience for myself. And in this resolve, I continually seek to go deeper. Further into the blue and green realms that reveal life is full of many forms, many surprising mysteries and many more adventures to come.