Throughout the course of their service many volunteers adopt a pet for the companionship they provide. Although I had never really owned a pet before, I have always considered myself more of a dog person and had been thinking about getting a dog for awhile and possibly a chicken. “Rubia” the white dog that lives behind my house gave birth to four puppies and I thought about taking in one of them, but within a few weeks all four had died. Around this same time I noticed a rat occasionally scrambling out of my kitchen when I would enter at night. After a few encounters, the final straw came as I was cooking and put down my sopita (chicken bullion cube) on the kitchen table. When I came back for it later it was gone. I couldn’t figure out where I had put it, and just knew that it was not where I had left it. Sure enough, I look under the stove and see the half eaten stolen sopita.
Tiguere, a Dominican derivation of the word “tigre” (or tiger) is used sort of like one might use the word “gangsta” in English. If you do something clever, you might be referred to as a tiguere, but at the same time the word is most often used to describe young “delinquent” males on the prowl. Licey, my Dominican baseball team of choice, also uses the Tigre/Tiguere (as I have sometimes seen it written on what I can only assume is bootleg apparel) as its mascot. Having read the book “The Tiger” (a true story about a man-eating/hunting tiger in Eastern Russia) I was ready for Tiguere to come in and tear some rats apart. Instead I got a kitten who after first guessing correctly in the litter box (a converted paint roller basin with a fly swatter as a sifter/scoop) proceeded to make my house his oyster dumping wherever he pleased and choosing my dirty clothes over his bed to sleep in.
After suspecting he had fleas and seeing a lesion develop on his forehead I took him into the vet in the capital yesterday to get checked out and get his vaccinations. He was fine in his little cardboard box for most of the walk, but once we got on the guagua it was a different story. The combination of the noise, confined space with packed in people (our row, as all Dominican buses do sat 5 people across in a space that in the USA would fit 3 and have an aisle), and the bumpy stop and go of the ride set him into a fit. The fact that it is a few days away from election day and PRD supporters were out preemptively celebrating in the streets only added to a scene which would’ve been equally chaotic for any person who hadn’t been through such a rally before let alone a kitten leaving the block it was born on for the first time. Scrambling to get out of his box, I held him in my lap as I heard that the body heat will sometimes calm them down. I felt him warm up in my lap and initially calm down, purring instead of yelping. As his warmth in my lap began to spread, I lifted him up and realized that the warming in my lap was him urinating all over me.
Eventually, thanks in large part to our doctor Lisette’s helpfulness, he saw the vet and weighed in at a hefty 0.8lbs (Lisette estimated another .2 of those lbs are probably parasites). He was given medication to kill parasites (which I now have to inject orally for the next 3 days – super fun today trying to make that happen) and a cream for what could be ringworm on his head. On our walk back we saw a man driving a motorcycle with his feet. Back at the PC office Lisette gave him some food to eat out of a stool sample cup and soon we were on our way.
After a not so quick stop to try to get internet (the store’s internet was down where I was buying my router – I’m sure a sign of my great signal strength to come) and a stop across the street with the cat for Chinese food we got on the most crowded guagua of my life. For the first time in all of my 9 months of guagua riding, I wondered whether the strange smell on the guagua was me and not the weird looking guy squished partially on to my lap. As people complained of the bus being full, the cobrador paid them no attention, dancing dembow at a every stop and hanging out of the bus door as there was literally no room left inside for him to fit. I had seen other cobradors hang outside the door (both when there was enough space and when there wasn’t) but this time as we neared a parked truck on the side of the road where the cobrador was hanging out, the cobrador was forced to abandon his post and jump off the bus at the last second before he would’ve collided with the parked truck. The cobrador was fine as he landed on his feet, sprinted around the truck, and caught back up to the bus as the driver slowed down noticing he was missing. Disaster avoided and back just in time for my Construye meeting, it was a long and eventful day.
P.S. I promise I won’t be one of those people constantly posting pics of and talking about their pet