Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cat TV, A Triad Of Hyper Adolescents And A Giant Evil Clown Head Sprouts From The Pavement.

This is a roof cat. I think it's actually some one's cat that just hangs out on the rooftops and not an actual terrifying, squalling wild beast that makes American feral cats look like cuddly kittens. Hair splitting aside,  this is a random cat on the roof of the clinic.

There is actually a cat body. It's not just a dismembered head. 

And these are clinic dogs enjoying the highlight of their day:

Come down and talk to us, kitty. We just want to meet you

I had just fed everyone the Anti-Atkins-Fatten-Street-Dogs-Diet of huge amounts of rice with organ meat so this was a freakin' red letter day for them. Dinner and a movie. If you're having trouble putting this together, I give you the long shot:

Don't do it roof kitty. You have so much to live for.

They love them some Cat TV. There is actually a cat who lives here who belongs to the caretaker, a deadpan black and white cat with a wide face named, disingenuously, Gata. Gata hangs out behind the gate on the staircase where she spends most of her time engaged in an endless staring contest with Blanca, a lanky white sight hound mix.

We could be friends. Or I could, you know, just chew on you a bit.

Cat staring is a huge thing at Casa Lupita. Usually street dogs are pretty blase about cats so I put this obsession down to the fact that of the five dogs now residing there, three are teenagers. And we all know what assholes teenagers are.

Blanca practices counter terrorism. 

First there is Blanca, the most energetic and outgoing of the three of them. She's the first to greet you but also the first to steal anything she can get her mouth around. With all of the Teens, I have no idea where they came from. They were brought in from different people with injuries and illnesses as well as personable temperaments that make them ill suited to a life of Street Doggery. It's difficult to avoid kicks and poisoning when you're as friendly and outgoing as a car salesman.

Canela practices pathetic skinniness. 

Less outgoing but more playful is Canela. Canela will cringe the first few times you try to touch her but when she gets confident she's a party animal. She's the only one of all the dogs that has some idea of what actual play looks like and will attempt it frequently. This is very disconcerting to the other teens who are all down with the occasional zoomie but find her joie de vivre a little frightening.

Can I have my head back now?

The dark horse in the group is the skinniest teen, a bony shepherd mix that the caretaker calls Blacko. Blacko is all cool with me and the whole organ meat and rice thing but keeps her distance. She doesn't skitter away from me if I pat her but she gives me this tentative look that lets me know she'd really prefer I didn't. Or that I'd at least buy her a few more dinners before I'd try anything else.

Who doesn't enjoy a good boiled liver? 

There's also Rufino, a dog with a bad leg that took a machete whacking and keeps on ticking. He's my favorite dog here. The last resident is an impossibly old dog from the lake called Viejo (it means old, shockingly). Viejo seems a bit batty - I don't know how well he sees or hears - but happy enough. He stands under the tree in the yard and wags his tail at it slowly. Perhaps he's senile or maybe he's picking up signals from Planet Ancient Dog. I don't know. There's a rumor that he belongs to someone at the lake that wants him back. Someone had to have cared for him for him to live long enough to be this oblivious. He likes organ meat and palm trees, I know that.

Again, more on that later.

On the Big Freakin' Scary-Ass Puppet front, I'm NOT pleased to announce Armageddon is coming and it's made of goddamn made of paper-mache. If you've been following this at all - and really, everyone SHOULD follow the Big Freakin' Scary-Ass Puppet saga - the whole situation has totally crapped the bed. Remember how I said I'm scared of puppets and clowns and the across the street neighbors made gigantic evil puppets and leave bits of them in the street? Look - LOOK - at what was outside my shower this evening:

It's a goddamn puppet clown head. And it's the size of a sedan.

Buy your bottled water, people. The end is near.

I think I might be afraid of my shower window now. I'm going to turn around and see that thing peering through the window at me.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Toilet Terror, The Nameless Cat Army, The Corpses of Terrifying Giant Puppets and A New Batch of Canine Castoffs.

Rafi and Chinga welcome me to Granada with the stink eye.
Nicaragua smells like burning tires, wet grass and lavender Fabulosa. All together - as if you made some sort of hellish smoothie of melted rubber, grass clippings and cloying ammonia cleanser. The whole country. I think it might be my favorite smell in the world.

There are only a few things that need to be said about the journey here:

1) People fight like beasts on Christmas Eve. Particularly in airports. I watched any number of awesome relationship meltdowns. Including a woman in a business suit screaming into a cell phone "I never want to talk to you again, asshole!". Stay classy, LA. FYI - after spending six hours in LAX I can tell you that it is, in fact, true that people from Southern California are more attractive than the rest of us. Even when they're berating their spouses and screaming at their children. Feliz Navidad, SoCal!

2) Panama City has a fucking Dunkin' Donuts. I cannot get a corn muffin in San Jose but the Panama City airport has them. It was not open when I was there but I could watch them putting the corn muffins in the little rack through the locked gate. My flight left at 8:40 AM and Dunkin Donuts opened at 9 AM. Screw you, Panama. Your airport is an overpriced shopping mall.
Up yours, Panama. 

3) All fifteen plus pounds of flea control made it through customs just fine. Apparently on Christmas all Nicaraguans return home bearing ginormous amounts of luggage and a million obnoxious backpackers descend on the country smelling like weed. Between those two groups and my long sleeved shirt (no visible tattoos - check. Brown hair - check!) I snuck through customs without having to even open my bags, let alone flash the World Vets letter.*

Thus I emerged from the airport bleary eyed and dazed. For some reason Copa does not allow people to sleep on it's red eyes - every two hours I would get shaken awake and offered a beverage or a tray of flat, unrecognizable food. Managua airport seems to have paved the runway a bit better but Costena still has the same plane - it was parked on the runway covered in the same old bondo but resplendent in a new paint job. Priorities, people. I'm so glad I don't have to get on that damn thing again.

Outside the usual crush of taxi drivers and family reunions was taking place and then there was that smell, that wonderful, awesome, only-Nicaragua smell that made me want to lean down and lick the pavement. Someone needs to make a Nicaragua-scented air-freshener for people like me. Preferably the same people who make the Toilet Terror deodorizer so I can stop explaining to Americans that there really is a product called 'Toilet Terror' in Central America and it's not something for your GI tract.

Let's feed the cats before they overthrow us.
 I am standing there, sweating buckets in my California-weather-appropriate jeans and sweatshirt and looking for The Blue Beast, Donna's monster Toyota truck that I've spent so much time riding in the back of when I see her, sans vehicle, walking towards me on the pavement. There is a hug, a declaration that she has to piss and that there is a 'new' truck over across the street and then we're hauling my enormous, bootleg flea-control stuffed bag over the sidewalk and into the truck. And then we're  passing Pharaoh's, the crappy casino I always use as a landmark for the road home to Granada, and we're on our way back.

If I haven't told you how much I love Donna's house: I love Donna's place. I love the murals on the outside walls, love the crush of her pets that form a caterwauling, staring horde when they hear the front gate creak open, love the guest place in back where I can spy on the neighbors while I shower. Donna herself has new beasts. There are a bunch of new cats, the remnants of abandoned litters she found homes for. Rafael, a silly, low riding clown of a basset mix that was machete-d but now looks worse from a bad hair cut than from than the scars. Don Vito, an ancient one eyed medium black dog who just squeezed through the gate one day, helped himself to food in the kitchen and never left. Xena, a gentle, laid back Shepherd mix who I've known forever. Now older, she occasionally nips at the cats if they screw with her and growls at Rafael. And Chinga (don't look up what that means in Spanish) a bossy, tail-less old lady who yodels psychotically whenever Donna leaves her sight.

New mural on Casa del Donna. 
Some of the cats, fixed and flea treated, don't have names so I set to naming them. Donna might be the only person in the world who appreciates my names. Bitchy Cat, a sweet calico that beats holy hell out of the other cats. Uno, one of a trio of orange cats who turned up on her porch, is the only friendly orange. The other two I name Dos and Dos y Media because they're so damn skittish they're not even like having two separate cats.

Terrifying 20 ft puppet killed by karaoke.
More difficult to love? The art warehouse across the street that makes enormous fucking creepy puppets and has now started a karaoke lounge. Scattered in the road are the detritus of fifteen foot heads and crumpled bodies. At night a man sings Celine Dion in Spanish with wavering vibrato through what has to be largest amplifier in freakin' Nicaragua while Donna screams 'Shut the fuck up, you assholes!'.

Okay, I lied. I actually dig that. At home noise drives me nuts. Here, not so much. Nicaragua is the loudest country in the world. Unencumbered by adequate mufflers, motorcycles shriek by. Car horns are employed constantly and with joyful abandon. The advertisement trucks circle blaring 'Gallo Mas Gallo'** ads for electronics on a thirty second loop. People yell in the streets and five hundred stereos compete for attention. Roosters crow and dogs bark and everything is so hopelessly, vitally, alive and kicking.

There is a new truck, a  new set of sarna dogs - five in total living at the clinic and a whole shit-ton of new developments. More on that later.

*Big old wonkin' thank you to Berger for the WorldVets letter.
** Gallo Mas Gallo is a chain of electronics stores down here. Translate the name. Hours of mirth ensue. 

Donna feeding Casa Lupita's Class of 2014.