Chuchos

Michael Wilson


October 15, 2009

m-wilson-4I had a pretty exciting encounter with a chucho today. A chucho is a wild dog. So as I was panicking that I couldn’t find my phone, I walked down the street to Zuleika’s house (one of the other fellows who happens to be staying with my host mother’s sister, or something like that). I needed to find my phone because I was worried I had gotten pick pocketed on the Chicken bus. As you know from my last post, this would be very easy place to get pick pocketed on the chicken bus, because there’s obviously a lot of other things you’re thinking about, like not falling out the open door… or putting your butt in some stranger’s face by accident. You know, like the usual stuff people worry about on their daily commute.

So anyway, I’m in a kind of frantic state, to say the least, and I’m walking briskly down the street to Zuleika’s house consciously thinking about how cold it was and how its not supposed to be cold in Guatemala, and unconsciously thinking about how I could have possibly lost my phone.

As I got near her house, this dog about the size of a small lab came running at me growling fiercely as though it was protecting its house. Of course, Zuleika’s host family doesn’t have a dog, they only have about 30 chickens and 10 turkeys in their front yard. This dog was vicious too, all growling and baring its teeth and all.

This scared the daylights after me because I actually thought it was about to jump and bite me, and it was acting ridiculous, so I wasn’t sure if it was rabid or not. I wasn’t sure if it was better to run and try to make it to jump on the large cherry picker that Zuleika’s host father keeps in his front yard (don’t ask me why, I don’t know the word for cherry picker in Spanish, or I would ask…) or if it was better to take a good solid kick at it’s side.

Well instead of deciding one or the other, I just kind of stood there hoping the dog would like stop running at me or something. Cause you know that’s what all mad wild chuchos do when they’re about to attack someone.

Well. At the last minute I remembered back to our training when Luis was giving us an overview of Guatemalan greetings and we somehow got to talking about wild dogs. He actually warned us that wild dog would be everywhere. At the last minute I remembered an offhand comment he had made about the dogs then.

So I did something I honestly never thought I would do, I raised my hand up to my ear, like I’m about to throw a huge rock at the chucho. I felt like a cruel person to throw a rock at a dog (so, I didn’t really have a rock but whatever).

But it didn’t matter because instantly the dog melted. Like slicing through butter with a hot knife. Or some expression like that. You have to bear with me cause my English is getting worse as my Spanish improves.

Seriously though it was like some super large intimidating person was standing behind me with a huge cleaver.

I guess its not too scary given all the new experiences I’ve been through recently, but it was pretty scary at the time. To tell you the truth I spent the first day scared of the chuchos, but then I realized they were harmless (or most of them were harmless I guess) and that they just wanted food.

Let me tell you something about chuchos. Chucho is the Guatemalan slang word for street Mutt. They are all over Guatemala, and they all look EXACTLY the same. They are all slightly smaller than a lab, have pointy ears that stick out to the side, and are all a slightly more yellow color than the typical golden retriever. But with short dry fur.

And they are absolutely everywhere. For example. When we stopped to eat lunch on our way down an 8000 foot volcano, 1000 feet or so of which was barren volcanic rock, 3 chuchos came up to us to beg for food. 3 On top of a volcano. I tell you they are everywhere. And they are very persuasive. They do their whole cute dog thing, and lay up against you trying to be nice and cute but in reality giving you a whole host of fleas.

Michael Wilson