Sunday, 15 November 2015

Man's Best Fiend.

"But what dogs are not for is the barbaric, disgusting, cruel, vicious, evil of putting them on somebody's plate in the most horrible way". MP Rob Flello, commenting in a parliamentary debate, requesting that Her Majesty's ambassador to China should convey the UK's abhorrent disgust with reference to a lychee and dog meat festival.
You've got to love our political masters. Every so often they've just got to offer up another serving of cultural imperialism. Maybe the good member from the 'mother of parliaments' would care to cycle the descent into Ayacucho with me.
We've got to lose 1,000 metres of elevation, and if the kilometre posts are the to be believed, there's only 10kms to do it in. The calculation and the conclusion is simple, it's going to be steep. The road clings to a hillside that has a tendency for 'quake slippage. The asphalt is puckered and contorted into waves and cracks. Tramlines of impending doom. It's a surface that requires stealth and respect.
10 kph: taking it carefully, when from out of a ditch surge two barking dogs.
15 kph: try to outrun them; all that achieves is to increase the vexation of the bark.
20 kph: I've shed one attacker, but the terrier type still wishes to nip my ankle.
25 kph: decision time. Do I let the bike have its head and see if the whirling stumpy legs will explode? However, there's a pothole approaching with an interesting possibility of attaining some good air.
30 kph: How can it bark with such venom and run at the same time, all at 14,000 ft? Guess it's better acclimatised than I am.
? kph: darn't check the speed, but would happily consider ordering 'deep fried bitch with a side of lychee'.
Peruvian dogs come in three forms. A fourth possibility exists, but is only a suggestion, evidenced by the sale of "pet dog" food.
First the pack dogs: a mongrelised mix of indiscriminate genes that roam and scavenge, entirely independent of humans. On Challá beach I had watched their behaviour, as if viewing an Attenborough film. The alpha male chastising the the over-exuberant puppy. Pack hunting guinea pigs in the scrub. Their threat to cyclists is low. They seem to treat man as an unnecessary appendage to their world.
Next, there's the 'peaje' dog. Singular, silent and solitary. 'Peajes' are the road-toll stations, places that attract traders and street food sellers. That food generally comes with bones, be they llama, cow or hen. Either way something is going to be jettisoned out of a window. Hence those solitary dogs, who've staked their own linear patch of verge side. On that first encounter with these solitary souls, it was vaguely disquieting, so used had we become by the attack from behind. Sitting on haunches, expectant yet undemanding. It was also interesting to speculate on the ancestral progenitor, for every dog had that most powerful of canine gene - the Border Collie white collar, shield and tipped tail. There's a dignity to these animals, they never beg, unlike the mooching mutts around an Argentine eatery. They will eat any and everything; last night's visitor to our tent even finished off the banana skins, then carefully peeled the chocolate wrapper to clean off the meagre scrapings inside. Their threat level seams minimal to a cyclist, if you ignore their potential inoculation of fleas. Unlike the 'psychotic property protector'.
Be that farm, shack or alpaca herd. They have an fanatical attachment to place, and an all-consuming hatred for the bicycle (or is it the gringo cyclist?). There's a stone corral high up on the hillside and from out of its shadow explodes a raging speck that very quickly grows in anger and recruits further back-up. A berserker high on hysteria, Cerebus and his cousins: The Hounds of Hades converge on us.
Two hours into the first day's cycling out of Lima, a black mutt unleashes from out of a tyre repair yard and manages to remove the bungee cord from the Navigator's pannier. Better that than a calf puncture wound. Yet, it's hard to know just how much of this canine angst is bluster and how much is real threat. The greater danger is losing bike control and crashing.
These are not your pampered pooches, your inbred societal appendages. So I have to apologise to the Honourable Member for Stoke-on-Trent (South), but when one of these feral Furies is a jaw length from my ankle, the wok seems a good solution.
As to whether our Honourable Members voted on castigating the 'heathenish chinks' and their barbaric tastes, I don't know. However I do look forward to a report that the Indian Government have debated and voted to request that the 'imperialist Brits' desist from the barbaric, disgusting, cruel, vicious and evil act of putting cow on somebody's plate.