The day of the dogs.
It’s funny how in Brazil, just a bit of morning fitness can turn into a near death experience. Yet high on a mountain in the back country of Rio de Janeiro, I nearly met my fate…. Three times.
After walking 3 miles to the base of what this Louisiana would only call a mountain, the “fun” commenced. Climbing up the winding cobblestone road carved out of the thick juggle, we struggled 4 miles upward, the humidity so high I could see my own breath. Scaling past animal sacrifices and statues of a local god, I conquered the mountain… Or so I though.
Running down had not even crossed my mind as an option… I mean, I just ran up a mountain! What more could they want. But after a 3 minute rest, the downward sprint began… And my jello legs where about to be replenished with adrenaline.
Halfway down, exhausted, in pain, wanting nothing more to stop (yes I am a soccer player, yes I hate running.) is when the dogs came.
Rising out of the jungle like hounds from hell, they came. Skin hugging their ribs, glazed eyes, they were at their full animal nature, trying/needing to survive. I unfortunately appeared to be their next meal….
Limao, my Brazilian friend and savior, jumped in front momentarily. Fending of the dogs before an all out sprint commenced…. 50 feet, the hounds kept at us, 100 feet, limão was faster than me and it was official me versus the damn dogs. 200 feet and they were on my heels. I thank god for the stamina he gave. 400 yards later, I was still gassing it, with no dogs in sight.
I had overcome the wildlife of Brazil, and bent over struggling to breath, I heard a car swerving around the nearby corner. Jumping back I dodged the car, and put myself on a ledge over a 50 foot water fall… Balancing on one leg, I managed to regain balance, and my life. And so for a second time in 5 minutes, I thanked God.
But now my legs were useless. I mean, I couldn’t have jumped over a penny, I was lugging around two cement posts. And that’s when the other dogs came.
More. Damn. Dogs. I could’ve cried and I considered trying a little hand to paw combat, before my fight or flight response kicked in….
2 minutes later I was near the bottom of the mountain, and had developed a permanent fear of the stray dogs of Brazil.
So by the end of the mountain this cool cat and wasted 3 lives… And probably need a new pair of pants or pair of legs.
And so began my third week in Brazil… Seeing death really can change your life.