Growing up in cities as I did, my experience with wild animals – you know, cows, horses, pigs and the like – was somewhat limited. What I did learn came mostly from observing road kill. It wasn’t until I was ten that I figured out wild animals were usually three-dimensional. Biking through the rural areas around here and even in the grand national parks out west have convinced me that very few small mammals die of old age; rather they end up as dark spots on highways. There is this observation that sums it up pretty well, I think: the chicken crossed the road to prove to the possum (and raccoon) that it COULD be done.
Of course now, what with all of the experience that comes to someone of my advanced age, I am more knowledgeable about fauna in general and, as it turns out, acquainted with a few species on a rather more intimate basis. Specifically, warthogs and cows. As you might guess, close encounters with warthogs, such as the one documented in the picture below, happened during my visits to Uganda. What I learned from these meetings is that, considering I am still here with all of my limbs, warthogs are even dumber than I am.
One of my Ugandan warthog friends
It is much more likely that I will have a run-in with a cow, living in the Dairy State as I do. Recall the story of an encounter on County Road X during a ride a few years ago, which I entitled, Shall We Dance? So you would think, with this experience, that my meeting with the cows in the mountains of the Dominican Republic would have been pretty much a non-event. And if that’s what you’d think, I’m afraid you’d be wrong. Honestly, I’d like to keep this story under wraps. But, in the interest of open disclosure, here it is...
Early on Sunday morning I had gone down to Gracesqui and Ramona’s house at the camp. Because Ramona always had a pot of coffee ready and, for me, a really big cup.
Looking down on Gracesqui and Ramona's house at the camp
Ramona has coffee on the stove!
Don Rafael enjoys a cup, too.
Church services wouldn’t be until after noon, so there was no rush, but as the morning wore on, I began to wonder where Carmen was. She had the large building all to herself and Jeff commented that he thought there was a chance that the door could be locked from the outside. I went up to investigate.
It turns out that Carmen just took advantage of the chance to sleep in; she was up and not locked in, so I turned to head back down to the house. And that’s when I saw them, standing right in the gate I had just come through. Two large cows (they looked large to me, anyway) with a calf trailing behind. They were just standing there. Blocking the gate. Looking at me. I looked back, then took a couple of steps towards them, making what I considered to be a shoo-cow noise. They just looked at me.
This could be a problem...
So, what would they do if I tried to squeeze by them? Rather than find out, I picked up a small pebble and tossed it against one of their flanks. I’m surprised the cow even felt it, but this display of my superior intelligence - and firepower - did result in their turning around and ambling back down the hill. I followed them. At a safe distance, of course.
We had only gone a few yards when one of the young boys who always seemed to be around came up and starting shouting at the cows and waving his arms, causing them to turn around and head back towards the gate. I was pretty impressed that they understood Spanish and that this young boy held such sway over them. They moved sheepishly back up the hill and through the gate. Where they were, apparently, expected to go in the morning.
I’m not proud of the incident and I am sure there are two cows and one young boy in the Dominican Republic who even now are having a chuckle at my expense. But I figured I’d tell the story before they had a chance to and perhaps put my actions in a poorer light than I deserve. If that were possible.