I live in the small community of Pinar De La Venta, perched on the edge of the Primavera Forest on the western fringes of the Guadalajara metropolitan area.
When I first arrived here the community consisted of many houses, with only 25 families living in them full-time. Why so few people?
In 1985 there were no street lights here, no telephone service, no TV reception, and, of course, no internet. Generation Alpha might find it too hard to imagine: solitude and silence broken only by occasional tweets – the kind produced by birds, I must clarify. Then, at night, you could walk the cobblestone streets in near total darkness lit only by the stars and the moon, serenaded by chirping crickets, croaking frogs, whispering pines and the occasional flap of a bat’s wing.
Contrast that with the night sounds in this same community in 2020: The barking, growling, yelping, woofing, whining, snarling, yipping, snapping and howling of 800 dogs, not all at once, mind you, but haphazardly awakening you throughout the night, all the way from dusk to dawn ... and beyond, of course.
When you have that many dogs, you naturally have plenty of escapees. These roam the streets by day and by night scaring the bejesus out of anyone undertaking such a foolish proposition as going for a walk.
I made that mistake one day when I decided to take our parrot Tatu for a stroll in a big meadow across the street. Tatu rode on my head atop a sombrero, alerting me to the presence of anis seeds in the grass far beneath him: one of his favorite treats. Suddenly I heard the barking, yelping, woofing etcetera of canines owned by a young woman taking her pack of dogs for a walk, none of them on a leash of course.