I have a routine, but that’s not to say there is plenty of variance within it. Almost every day is entirely different even if it is always subsistence first. The nights are even stranger. I received rat glue from one of my training managers after I told them of my problems with rats, mice and cockroaches running around and keeping me from sleeping. You’d be surprised how much noise can be created by just a couple of rodents scurrying around a paper floor when everything else is silent. Rat glue turned out to be a poor mitigation strategy; I’m not sure a single rat or mouse has stepped inside my glue circle, even with the prospect of a scrumptiously delicious fish head and spine inside. My solution has been to sleep with earplugs, a suggestion I got from a friend just before leaving America. Works like a charm. Listening to my own heart beat and breathing pattern puts me to sleep quickly, and I put the earplugs in lightly enough that they fall out sometime when I’m asleep so as not to actually disturb my hearing if I actually need it.
Most nights I don’t need it, but sometimes I do. My neighborhood can be an eery place at night. Once the sun goes down around 730pm most activity dies down, with people congregating around their fires before eventually heading inside. By 10pm there is almost no one outside, and I’ve been told that under no circumstances should I be outside by myself after 11pm. Not only are the nights the deepest shade of black, they’re also frighteningly quiet. The only thing that ever breaks the silence of the night is the barking dogs of Coronation Field.
All of them are an indistinguishable breed of mutt that looks the same with almost no diversity… but they’re still cute. And the names are hysterical. My family has two dogs named Supacop and Scorpion. A friend of mine has two named Freaky and Goofy. Anything is fair game for a dog’s name here. But they are all a sad bunch. It is rare to see a dog without an open wound on its ears. Cuts received through dog fights are rarely allowed to heal, with giant fruit flies constantly picking away at any exposed flesh keeping it from healing. I’ve already had to wrap up one of my feet because of this very reason. Dogs are all too often terribly malnourished, receiving little more than the bones and burnt rice of what is an already malnourished society.
The way I’ve seen dogs treated in this country sometimes disturbs me. A sleeping dog is readily kicked, a walking dog stoned for no reason, and I’ve seen a crying puppy picked up by a paw. And yet dogs being the amazing creatures they are, are still loyal to a fault here. Take for example my family’s dog, Supacop. He’s one of the few dogs that looks healthy. Slim but not too skinny, with a beautiful golden coat, no open wounds, and no fleas. He’s a great guard dog and deserves his naps, but if he’s underfoot for any of my family members he’ll get a swift kick to the ribs. Supacop already loves me, possibly the most of anyone. Partly for what I do- pet him, and what I don’t- kick him.
A few days ago I dropped off my backpack after training and quickly changed to go play basketball with a few friends. I said hi to my family, gave Supacop a single pet, and left. Fifty yards away from the house I turned around to see him following me and tried to shoo him back. He refused. For the entire ten minute walk to he stayed by my side, while I played basketball he sat with my friends, and when I sat for a rest, he napped between my legs. It was so adorable I could have cried.
After we finished I walked a friend home to a different neighborhood and Supacop was ambushed by five territorial dogs. He’s a hell of a thirty pound guard dog but five-to-one suits nobody. He stayed right next to me, facing outward trying to protect me though he was clearly the target. Having come from a culture, and household, where 100lb+ bear-hugging dogs are the norm I ended up being the guard man for Supacop, scaring the 30 to 40lb aggressors away. A couple of neighbors who came out to witness the commotion commended me on my bravery, and I laughed; both at that dogs and at the compliment, telling them that in America dogs get almost as big and mean as me. They laughed in return, scoffing at the ridiculous idea that dogs could be so large. Supacop made it home unscathed, and I think he owes my best yet training pal Bergen a good thanks.