Hi, I’m Carmelo … one of Mexico’s “Disappeared”

Hi! My name is Carmelo. Down on the beach in Bucerias, Mexico I am remembered as one of “The Disappeared.”

In another life I was a sand-spitting stud-in-training. At eight months I was already a pro scrounging quesadilla scraps from fawning gringos. I had a future as a beach bum basking in the 30 degree heat. Everyone acknowledged I was already barking way above my weight … five pounds if you must ask.

Sure there were challenges. The evil widow who ran the beach bar I called home never fed me. (We called her La Bruja Negra.) My drinking bowl was a bucket full of soapy water. The witch’s grandkids thought I was a soccer ball and the delivery trucks thought I was target practice.

But, it was hot. It was sunny. The surf was cool and wet. Best of all, I could dig holes in the sand and not get my ass booted for it. Not knowing any better … I figured I had it pretty good.

Then came the gringos from Canada. They’re all the same. They call themselves snowbirds, but most are way too fat to fly. They all think they have an ex-patriotic duty to cuddle and liberate the first scrawny Mexi-mutt they encounter.

It was just a matter of time before my number was called.

Only a week earlier my first cousin, Chico, befriended some gringos and the next day he was gone. He’d joined The Disappeared. We had no clue where he went. This is pretty scary stuff … one minute you’re sucking up for table scraps and the next you’re in a crate and shipping out.

In my case, I was betrayed by Manuel, one of the bar’s beach boys who I thought was a friend. He told the gringos the old lady would sell me for a thousand pesos. They were having this conversation while I’m standing right there. Like I don’t even get it.

I immediately start sucking up to the Bruja Negra and her evil little rug rat grandkids and soon they are all crying at the prospect of losing me. Jeez, the old broad didn’t even shed a tear when her husband kicked the bucket. I have won round one. The sale is cancelled and I am free to roam the beach.

But, as the days pass the old woman keeps looking at me kinda weird and I know all she sees is a useless mutt worth 1,000 pesos. That’s her beach bar profit for a week. I’m done for.

Sure enough, the gringos are back flashing their bankroll and I’m done like dinner. A noose is fitted over my big floppy ears and I’m dragged up the road.

First stop … the vet. No one mentioned a vet. I would have made a bid for freedom had I known this was going to be the first portal on my terrifying journey.

The vet speaks no gringo and the gringos speak no Spanish, but they seem to be on the same page where I am concerned. The gringo resorts to sign language. His points at my nicely developing cojones and makes a snipping gesture with his scissor-like fingers. The vet understands: “Si senior … ochenta pesos por favor.” Jesus, this is my future we’re bartering down the drain. Life as I know it is over.

When I wake up, I hurt like hell and I am consumed by an overwhelming sense of social indifference. One thing is clear … I can never show my face on the beach again.

Next thing I know I’m in a small padded cell and on my way to the airport. The customs agent doesn’t even want to see my travel papers. I’m just one less Mexican headache heading into exile.

The next six hours is a blur. I’m trapped under a seat. No food, no water, no hope. Then Canada customs looms. My last chance to make my case. Nothing. No questions about rabies, ring worm or flees. The uniform doesn’t even want to see my papers. I might as well be a stuffed toy.

Now my very bad day is getting even worse. As I am frog-marched out of the airport and into the unknown, a bone chilling draft sweeps through my padded cell. In a few minutes I’m shaking so bad I’ve forgotten how bad I have to pee.

By the time I get to my new home I am thoroughly frozen and pissed off. So, I do what any red-blooded mutt would do in my paws … I take a big dump on the gringos’ warm, dry carpet. My punishment is five minutes alone in the cold back yard where white stuff is falling from the sky and the grass crunches everywhere I walk. Boy, these guys fight dirty.

Well, that was some time ago and I gotta say things did improve quickly. My gringos are obsessed with feeding me … salmon flavoured kibbles all day long, milk bones and chicken strips whenever I beg, denta-stix to brighten my teeth at bed time, and an endless supply of water that doesn’t taste like soap. Who knew?

And, just in case I forget my good fortune, every new gringo I meet says how lucky I am to have been rescued. Being one of The Disappeared is a mixed blessing I tell them between mouthfuls of salmon kibble.


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