Making new friends in Puerto Madryn, Argentina

The story I am about to tell did not happen at sea, but, as travelling by sea made it possible, I would very much like to include it in the same area. In May 2012, I signed on HS Liszt – together with my husband – for a four month voyage in the South Atlantic Ocean, covering an area between Uruguay and Argentina. This voyage brought out some of the most amazing encounters of my life and revealed to me the beauty of nature as I had never witnessed before. During our long stays in the small port of San Antonio Este, we got quite ‘friendly’ with a colony of sea lions living on the beach, during a whole week of anchorage in the proximity of the same port we took part in the greatest fishing parties of our lives (you can read the story here) and a little more South, in the UNESCO heritage protected area of Valdes Peninsula, we witnessed and admired the everyday life routine of hundreds of right whales coming in the Golfo Nuevo to mate and breed.

In Puerto Madryn  – the port situated inside Golfo Nuevo – after spending many hours following the whales along the pier or alongside our vessel, after taking hundreds of photos from close up or from 2-3 meter distance to these huge mammals, we took the time and ran into the city for a few hours every time our ship arrived into the area.

During a three month period, we called Puerto Madryn 6 times, covering the months of June, July and August. Summer in Europe means winter in the South Atlantic, but with temperatures of 14-15° during the day, we found our sunny hours to enjoy outside and got to know the city very well.

The story about my magnificent encounter begins now. It does not include any sea animals, no birds either, but two stray dogs we met on the streets of Puerto Madryn.

It was a beautiful afternoon in June and we were wandering around the streets of the city, in search of a certain shop from where to buy some things for the ship. At some point, two brown dogs approached us and started to wag their tails looking very happy to see our faces. A little shy at the beginning, the dogs became more and more confident and, after sniffing and sniffing for a few minutes, they decided to accompany us for the rest of our walk. The thing might have looked a little curious – at least for the people passing by – and, while we were wondering about their intentions, the dogs seemed like they were having a lot of fun acting as our protectors and continued to do their job with strong determination. We started to ask ourselves if they had not mistaken us for somebody else but the dogs behaved like we were their masters and they were our loyal guardians.

We continued our walk from one shop to another for at least two hours with the dogs keeping very close to us, waiting for us every time we entered some shop and ready to move on every time we started to move. Many people on the street looked at us in admiration, some of them even asked about their names, but we didn’t have any answer to give back because we knew nothing about these beautiful creatures. We only knew what we could see – that they were two stray dogs of an unfamiliar breed, one male and one female, both very clean and well behaved. We started to get attached to them and even started to enjoy this strange behaviour, but time was flying so fast and we had to go back to the ship. We offered them a small farewell gift – a piece of chocolate, which only one of them really enjoyed – and we climbed in the first taxi available and started our journey towards the port. The moment we entered the car, our friends burst ot barking loudly and fiercely, jumping around us, touching the doors with their paws and looking so desperate that I started to cry myself. I didn’t understand what was happening, the taxi driver asked us if they were our dogs and he got really amazed when he found out that we had just met them few hours before. The car started to move slowly towards the centre of the intersection and the dogs continued to bark and jump around it until the light of the traffic light turned green and the car increased its speed. From that second, the dogs seemed out of control. They looked like somebody had released them for an unseen leash and they were free to put their skills to a test.  We could only watched them through the window and admire their commitment. I was getting myself a little worried for their safety because they were running very close to the car or on the pavement from the right side of the road, crossing over the intersections at the same speed as our car was doing and showing no sign of giving up. From time to time, their long tongues were hanging out of their mouths and I could sense a slight sign of tiredness and disappointment in their faces. After we passed 2-3 intersections and the streets became more and more crowded, we lost them or, better said, they lost us and we continued our ride in complete silence, thinking about the strange encounter and the meaning of it.

We couldn’t stop thinking about this incident for the following days and the next time we arrived in town – after two weeks – we looked for them on every street of the centre, hoping to see them again. Our search was in vain and our spare time was also very short. So we went back to the ship and we gave up thinking about them for the next week or so.

But, our ship came again in Puerto Madryn at the middle of July and we went out in the city for a short walk and for some shopping as well.

Only few minutes after we left our taxi and started the walk around the city centre we had the biggest surprise of our lives. The two faithful friends came out of nowhere and stuck to us like glue for the next two hours. They had some collars around their neck proving the fact that they were stray dogs in search of some adoptive parents and were looking even more beautiful as I could remember. They followed us everywhere, getting as close as they could and touching us continuously with their moving tails. When we stopped, they stopped, when we walked they walked, becoming our shadows. When we were entering inside one shop, they were waiting for us outside – one of them lying still on the pavement, while the other one was taking the safe guard position in the middle of the door with its face towards the interior, never losing us from its sight.

IMG_8556

IMG_8562

Moving from one shop to another, crossing the streets and the intersections, we became the most popular attraction of the city as more and more people came to speak with us about the dogs, patting their heads with affectionate care and taking photos of the funny assembly – two white people, tourists for sure, walking the streets of the city accompanied by two stray dogs.

The image must have been quite overwhelming for the onlookers, but it was completely devastating for me. Lots of questions started to come out of my head, but I couldn’t find the answer to most of them: ‘Is it really possible that these two creatures really recognized us after more than one month?’ ‘What do they see in us and why did they choose us?’  ‘Do they want to send us a message we do not understand?’ ‘Is it possible they really know us from before? Another life maybe?’

I really couldn’t make any sense of it no matter how hard I tried. The dogs behaved like they knew us very well and looked like they were willing to accompany us forever and wherever we might go. Meeting new people in the street did not distract them a bit, they enjoyed the patting and the caressing but, when we made the first attempt of leaving the scene, they were up in their feet ready to follow.

The scenario repeated itself over and over again making us wonder again about what would happen when we finally had to leave them. If we were closer to home, we would have taken them with us in a second. We did this occasionally with stray cats and puppies we found abandoned in the streets of our home town and we didn’t need any sign of affection from their side before we decided to ‘rescue’ them and offered them a home. But, with these special creatures we couldn’t do the same. Our home was few thousands kilometers away and with the very strict regulations inside the ports we couldn’t even bring them on the ship. The only thing we could do was to leave them and never come back.

And we really did it. The final farewell followed the same footsteps as the previous one. We gave them the pieces of chocolate, one of them eating both portions and we said our ‘goodbyes’ with tears in our eyes and a great sadness in our hearts. What followed was even more amazing than the previous departure.

The dogs put on the same show of barking, howling and crying in despair as if they were about to lose their best friends. They started running close to our car, following from one side or the other, losing us from time to time because we were gaining speed, but finding us again at the next traffic light. All I could do was watching them through the window, getting sad when I didn’t see them for a few seconds and always hoping they would appear unexpectedly. I felt like I had to support and encourage two runners in the Olympic Games and I was praying for their victory. I knew everything was in vain and nothing good would come out of it as I was sure the story didn’t have a happy ending. My tears were falling down my cheeks as we were getting farther and farther from the city centre and I knew our friends would have to let us go eventually. And the end came in after few minutes when the street started to climb up an easy slope and the dogs just couldn’t keep up anymore. They stopped in the middle of the road, following us with their eyes until we disappeared completely in the crowded street.

The taxi driver and our two companions – with whom we were sharing the cab – didn’t know what to believe and they got really amazed by this strange display of affection and by the perseverance of the poor animals. We didn’t know how to explain the strong connection we felt with these two dogs and we spent the following days asking ourselves all kind of questions. It is true that the dogs were looking for some adoptive parents, but it is incredible how they chose to show their love towards two strange people in a city where thousands of people were walking in the streets. Why us?

This question has been following me since then and I am still puzzled. I am sorry I couldn’t understand their message. I am sorry I couldn’t do more than just a little patting and caressing. I only wish I would have the chance of seeing them again and I hope to be better prepared and do more next time.

Two years have passed since I encountered them on the streets of Puerto Madryn. I hope they found their adoptive parents and I hope they will bring as much joy and love to their new masters as they brought to us in the few hours we spent together.

One Response to Making new friends in Puerto Madryn, Argentina

  1. costica anonimul says:

    friends in Galesu;Portocala,Hacico and….CANTOR

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.