Filing Cabinet of the Damned

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Awesome Majesty of Nature

My wife and I recently returned from a visit to her family in El Paso. The city, on the far western tip of Texas, borders the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

Chihuahua is a mountainous desert region, perhaps best known for the creatures that give the state its name. Huge packs of wild tiny dogs rumble across its arroyos and plains, yipping with their oversized heads, pitter-patting along dried streambeds and around cacti, feeding upon the kibble bushes (known in Spanish as los arbols del purina y alpo) that flourish in the harsh clime.

Despite an advantageous position along the border and keen eyes, we did not spy a single wild Chihuahua; nary a single goony-headed micro-canis skittered past our view. When next we visit, I will insist that we cross the border and hunt down a pack of these canines, Nature's Bobbleheads. Stampedes of wild Chihuahuas, blackening the hills with their vast numbers, are reputed to be one of nature's most awesome spectacles, on a par with the Angel Falls of Venezuela. Life is brief; we must not deprive ourselves of such wonders.

The best location to spot them is reputed to be to the south of Ciudad Juarez, where local campesinos set elaborate wooden Chihuahua traps. These traps, built from scrap wood and loaded with fluffy pink sweaters as bait, are set along the path of the dogs' annual migration. It is dangerous work; every town in the region has tales of brave men lost to seas of tiny canines, victims of the rapacious bloodlust of the dreaded lobos salvajes minúsculos de Chihuahua.

But they accept this risk, as trapping supplements their small incomes by providing the widely-desired meat of the wee pooches. The prefered method of preparation is to dip the animals in a batter made from masa, a traditional corn flour, mount them on sticks, and deep fry them. Known as perros del maiz, they are said to taste not unlike pixie sticks soaked in bacon grease with just a hint of cilantro.

Next year I hope to sit upon a desert hill in the north of Mexico, awaiting the surge of tiny golf-ball heads with perky ears goggling through dry stream beds. Perhaps this is a foolish idea. The dangers of Chihuahua hunting are well-documented.

But my fear is tempered with a respect for the majesty of these mysterious creatures, and a desire to witness first-hand the legendary beasts of the Mexican desert.

Destiny calls, and it fits in a teacup, shivering and yapping.

I will now stop beating this joke to death.


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