On a solo van tour of Mexico in 2021 I was headed back north to cross over to Baja. I had sold my farm back in Georgia and had what was left of my "downsizing adventure" and my 2 dogs in the van, I had a lovely stay in the state of Veracruz where I found River the Dog, a new friend for aging Brady. I went to Puebla, then down to Oaxaca and was headed north...in the state of Sonora on the border of AZ, on one of those long lonely desert highways, someone came out of nowhere and Tboned the van, flipped us over and crushed everything, there was NO one on the road that Sunday morning.
I thought I had hit a cow or blown a tire? Nope.
My 2 dogs (Brady 13, and River from Veracruz 2) were thrown clear somehow and were found the next day by a farmer in the desert. Minor cuts only, they were fine. I survived. Some bangs and bruises. We were all a little traumatized.
The guy who pulled me out through a shattered windshield kept saying 'Que Milagro!' (what a miracle) **(the other driver, uninsured of course, was fine. Hats off to Honda Civics, she had only a crumpled front end) TLDR below
I was taken to an odd little town on the Sea of Cortez where houses are built out of pallet wood crates and there are no services. A tall handsome guy in a fedora had a concrete cabana near the sea and he let me rent it for some inflated gringo price but still. He was very kind. Many people helped me collect my things off the highway, and lots of guys crawled inside the van looking for my passport, phone, wallet and other things that had been tossed around. I had been on the road for a long time though and was pretty organized, I was grateful. At the wrecker the next day to check for any other personal items the van had been stripped of things like seats, glovebox, steering wheel...the insurance company had already deemed it "unrepairable" even though I'd sit around in the desert for another 6 weeks waiting for any payment.
While I walked around looking for stuff to eat, a taxi (don't have) a cafe (don't have) or a fresh mercado for fruit (don't have) I was struck at the dozens if not hundreds of stray, limping, starving dogs with giant ticks hanging off their bodies. What fresh hell is this place?!
Walking on three legs, covered in mange, lots of eye infections. Despite all of this, these dogs were friendly and happy to have some WATER and company and of course food and care. There was a big front porch at the casita and shade is also at a premium here. Every single one of them stayed on the porch for a couple months and I pulled ticks out of ears, and cooked big pots of soup for everyone. We all walked the beach together in a huge pack daily. No one walks dogs or treats them as family here. They are pests and treated like pigeons. I've seen a lot of neglect in Mexico but this was on a scale that I couldn't ignore. My porch became a bit of a Dog Salon and Diner. And where they congregate, more will follow.
A 2004 Toyota minivan is a great find, but not worth more than $4000 to an insurance adjuster. You can buy a car here "not legally" as a foreigner and hope you don't leave the state. Or go back to US somehow (there are no busses here or transit and what of the dogs and my stuff? It's not a lot but it's too much to carry) buy a car there and pay another $400 for a permit and wait for residency which changes monthly during Covid. There were too many variables and it would all cost way more than $4000. So I used the 4000 to rescue the dogs. And I still am. I also work as a copywriter.
I found a rental with a fenced scrap yard from the cousin of the guy with the fedora. I've got a little attached office that they no longer use and it's the dog rescue. It's a rough place but I have a makeshift kitchen, AC, water and a patio where we can do spay and neuter clinics. Did I mention there's no VET IN TOWN? And no furniture? Or lumber. Or deliveries. I do not even have an address. I'm 3 hours from Hermosillo off a VERY potholed road and it never seems worth it to ride that far to buy tshirts at Walmart. I do without a lot of stuff. This experience has really tested my mettle.
I'm in a VORTEX for sure. The suffering of dogs is more than I can bear most days. I have found a vet who drives here 2x a month on weekends and brings us meds and checks everyone and in the meantime, I do my own triage.
I feel I've been dropped here on my head (literally) to help these animals. It's definitely not the Mexico charm I'm used to but guess what? That's not this chapter. An Unplanned Mission (from Dog) and I'm on Day 756
I have a blog on Substack you can check out and subscribe and a Patreon and lots of ways to help out if you feel like it, buy a tshirt, donate etc. I really REALLY need a good used van. Anyone? You can go to linktr.ee/lolasdogrescue
More on the hacienda and my previous life as a chef and restaurants in ATL here from my past lives if you're new to my story.