Thursday, October 28, 2004


The first day I was in Meteora, coming back from the Grocery store, I met a white mother dog, her teats were huge and hanging. She was followed by a fluffy black and white puppy. The puppy was slow and taking every opportunity to lay down. The Mother heard the crackle of the bags and came to see if I had any food. Unfortunatly, I had nothing that I could feed to them. I tried grapes but they weren't interested. I gave them both some lovin; the puppy seemed particularly slow. I picked her up and saw she was covered in fleas. I thougth about what I could do to help. The only thing I had was a bar of Burt's Bees Rosemary Shampoo soap. I broke the bar in half and used the rest of my water to lather her up and wash away what I could. In the meantime the mother had gone and come back. When I was finished, the puppy seemed much more attentive: she was no longer trying to hide behind a tree; her tail was wagging, and she was lapping up water. The mother cleaned her up and off they went; the puppy much more spry than when I had first seen her. Many people were surprised by my actions. 'Why?' they would ask. Why not? She deserves to be as happy and clean, if only for a day or two.

Many days later, I saw the mother dog again. This time she was without her puppy. My hope is that someone saw that cute, sweet, clean baby girl and took her in.

This, however, is the story of another young stray; one that brought tears of joy and sorrow to many in the campsite.

Iza and Sylwek were walking home from Kalabaka one day when they heard a rough meowing. On the side of the road was a kitten, about 3 weeks old, covered in flies. It's little voice was so hoarse that it could hardly croak. Without a second thought, Iza scooped him up and brought him back to the campsite. When I saw them later on, they were trying to feed this darling little thing some watered down warm milk. Soon he had three moms. Sylwek was a little iffy about the whole situation, and the fact that Iza is allergic to cats, but he soon came around.

That day, Iza and I went back to the spot where they had found the kitten, hoping to find his mother. We had no luck. Everytime we saw a cat we would see if it was male or female and try to get the cat to take the kitten in. The first night the kitten spent the night with me in my tent because of Iza's allergies. I didn't mind. I was very cautious about not rolling on him and would wake up whenever I was moving.

The next morning, Sylwek found the perfect name for the kitten: Alfa [I had drawn the beer logo ALFA in Greek letters on Sywek's forearm with henna]

I had made a sling out of one of my sarongs and we were carrying Alfa around in that. Most of the time, when he was in the sling, Alfa would sleep. We would let him down on the ground and watch him waddle about. Once he shook his head and fell onto his side.

Iza and I were determined to find either his mother or a mother cat to adopt him. We searched all around the campground and that was when we realised that most of the strays that hung around were males. The first morning we had him, Iza and I split up. I ended up in the neighbouring fields meowing like a cat in the hopes that I would find a female. What a sight I must have made, parading about with a sarong sling, mewlling, rubbing a little bump in the material, looking all around along the fences and trees! When I was heading back to the common area, I found Iza,excited, she had been looking for me. She told me that she had found a female. We rushed back, and there was the little orange stray sucking on the young grey stray's nipple. However, upon closer inspection, we realised that the young grey was in fact a male. What an odd scene, once we understood, we just laughed.

The local Greeks, our friend Kostas included, were telling us to put him back out on the street. Leave him and his mother will come back for him. The stray population in Greece is phenominal, most locals pay no attention to either cats or dogs. They have a term for the animals, street dog/cat, and most of the time they ignore them, however; when one gets too close, either begging, or hanging about, they think nothing of it to give them a push, smack or boot. To the Locals, the animals seem to be everyday nuissances.

Silently, Iza, Sylwek and I agreed that more than likely the mother was not coming back, that the best place for Alfa was with us. The next dilema was: What do we do with Alfa once we leave Meteora? I would have brought him home with me, but I still had a good month left of travelling. Kostas declined our offer of a free pussy companion, saying he was not home enough to take care of it. Eventually, the plan became that Iza and Sylwek would take the kitten back to Katerini, where Sylwek's sister lived, and find a good home for him there before they flew out back to Germany.