After 4 airplanes and a 3 hour bus ride, about 2 days of traveling, we finally made it to Puerto Natales very late last night. The hostel we are staying at is very cozy and is the home to 2 orange tabby cats, Bonnie and Clyde.
We woke up the next morning in PN to a beautiful town that seemed to be hidden from us the night before by darkness and jet lag. The town is quiet but feels full of life. It was very apparent when looking outside that there is a dog overpopulation problem. Within the first 15 minutes, there were more than 10 free roaming dogs to pass the hostel and of the males, none of which seemed neutered, while females looked heavily pregnant. Our work will certainly make a difference in the community. We have the morning off to organize ourselves and this afternoon we will explore the town we will be calling home for the next few months. We went out for a great first lunch in PN. The food was amazing, but for Graham and I, it was a challenge in even attempting to order a meal. I’m sure we ended up butchering Spanish for lunch. Rebecca and Corinne have turned into human dictionaries, but I hope my background in French will allow me to learn Spanish quickly. Elena and Guillermo, our project leaders, have set up a press conference in the next few days to remind the community about our work. Our parkas donated to our project by Helly Hansen Canada will come in handy. Apart from their use to keep us away from the strong winds and humid cold, they now seem to be what will distinguish us as workers in the community.
Tomorrow, we will be starting the project with the free roaming dogs, learning how to safely work with dogs that are not used to being handled. We are also learning how to take precautions against a zoonotic disease in the area, cystic hydatid disease, which is prevalent in more than half of the dogs we are working with. We are all so excited to start the project we have been preparing for since January.