Buying a puppy for a quid

There may have been a night out on Wednesday.

Cocktails may have been consumed. Drinking games may have been played. The hours may have evaporated until Bryony and I ended up in a cab, unable to stop laughing even as we crept into Ruth’s flat.

I may have walked into a chair on my way to my room. I also may have yelped loudly. Which meant I spent the entire following day filled with fear.

It wasn’t the best 7.30am, two-hour bus ride I’ve ever taken to a market, particularly as I was wearing flip flops and my teacher cheerily informed me that the place was usually muddy and filled with animal excrement.


The first thing we saw were 30 or so pigs, all for sale, with several screaming with indignation as their new owners shoved them into trailers.

There were donkeys, chickens, ponies, geese, ducks. I was offered a lama for 60 dollars, which didn’t seem half bad.

But there was a bit of heartbreak too. I am well aware I look soft (I frequently resemble the pied piper when it comes to beggars and I always get stuck buying the Big Issue, even when I’ve already read it)

A woman with a large, wriggling hessian bag noticed that ‘bleed me dry’ aura I never seem to be able to eradicate and dumped the sack in front of me.

Inside were four puppies.

I groaned on the inside and bent down to give them a cuddle.

She started handed me the three boisterous ones, all falling over themselves to escape the sack and lick everything in sight.

But, of course, there’s always a tiny, defenceless creature being trampled at the bottom.

This puppy was mostly black with little tufts of white fur and a hopeless blinking expression. He was quietly squealing, emitting tiny little shrieks.

I held him in the palm of my hand and he quivered with fear.

“Two dollars,” the woman smirked.

It was horrible. I was irritated at the sight of these animals, being yanked around. Puppies in bags, rabbits being lugged around by their ears.

I’m not an animal nut, I’ve always preferred people, but this poor little creature looked like he was unlikely to live out the day and, with my hangover kicking in, we had a lot in common.

But it was impossible. It is always impossible. You can’t just go rescuing dogs because they cost less than a decent loaf of bread.

Reluctantly, I placed the puppy back, this time on top of his bolder siblings. The woman smiled tightly, grabbed both ends of the bag and slung the poor, whining little family over her shoulder before walking away.

I don’t know how to swear properly in Spanish yet.

Still, it was undeniably an incredible market. It was enormous, the biggest market I have ever seen. It took over an entire small town.

The sheer amount of animals was, in itself, ridiculous. I accidentally became caught in a swathe of people trading rabbits and guinea pigs from baskets, bags and cages – the fastest bartering and transactions imaginable.

There was acres of clothes, foodstuffs, farming equipment, shoes, jewellery. I watched a man carry100 crabs at once, tied together with twine. Another woman was arranging tomatoes into a tower. A third selling watches.

There was an entire fish quarter. There were sacks and sacks of grains and pulses. Rows and rows of shoes. Trays filled with baby ducklings.

Eventually, I started to enjoy the chaos of it all.

I bought a lama-hair hoodie which makes me look ridiculoudly Ecuadorian and even appears to generate it’s own heat supply.

But I still regret not buying that little fella. I suspect he would have been handy at keeping the Galapagoan fishermen at bay.

I wonder if we’ll end up going back.

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