When I first came to Oaxaca in October of 2013, I made friends with a funny dog on the main pedestrian/tourist stretch (Alcala). I would watch him as he eagerly approached other dogs, or would scoot, inch by inch, towards someone sitting on the sidewalk with a burger, sandwich, hotdog….or whatever.
When I returned in July 2014, I lived only 2 blocks away from his regular hang out, and saw him almost daily. He was a little skinnier than I’d remembered, but still spunky. He’d wander up and down the long brick street, and was often met with beatings and kicks by unkind passers-by. More than once, I chased THEM off screaming not to kick “my” dog.
And then he disappeared, and I moved apartments. I still looked for him every day for months…but as 2 months turned to 3, I was certain he’d found a new place to live. But then, one strange afternoon, he appeared on my new street….right in front of my house. I opened the door and he walked in like he had lived here with me all his life…and from that moment on, it was his home.
As you all know, Gomi died last Sunday. He lived nearly 13 years and was kind enough to share his last one with me. Today, I was walking down that familiar road looking for a shop selling boxes (wood, metal, whatever) to place his ashes in.
I walked into a collective and began looking at all the box like/vase like items they had, when someone suggested that if I were looking for a container that I go to the weaved items. Sitting there was a guy from a nearby pueblo, who began explaining to me the process of making these types of basket-boxes (wallets, purses, etc.) and asked what I’d be using it for. When I told him I recently lost and cremated my dog, and wanted a nice container for his ashes, he got a weird look in his face. At first I thought I’d offended him, but then he started to tell me that traditionally in the pueblos, they wrap the bodies of their dead in palm leaves before they bury them. The baskets I was looking at were made of palm as well, and he felt it was not only poetic but that nothing could be more appropriate.
It does feel poetic. Gomi will not be buried in palm leaves, but he will be enveloped in them always.