Not long after the devil lost the battle over Job’s soul, he went back to God wanting to re-up the deal. He argued that the sample size of just one man was too small. God snorted in derision and replied back that He had already given the devil dominion over the temptations of all men so what more could he possibly ask for?

The devil said he needed an external, more physical place upon which to try to break the souls of men. In short, the devil wanted his own playground. A place populated with every known species of thorn bearing plant. An area so full of rocks and stones as to equal the rest of the earth combined. And lastly, he wanted a place where leash laws wouldn’t gain acceptance for at least another million years.

And so it was that God gave the devil Michoacán.

It occurred to me while finishing up my morning run to write down this version of the origins of Michoacán. And like with any myth, there is no absolute proof. In the immortal words of Philip Marlowe, “Proof is always a relative thing. It’s an overwhelming balance of probabilities.”

Michoacán has an overabundance of four majorly annoying substances: rocks, thorns, scary dogs that bite, and fire ants. My hypothesis is – and has been for quite some time – that Michoacán is the devil’s own playground.

That hypothesis got an upgrade this morning after a multiple dog encounter at the turnaround part of my run. I had previously seen the one big roan colored beast on my last three runs but it was always too far away and too pre-occupied with watching its cattle to pay me any mind. That never stopped me from shouting hello; wanting it to hear the sound of my friendly cow-loving voice and also to wake up its never present owner.

I have discovered that it’s always good to be introduced to dogs. Especially in Latin America and especially in the country. From my numerous close calls it has been my experience that if you were to get bit – let alone savaged – chances are it would be your fault. Choose their argument, which could be any flavor of: you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, the dog didn’t know you, and he was just doing his job.

So when I came upon three men and four dogs a little later on, the campesinos thought it was pretty damn funny that I wanted to be introduced to their dogs. They obliged me anyway so with their oversight their three half breed pit bulls and one mangy mongrel all warily came over to give me a sniff. Pit bulls scare the shit out of me because I can’t read the bastards.They never telegraph their intentions with either tail wags or that squirmy thing that other dogs do when they want to get petted. No, not pit bulls. Pit bulls only just give you their inscrutable Attila the Hun stare as they walk up to you. One did that to me a few months back and as I picked up a big rock, its owner standing only a few short feet away said, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you. He doesn’t like rocks’.

So anyway, all this time I am standing a foot away from a mound of fire ants. They’re pretty damn territorial too. I was too preoccupied with the dogs to notice the dozen or so that had crawled up my legs and gotten into my running shorts. The campesinos thought that was hilarious, although they did me the courtesy of not trying to show it. Me doing the dance of pain, tearing my running shorts off, slapping at myself. The mongrel started barking furiously making lunging motions. I tripped over my shorts and ended up backing into some kind of thorn bearing bush. A thorn about an inch long broke off in my left heel.

On the run back over the long trail of rocks and sharp stones, my one sandal heel squishy with blood, I was still mindful of just how fortunate I really was.
I was relating the story to a guy in the Mercado over lunch today and he interrupted me to show me a half a dozen cuts and abrasions; a couple of which should have required stitches. He was riding his bike down a mountain path not too far north from where I was today and a dog lunged at him. He went off the path, went over the handle bars, and cartwheeled for 20 feet or more; mostly over rocks.

And then there are the bad guys…