I met Thomas in Cuba, just before Richard.


But, as with Richard, we immediately had an understanding.


He was standing outside the exit of an underground stream ride we had just been on, somewhere in the Piñales area of Cuba. La Cueva del Indio it was called, and Thomas was the lesser attraction for the other tourists. Not for me though!


As long as I can remember, I’ve had a soft spot for cows. Not a love, I wouldn’t say that much, but whenever I saw one grazing peacefully in a field up in the Alps, I would try and interact with it. I have dozens and dozens of photos with me and a cow. Or cows. When our dog, Omero, was alive, he’d run up to the cows and bark, zipping through their legs until he got their full attention. When they tried pushing him away, he’d dash behind us and smile. I’m sure he was smiling.


Anyway Thomas’ handler assured us that he was a “normal” variety of buffalo, shipped all the way from Asia. To me, the stocky legs and super-sized horns smell more of random genetic mutation, but who knows. On the other hand, his owner looked so much like him that the subject was difficult to broach.


He wasn’t openly social – none of that licking of hands or smelling of breath went on, but he didn’t try to gorge me either, which was good considering the potential outcome. I didn’t have the courage to ride him, though, which is what he was there for.


His nose was the softest thing.

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