Curiousities

Doggy deliveries help Colombians shop during pandemic

MEDELLIN, Colombia (AP) — Eight-year-old Eros trots through the streets of this hilly city several times a day with a straw basket in his jaws, taking vegetables, fruit and packaged foods to customers of the El Porvenir mini-market. The chocolate Labrador retriever is paid with treats and massages of his furry head.


Eros carries a basket of bread from the El Porvenir mini-market as he makes a delivery on his own in Medellin, Colombia. The eight-year-old chocolate Labrador remembers the names of customers who have previously rewarded him with treats, and with some practice, he has learned to go to their houses on his own. “He helps us to maintain social distancing,” said Eros’ owner Maria Natividad Botero, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Luis Benavides)

“He helps us to maintain social distancing” says Eros’ owner Maria Natividad Botero. “And people love it when we send the dog.”

Eros wasn’tt always a star. He was accepted into the family begrudgingly by Botero after repeated requests by her son to adopt a dog.

But Botero and the rest of the family quickly fell in love with the pup. And when they opened a mini market four years ago in the hilltop neighborhood of Tulipanes, he started to accompany Botero and her kids to make deliveries.

Eros doesn’t know how to read addresses. But he remembers the names of customers who have previously rewarded him with treats. And with some practice, he has learned to go to their houses on his own.

“He knows the names of five or six of our customers” Botero said. “So I send the merchandise with a receipt in the basket, and my customers pay me through a bank transfer.”

As COVID-19 cases in Colombia have climbed to more than 3,000 new infections each day, city governments are imposing social distancing measures, and limiting the number of days per week that people can go shopping.

That’s turned delivery workers into an increasingly important part of the economy.

Eros might not know that he’s become an essential worker. But he is happy to help his owners and collect his daily pay.

“He’s quite a glutton” Botero said. “He won’t leave your house until you give him a treat.”

Firm to offer balloon rides from Alaska to the edge of space

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A company wants to use an advanced balloon to fly customers from Earth’s surface in Alaska to the highest reaches of the planet’s atmosphere.

Florida-based startup firm Space Perspective plans to use the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak to serve as one of the launch sites for the vehicle, called the Spaceship Neptune, The Anchorage Daily News reported Sunday.

The balloon rides will be manned by a flight crew taking eight passengers in a pressurized capsule suspended beneath a hydrogen balloon the size of a football stadium.

Passengers could pay an estimated $125,000 for a six-hour journey.

Mark Lester, CEO of Alaska Aerospace Corp., said the high-altitude rides will be available from Kodiak in a few years and will support Alaska tourism.

“You will have people from around the world who want to come to Alaska and see the northern lights from the edge of space,” Lester said.

Passengers will begin with a two-hour ascent to about 19 miles above Earth. They will then be able to post on social media about the experience or send data.

“Neptune then makes a two-hour descent under the balloon and splashes down, where a ship retrieves the passengers,” along with the capsule and balloon, Alaska Aerospace said.

Capsule recovery would occur in the waters around Kodiak Island and the Aleutian Island chain, depending upon the seasonal wind patterns.

The balloon design is derived from technology NASA has used for decades to fly large research telescopes, Space Perspective said.


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