That last post was written a week ago so I will talk about my dealing with the schools next post. This post I would just like to talk about my increased interactions with animals.
Since I live in a small rural village, most people own animals. Even in Marapyane, a much larger and developed town there were many animals. So I have become accustomed to seeing them in everyday life. I am no longer surprised to see donkeys and horses out in the open or even to see someone riding down the road with his donkey* cart.
Roosters are incredible annoying. How is it that everyone thinks they only crow in the morning? They crow whenever they damn well please, which is all the time. Even more so, if one crows they all crow and then the first one forgets it has already crowed so it replies to the other roosters. Luckily there aren't nearly as many where I live now but they still make their presence known. I may just karate chop one in the neck to see if I can fix its voice box...for good.
Cows are here as well. Always eating, just lying around. I had a recent experience that made me think they are completely helpless creatures. During a nice afternoon chatting with my host family, it came to our attention that a cow had become trapped/stuck in a ditch and needed help to get out. When I finally saw the situation, the cow was stuck in a ditch maybe half a foot deep and a foot across. It must of been an effort to get stuch in a ditch that small. It wasn't even all the way in! It did not seem phased but I am not sure anything phases them now. So we pushed and pulled and finally got it out enough that it could get itself up again- very pathetic. I am conviced it was just seeing how much it could get away with.
My village also has many goats. Up until this moment in my life I am not sure I had ever seen a goat. No more I tell you. They are crafty little suckers. There are a few that are always waiting outside my door and when I open it they scamper away, perhaps they just like the shade. And it is true they will eat almost anything. Any scrap of food I throw out, is gone in a matter of minutes.
This morning I walked into my host family's house to get some coffee powder (all coffee is most likely instant and only about 70% coffee 30% chickoree), there was a large mass on the table with a cloth over it. My natural curiosity got the best of me and upon inspection I found a dead sheep gutted and skinned. I was not nearly as shocked as I should have been, I just slowly lowered the cloth and proceeded to get my coffee and that was that. Perhaps my days at Bloom prepared me for this.
This story brings me to the next part which is of course why everyone owns animals. Thur fer eatin. The South Africans really use every part and eat everything that can be eaten. This means cartilage and tendons, organ meat and the head. This means after finishing a chicken leg there is a little pile of bones. I have gotten better at this since being here, half because I have grown accustomed to it with baby steps and half I feel like a complete snob when I only eat the meat and the little kids around me are easily sucking out the marrow of the bones.
The other day the kids in my family slaughtered two chickens. I had never seen this process before and was interested to see it happen. My host father in Marapyane had killed several chickens for our supper but I had never seen the process. It was a lot of work. The killing was done relatively quickly, in front of the smallest children by the way who were completely fine with the whole process. Then came the dipping in scalding water to take out the feathers, followed by the butchering. They kept everthing they could, which really only excluded the gall bladder. S0 for lunch that day I had chicken feet, intestines, stomach, and liver with a side of pap. Pap is the staple food of South Africa. Recipe is as follows:
Add Maize Meal (Corn Flour)
Add more Maize Meal
Stir some more
You now have a heaping pile of pap. It is flavorless and contains really very little nourishment but of course fills one up. I have had quite a bit of pap since being here.
I was proud of myself, I ate almost everything. The chicken feet were a little too much, I am not sure what you are supposed to eat. The rest tasted ...like chicken. Except the liver, I am not sure what it tasted like but it wasn't completely awful. Right now, my host family is cooking the sheep I found this morning, there is a big pot they are cooking the meat (everything) and another where they are cooking the head. I'll tell you how that goes.
This is of course not the normal South African meal, it is just something that will occasionally be eaten because it is there and should not be wasted. That is to say I have been here 2 months and this is the first time I have had this meal. It is mostly meat and pap or rice, sometimes there is a side dish (common dishes include a stewed cabbage (delightful), squash, vegetable gravy). Sometimes there is no meat. Sometimes there is no meal, it all depends.
I am appreciative to know what goes into my food and how its made and it makes the meal all the more interesting. And having all the animals around is like having several enormous pets all about, except occasionally you will eat one. I could do without the roosters though.
*"Donky" in Setswana is "Tonkie", easiest word to learn or maybe just my favorite.