The Goat Slaughter

Wednesday 29th August 2007
Before I start today’s email, I should point out that, as the title suggests, this contains some rather graphic descriptions and photographs, so if any of you have weak stomachs or are vegetarians, you may wish to skip this post!
We made it back to Kathmandu for a delicious dinner of cheesy spaghetti, which was lovely, but I had so little appetite I could barely touch it. My fever came back, so I crawled off to bed at 8.30pm and slept for 12 hours!
I woke up on Friday feeling much better, and really refreshed. The temperature here is so lovely and cool after Chitwan, it’s such a relief!
I popped into town to collect my parcel, which arrived safe and sound, although I was required to jump through 50 bureaucratic hoops to actually get it!
After lunch we all packed up ready to go to our projects, and I was feeling totally fine until I suddenly had to run for the sink to throw up!
Poor Dom was rather surprised, as I’d been in mid-conversation when it happened! However as suddenly as it came on, it was gone and I felt completely fine again. We trouped downstairs and loaded up the van, when it happened again – really suddenly and with no warning!
Hom rushed out to shouts from the driver, and found me being unceremoniously sick in the grass by the van.
Despite still feeling completely fine (aside from the apparently spontaneous vomiting!) it was decided that I should stay at the hostel for an extra night to recover. It was a good thing in retrospect, as I really didn’t want the kid’s first impression of me to be like a scene from the Exorcist!
Nevertheless, I felt so bouncy and chirpy, better than I’ve felt in days, and I was just finishing off the Palin diaries when lovely Michael the hostel chef comes down to enquire what I’d like for dinner.
“Oh, I’m fine really, I’ll just eat what everyone else is having.”
“I could make you soup? Special soup for you?”
“No really, thank you, it’s fine.”
“How bout fruit? Fruit make you better!”
“Honestly you needn’t go to any trouble. I feel much better now.”
“Oh.” (looking crestfallen).
“Um, well the soup and fruit does sound delicious.”
“Ok, good!” (Michael bounces happily off upstairs).
He was so keen for me to have invalid food, I think he must really enjoy the occasional culinary challenge, and far be it for me to take that away from him!
So, dinner of soup and fruit, which was lovely, although my appetite had suddenly returned and I was starving! Luckily another girl wasn’t feeling well and let me eat her chips!
A good night’s sleep and I’m glad I stayed on another day, as I met a nice new Danish friend, Mari, who’s working in a monastery for 3 months so we’ve resolved to meet up soon.
The next morning I was writing up yet more emails when Maria comes down to ask if I’d seen the goat. I didn’t understand so she took me outside, where a live goat was tied up to the swing-chair on the porch, a cauldron of water was boiling and 3 blokes were sharpening their machetes!
(by the way, it’s about to get nasty – if you’re squeamish, look away now!)

The board with some grain on it for the goat, and a selection of freshly sharpened machetes!

I couldn’t really believe that they were going to slaughter a goat right there in the hostel courtyard, but that’s exactly what they did, and I felt compelled to take pictures and record it all for journalistic reasons, although at times it really was a bit gruesome.
They washed/annointed the goat’s neck with water, as apparently if the goat shakes it’s head after they sprinkle it’s neck with water then it is giving it’s permission to be killed. But then, what animal won’t shake it’s head when you sprinkle it with water?

Annointing the goat with water before the slaughter

They then put a small pile of grain down on a wooden board. While the goat’s head was bent eating the grain, one man held it’s legs while the other suddenly brought the machete down hard. It wasn’t quite the instantaneous death that the goat probably deserved, and I must admit I had to look away while they were hacking it’s head off. Apparently it’s good luck to get the head off in one go, but it’s very hard to do and it hardly ever happens.
They drained it’s blood into a bowl (for cooking later!) and I was surprised at how bright bright thick red the blood was. It was mesmerising, like a car crash when you can’t look away.

Draining the blood for cooking

They removed all it’s hair by pouring boiling water over it, and scraping it off with metal cups (the same cups we’d been drinking out of for two weeks!).

“Shaving” the goat using hot water and metal cups!

After it had been ‘shaved’ they rubbed masala (spices) all over it before cutting it up. They used every single part of the goat, except the horns and feet, cleaning and rinsing out the stomach and intestines, even getting meat out from inside the jaw. It was a very thorough process, and you really felt there was no waste (except maybe the goat’s life!) but it left me with a real quandry.

Washing the goat carcass

Marinating it in masala (spices)

Dismembering and cleaning the meat and organs

On the one hand, having just watched a goat being butchered, I was more tempted than I’ve ever been in my life to become a vegetarian. On the other hand, I’ve never tried goat, and Michael is upstairs producing lunch of the freshest meat I’ll ever taste, and it smells pretty good!
What to do?
Tune in next time to find out……
love fascinated-Maya

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