So as I’ve mentioned previously I really try not to eat the meat here. I’m not a vegetarian and not trying to champion animal rights because meat is tasty and it’s the circle of life/food chain/etc. However, I just can’t do it anymore. Let me highlight some of my meat experiences:
Truck full of cow parts. So there’s this truck, just a plain ole F150 but much smaller, and it delivers the dead cows to the butcher-or what I think is a butcher because it’s a non-descript building. Anywho, the cow parts just hang out in the bed of the truck. Not in bags, not covered, just hanging out in the bed of the truck. Then to make matters worse there’s this trail of blood and flies and smears of blood all on the sidewalk and walls of this alleged butcher shop. Yum.
Cow head walking down the street. So one day I’m heading to a meeting and walking with one of the teachers and a guy is just strolling down the street carrying a decapitated cow head. The teacher I’m with doesn’t notice or make any mention as I have my mouth dropped open. He just carries on with the conversation. And, this is the part that bothered me the most- the cow’s eyes were still open.
Cow skull hanging out on the street corner. Yep, just a skull hanging out on the street corner. No biggie. Well, the horns were kind of freaky all attached to the skull. I know the horns are attached and all but it was still interesting to see it all fused together.
Chuchos gnawing away on meat scraps. Chuchos are the starving street dogs who definitely take what they can get. Once I saw a chucho eating some random chewy looking piece of meat. I have no idea what part of what animal it came from but I assume intestine. Mind you all of this meat is raw and probably crawling with worms. Poor chuchos.
You’re gonna eat what? So for the longest time I saw these huge legs in the butcher windows. They were so huge and cloven and just solid. I thought they were rhinoceros or something because they were that huge. Obviously not a lot of rhinos wandering around Guatemala but it turns out it they are just the legs of bulls- cloven hoof and all. And people eat this! In soups or who knows how. Once I ate something called panza. I didn’t know what it was but I figured it was intestine of some sort. Turns out it was cow stomach. It was chewy and greasy and I pooped forever.
The taste. Meat here has this weird acidic sour taste. Even if you go to the Walmart and buy the “fancy” ground beef the weird taste is there. You just can’t get away from that taste. It’s so weird. Maybe it’s what non steroid meat is supposed to taste like but I blame it on the lack of refrigeration and the fact they just cut off the coagulated part of the meat when they begin to sell it to you. I witnessed this many times and then proceeded to eat it because I didn’t want to be culturally insensitive to my host family.
The smell! Oh the smell! My dad told me what would probably bother me the most would be all the smells and it’s definitely true. I hold my breath as I walk through the market because of all the carnecerias. I just want to get my veggies but have to walk by all the hanging off of hooks unrefrigerated meat. Then after I make it past the cow meat I have to make it past the unrefrigerated dead chickens. Those stink just as bad but in a totally different way. Buckets full of chicken feet and chicken organs. Oh and let’s not forget the fish. The nearest beach is about 6 hours away and I’m pretty sure they aren’t delivered to my town in a nice refrigerated truck and they aren’t sold in buckets of ice either. Once I ate a fish here- head and fins and all. It was interesting. I managed to not eat the skin until my host dad told me I should. In an attempt to not be culturally insensitive I tore off the skin, stuff it in a tortilla and doused it with lime juice. He proceeded to eat the head- sucking/crunching on the fish skull. I had to draw the line there.
Slaughterhouse. So my site mate and I are pretty sure we found the local slaughterhouse. We would see truckloads of cows go in and not come out. Fortunately the doors are usually shut and you can’t see in. Well today I thought I would walk to my school and the doors were open. And I looked in. And I shouldn’t have. It was dark and dingy and bloody and I saw a cow. A cow that had just been slaughtered and was being dragged and meat hooked. So I looked and walked away as fast as I could to only run into a dead dog on the side of the road and directly in my path. Yep. That was probably an omen.
Entonces, my meat days are probably pretty much over. Don’t get me wrong; when I get to the states in 99 days (who’s counting!) my first meal will probably be Whataburger and/or Popeyes. But not having eaten meat in almost a year will probably take its toll and I’ll be back on the fruit and veggie wagon. I considered putting pictures up- of what I call the death truck- but I know my mom would not have appreciated that and figure my descriptions are probably apt.