I have already shared my thoughts on what it’s like living the simple life on the country side of Paraguay. This entry though is directly from my journal. I literally copied it word from word. I wrote it a few hours after I witnessed the slaughter of a cow in the countryside of Paraguay and thought it would be perfect to share as it is. So here you have it another entry from my journal.
It’s 9:30am and I just woke up from an hour nap. That is because I’ve been up since 4am. It’s another dark and grey day here in Monte Alto and also my last. At 1:30pm I’ll be catching the bus to Asuncion. Fuck I have tears in my eyes I don’t want to leave, but have to carry on.
So yeah I woke up at 4am and at 4:15am Emilio (the neighbor) was here to pick me up. He asked if I was ready to slaughter a cow. I said, “yes”, but inside was so scared. I kept thinking “what if I can’t handle it” and “what if I throw up in the middle of the process”. My thoughts were endless, because I know I have a weak stomach and can’t handle things like them, but oh well I went anyway. I really wanted to see this. We arrived at his home, which is not too far from where I was living. We walked into the outside patio and two piglets ran around until he kicked them out and then two frogs came out and carried on. He offered me mate and I accepted. It was hot mate and I don’t like it so told him “Gracias” after one drink. You say that when you don’t want anymore. Then two more people arrived and it was time. Between 3 people they were going to slaughter the cow and I was just going to watch in the distance and take photos. When we went outside it was pitch black with a million stars in the sky. We walked out to this cement slab with two poles and pulley. I figured that’s where they were going to kill the cow. Then moments later right next to it after they turned on the lamp that was on top of the post I saw the cow a few yards away. My heart sank and I felt sorry for it but then I thought “OMG how many cows have I ate in my life time?” Especially because everyone knows I fucking love hamburgers and have ate over a million in my lifetime. So I asked, “Is that the cow?” and they said, “yes”. Emilio laid all the knives and saw near by and then Miguel got the rope to wrangle the cow around his horns. Once that was done the cow knew his fate and tried fighting it, but never stood a chance. Then another guy put another rope around the horns and they tied it around the poles and brought the cow to the dead center of the slab.
There he stood with nowhere to go. Then Miguel grabbed a huge butcher knife and that was it. He stabbed the cow behind his head on the neck and he let out a huge “moo” then again and by the third one he collapsed and for a few brief seconds kicked his legs out in despair and then was stabbed one last time and stillness was what was left. He didn’t move anymore. Then they made one of the holes bigger and a waterfall of blood came out and they collected it in buckets and just threw the blood out in the yard next to me like nothing. So much blood came out. While this was happening I asked them how much does it weigh and they told me she weighed about 400km (880lbs). I thought, “fuck that’s a lot”. Then I asked how old was the cow and they said, “7 years old”. That that’s how long it normally takes for a cow to fully grow to then sell it at it’s most potential. I thought interesting. Then the blood stopped and they carried on. They started with the legs. They cut all of the skin off and then cut off all four hooves. They then hooked its back legs to this huge pole that hung from the pulley of the two poles and started taking off the rest of the skin off the skull, the stomach, the back, and every thing. After that was done everything else happened so fast. Piece by piece (lol that’s the name of Kelly Clarkson’s new album) every part of the cow came out and the crazy thing is that I recognized most of them. What shocked me the most was when they pulled out the stomach and cut it open a whole bunch of grass came flying out and they just leave it there and moment’s later chickens come and start feasting off it. Just thought it was cool.
Then back at the cow they hung it further up and what was left was the good chunks of meat. The legs, the ribs and well they sawed the cow in half and kept chopping away at it. Before I knew it and it wasn’t even 6am they were done. Emilio came with his truck put all the big pieces in the back and that was that.
Miguel was done working and we chatted a lot. I asked him his name and how old he was. He told me “30 yrs old”. I asked him if he had a fixed job and he said, “No there is no work out here. I’ve been working since I was 8 years old though as a butcher. I learned young and any time a butchering job came up I’d go and make the little money that I can make”. My mind thought, “Fuck we’re the same age well I’m 29 but look how different our lives are. I can’t imagine doing this for a living and much less only when jobs come up here and there”. Then he asked me, “So really you’ve never seen this? You don’t see thing in your town? “I told him, “No I’m from a huge city and there we are so disconnected from our food. I don’t see this. I don’t grow my own vegetables and fruit or feed chickens. There everything is full of hormones and chemicals and even though we know it’s bad for us we eat because we can’t afford organic food. Y’all are eating healthier than I ever will. Y’all feed the cows and wait for them to grow naturally same with the chickens and all the plants y’all grow. That’s something I’m jealous of.” He stood there and said, “You are so right about that. I know cities where all the food is processed like that. They have caged chicken that in 40 days are ready. That’s just not right and same with cows and plants.” Then he pulled out his phone and showed me a photo of all the caged chickens. He said over 40,000 of them. Then Emilio’s wife called me and I went to her. She was cutting pieces of the meat off and washing something from the cow, but I couldn’t figure it out. She asked me questions about my life at home and then Emilio came in the truck and said he was going to drop me off and head to the city. So off I went.
In the truck he let me know that no part of the cow goes unused everything is used for something and if we don’t its left there for nature to take back. He said he only kills a cow when he knows he has a buyer and will be making some money off of it. Then I arrived at home and that was that.
It was not even 7am and everyone was awake. They asked how it went and I let them know. Then I had breakfast and then Diana took me into town so I could use the ATM because I’m out of cash and I asked to go to the market too to buy a few things for the family and leave as a gift. Bought them a lot of pastas, rice, ketchup, marmalade, napkins, toothpaste and few other things I knew they’d enjoy and would help them out. We then went to a cyber café because I’m not gonna lie now that’s its been 5 full days with out internet I am needing a fix and the apt I’ll be staying at in Asusnion with my other friend that I met in Bariloche doesn’t have wifi. So yeah. Oh well I’m excited to see her and the capital city. Well yeah then we found the cyber, but the Internet in town was down and had nothing. So we came back I took a nap and now I’m here.
They just let me know that if it rains the 1:30pm bus does not pass through town and that I’d need to be dropped off in San Jose and catch a bus there. Ahhh the adventures of small town life and mud roads. Ugh, I’m going to miss the family so much. Along with this was of life. They keep telling they’re going to miss me and that one day I must come back. I honestly hope I do one day.
1:30pm rolled around and the bus didn’t come so Jorge took me on his motorbike and omg it was crazy. We got stuck in the mud, almost fell in the mud, I got soaked by the rain and my backpack was wet too. We arrived to the city and literally seconds later a bus arrived and I had no clue what was happening. My bag was thrown on and I jumped in and didn’t even get a chance to thank Jorge or say by to him. I had to just go because I didn’t know when the next bus would arrive. Later that night I arrived at my friends apartment and was nice to have a few chill days. We explored the city and caught up and bought groceries so she could cook one night. Ahh it was perfect. My week in Paraguay hands down is one of the best weeks in my travels. It was so beautiful to see life in the countryside with no filter and then experience the city of Asuncion with a local and also with no filter. I would say more but think my two post on Paraguay have said everything I am feeling.
Before I continue with my usual questions I want to share a tidbit about this. I shared a few photos of this on my Instagram feed. I would like to let all of you know that on there I share everything I see on the road that I think is interesting. That includes both the good and the bad. When I shared this a reader commented and asked why I was glorifying and exploiting the slaughtering of an animal. She carried on saying that I was sharing it for shock value and should stick to my artsy pics. I let her know “I use Instagram to share what I see and experience in my life at home and on the road. As much as I’d love for everything I see in the world to be “artsy” that’s not the case. This is reality and I’ve always shared that on my blog and here as well. Sorry if you didn’t like it & I hope you understand.” I am giving that same reason to as to why I am sharing this on my blog. No it’s not for shock factor… this is the reality of these people. They must raise an animal and later kill it to sell it and make a living off of it. It’s a small amount they make, but that helps them sustain the simple life they live. Hope you all understand.
So have you ever seen the slaughter of a cow? Do you too think we are so disconnected from our food?