Well, it’s not exactly funny, but it is. I’d tell the kids, but I lack the grammar to do it in Spanish, so I’m telling it here. The first morning I was here, something woke me up pretty early in the morning—before the kids started milking actually—and I got up and wandered around. It was still dark, obviously—as I now know it must have been before 4am, and as I walked by an enclosure something, something large, made one of the most hideously frightening noises I’d ever heard. It’s really funny to think of it now, but because I’d never heard it before and my mind had no concrete image to put with it, it came up with nothing short of “monster” and I ran back to my bed!
Turns out it was a pig.
Turns out they are by far the loudest animals in the tambo. They scream and growl and grunt and howl for hours every day. Come to think of it, the only time they’re quiet is when they’re sleeping. I’m accustomed to it now, hardly notice actually, but today one of them was making even more noise than usual. “Crazy pig,” I thought. “From the sound, you’d think someone was killing it.”
When I’d finished mucking the pen where the terneritos [calves] sleep, I wandered over to a group of students who were working with what looked to me like a very sick pig. There was a little blood on its chest and it was lying pretty still. Rather awkwardly, as usual, I asked what was wrong with it. Looking at me as though I were a little daft [which is also business as usual around here] one of the students pointed to a table behind me on which lay several large knives coated in very fresh blood.
I don’t quite know why it strikes me as funny. It wasn’t the pig being butchered that was funny. That’s life around here [and at home too, only we lack the proximity]. I think my expectations, my world-view I guess you’d say, has been so up-ended here that I no longer expect to be right about anything. But someone actually was killing the pig. I wonder if it’s a kind of pendulum experience [like so many others in life] where you come in to a new situation/a new culture and realize all your expectations were off, all the things you thought you understood, you didn’t etc. etc. But then maybe after a while you come back to realizing that you can still trust you gut for some things, that you can perceive without your expectations coloring it, that some things are true no matter where you are.