Archive | September, 2010

And the cat ran away with the…

17 Sep

…Testicle. Of a sheep (pretty similar situation to how the dish ran away with the spoon). And that’s how I rang in the year 2003 (for the second time in my life)! Happy New Year!

Here in Ityop’ya, it recently turned 2003. And how does one celebrate such an occasion, you ask? Pretty much in the same exact manner as every other holiday is celebrated here. The family on my compound purchased a large rooster many days before the occasion, and then also a large sheep on New Year’s Eve. I don’t know if you have ever lived in close proximity to a rooster, but it’s not something I recommend, unless you have a lot of land or really stellar ear plugs. However, this is not the case with my living situation, and for the few days that the rooster was here, he would graciously wake us up at about 5am with constant cock-a-doodle-dooing, although in Ityop’ya, that’s not what a rooster says.

Anyhow, about 11:40pm, I got a knock on my door from the family on my compound, saying they were going to start the sheep slaughter. The little guy and I had bonded earlier, over his last meal of cabbage leaves and water, before he proceeded to head butt me with his small horn in my left knee (he was trying to get at the cat but I happened to be in the way). Sad times, but what enjoyment the family got out of him! Back to the title of this entry, once he was killed, he was hung upside down in the doorway of the family’s outside kitchen. During the skinning process, my landlord cut off the [large] testicles of the sheep, and gave one to the cat, who devoured it. Can’t say I’ve seen that before, but it was entertaining!

When the clock struck 6 (the midnight equivalent), we didn’t pop a bottle of bubbly, set off fireworks, or bang on pots and pans; we merely sat and continued to watch the sheep slaughter. It was the ultimate family affair. I excused myself and went to bed awhile afterwards, and I have no idea how late everyone else stayed up for the “excitement”.

*Cultural note* – There is a very multi-purpose knife that is used in this country – it looks like a sickle, and it is used in the fields to cut grass/plants of sorts, in the kitchen to chop food/vegetables, and also to slaughter animals!

On New Year’s Day, I was woken up to join my compound family for breakfast. The most beloved holiday breakfast meal is sabihi darho (Tigrigna for chicken wat/stew) – served with injera, of course! I try my hardest not to eat meat here, and my Habesha friends/neighbors know that, so I always get a heaping pile of scrambled eggs on special occasions. Another holiday favorite is a homemade local beer called sewa (in Tigrigna, or tella in Amharic)…aka sewage in my opinion. Some people refer to it as dirty water…it’s kind of yellowy-brown in color and sometimes tastes what I imagine worn car tires would taste like (and don’t mind the floating chunks that may or may not be at the top of your cup – you just casually spit them out). Everyone’s sewa tastes a bit different, and I must say that it’s an acquired taste. At first I thought it was horrible, but it’s slowly growing on me! And your host never lets your glass get below half full!

It’s quite typical on holidays to receive many invitations to peoples’ houses, so basically you have a day (or many) filled with nothing but food, local beer, and coffee (and of course traditional dancing!). It’s at times exhausting and a lot to take in, literally! Holidays here basically are huge meat fests – and no part of the animal goes to waste. Another local favorite is a dish called dulet, which is of the intestinal variety (something I pass on…). The mentality is, if there is meat to be consumed, why on Earth would you not want to eat it?! I think I’d rather have ham, black eyed peas, and collards.

So that was how I spent my new year’s 2003, part deux. It made for a nice time! And I was recently told that Flag Day is this coming Monday, whatever that entails (no work or school…I’m not sure if it’s a National holiday or just a Tigray thing)…there are sooooooo many holidays in this country!

Waving in the wind