Tuesday, January 5, 2010

All Dennis Wants for Christmas...

is a goat. Seriously, he never came right out and asked for one, but for the couple weeks leading up to Christmas, he was laying the hints down pretty thick. “Oh, how nice it would be to have a goat over the holidays!” “We usually get a goat for Christmas, but I’m not sure if we’ll be able to this year.”

random goats on the side of the road: as common as as the grass they eat

After hearing these subtle pleas for a few weeks, I got the hint. And even though I have gotten to know Dennis and Patricia fairly well in the month and a half I have lived with them, I still had absolutely no idea what to get them in exchange for all their kindness and generosity. The goat was a win-win for everyone involved…except the goat. Plus, it would mean that I would get to share in all the stews and kabobs Patricia would make from it.

So, about a week before Christmas, after another one of Dennis’ hints, I asked him how much a goat was. His answer: maybe 70 or 80 cedis ($50-$60). Then, I told him my plan: we’d go 50-50 on it. He thought about it for a minute, and then a big smile came across his face, and he said “Alright!” He was in good spirits for the next few days, shopping around for the best deal. He called some friends in more rural places to see how much they were selling for up there (Accra is on the southern coast, so when I refer to rural places in Ghana, I will probably use “up there.”) and contemplate transportation logistics, and we went around to a few of the sellers in town. It seemed many Ghanaians also had the same goat idea, and we quickly found out that there was a holiday premium on our furry, horned friends. But all that meant was that we would have to pay a little bit more or sacrifice a little on size.

A few days before Christmas, Dennis came home and declared that he had found our goat from one of the sellers down the road and that he and I would be going to pick it up the next day. So, the day came, and we went.

****EXCLAIMER****It gets a little gross after this****EXCLAIMER***

As we drove to the place, Dennis explained to me that we had to pay an extra 10 cedis for them to do the dirty work (killing, burning the hair off, disemboweling, etc.). He said that, according to the pre-arranged time for us to pick it up (noon) it should all be done by now (2:30), and we could just grab it and go. But, Ghana being Ghana, of course it was not done yet. We pulled over and parked on the side of the road about 30 yards before a roundabout (rotary) whose center was being used as a makeshift pen, with 3 or 4 guys guarding/herding the dozen or so goats. Dennis explained that yesterday, when he came buy there were about 3 dozen left: apparently they were quick sellers.

Goats of many sizes, shapes and colors in the center of the rotary, guarded but some guys

We crossed the road to the shack right before the rotary, which was where the dirty work was being done. In front of the shack was a dead goat, skinned and de-furred, lying in an empty bucket. From inside the shack, the din of loud, ominous chopping rent the air for all around. The guy from inside saw us approaching and came outside to meet us. He was a huge man in height and girth, probably about 6’5, wearing a sleeveless shirt drenched in sweat. Large burn scars running up the length of his right arm from shoulder to wrist. He explained that he was running a little late, but that he would start the disemboweling process now, motioning to the goat in the bucket. GREAT!

Luckily, there was an empty bench nearby for Dennis and me to have a front-row view (slight sarcasm). For the sake of time and sick stomachs, I will not describe the process in detail, but rather only use a few key words and let you know that I do have pictures, so, if you’re interested, inquire within:

saw, head, off, slit, intestines, innards, wash, drain, wash, drain, chop, chop, chop

We left half an hour later as Dennis happily carried a black bag full of what had become of our goat. His step was so airy that you would have never guessed that the bag was about 50 pounds. When we got home, Dennis got right down to the business of chopping it into even smaller pieces. Everyone was very pleased with the proceedings, and I had seen enough dead goat to last me a lifetime, so I left the kitchen. At the writing of this, I can say that Patricia has certainly put the sacrificed animal to the good use of very tasty stews, meat pies and more. All in all, it was one of my more successful Christmas gifts, if rather unconventional.

Dennis happily chopping up the goat in the kitchen

1 comment:

  1. another great reflection.
    you need a g in motioning to the goat.
    I had a nice time with Lindsay over the holidays.
    she is well but misses you.