Not too long ago I was able to spend some time in Crique Jute. Let’s be honest, it’s pretty much my adopted village by now. The villagers all know me and--brace yourself--one guy even named his newborn daughter Mallory after yours truly! So I’m officially a legacy! With a name like Mallory, my heir will do great things in that Maya village! Hahaha
Anyway, I went out to help Dan thatch a hammock house… or as we would say in maya: na’j uk’aan. A couple of his villagers came to “help” us out, (aka- do it all themselves). Since I had previously thatched a house with my host brother, the men were impressed with my knowledge of thatching! I knew the number of leaves to use, the rotation, where to put the sticks that hold up the leaves while tying, and a few other general tid bits. Normally the women would be inside cooking during a thatching event. But, as you know me, I decided that I would be part of this thatching experience. Unlike the last time I thatched, the guys even let me get up on top of the beams and tie on some of the cohune leaves! It was so awesome!!
The thatching only took about 2 hours or so because the house wasn’t too large. Afterwards, Dan had made his grandmother’s chicken soup, which he jokingly told the guys was “Gringo Kaldo.” Traditionally, the women members of whoever’s house is being built will cook a kaldo, whether it be chicken, pork, etc. So to tie in a little American influence into the typical respectful gesture, Dan made his own version of kaldo. It was nice, even though we ate it at like 10am because we finished so quickly! Hahaha
After the exhausting morning in the heat, we took our much needed relaxation time before hitting the dirt path on a visiting walk. We headed to the hill Dan’s host family lives on to witness a pig being killed for a Baptism. One of the boys in the village had raised his pig for a year and a half and the men were killing it for the special day. The pig was 410 pounds!!! By far the biggest pig I’ve seen in this country yet…maybe ever! Hahaha. Though we just missed the actual slaughter of the pig, we got there just as they were shaving off the hair. Since I love the gross and gory stuff, I got right up next to the men, touching whatever they would allow me to. As they brought out the knives and machetes, one of the guys handed me a huge knife and pointed to the neck! He let me slice the neck off!! It was insanely cool and surprisingly easy to do. The only tricky part was the actual bone, which he took over and broke through. The pig head was enormous! I couldn’t believe it. It was probably the size of my torso in length. Ok, maybe not. I’m not a good judge of this sort of thing—it was really big!
We spend the remainder of the evening hanging with random villagers and helping where we could with the pig stuff. They gutted the pig, and cut off all the feet. Then all the insides were given to the women and we went down to the creek and washed them up. They ate EVERYTHING! They even sliced open the intestines, cleaned out the pig crap, and washed it thoroughly….and then brought it up for cutting and cooking. It was insane! The washing portion took a really long time! It must have been a few hours! It was a long, loooong process.
While I hung out in the river with the women, I seemed to attract every child under the age of 10 to my hip. I was being jumped on, tickled, attacked, got a new hairstyle—you name it, they did it. It was pretty cute and funny at first, but wore me out quick! The cutest part of playtime was one of Dan’s host sisters, Sonya, the cutest little 5 year old girl you’ll ever meet—she told me she loved me! It was so cute. She later went on to tell me I was her mom… which got really awkward when we were hanging out with her actual mom…hahaha.
After the insides were cleaned out, we headed back up to the hill. The men had started frying the skin for chicharon. The women went inside and started cutting up all the insides and making corn tortillas. I took advantage of playing with the kids for awhile before going in and helping with the MASSIVE pile of massa that had to be flattened into tortillas. Haha
The first batch of chicharon was a little bit weird. It was not the full skin, it was the layer right under the skin that was sort of meaty too. I was not a fan of that too much. I took my first bite and it tasted exactly like pig—not in a good way. I actually got nervous at first, thinking that maybe I had lost my appetite for pig after cutting one open. Ham is my favorite meat, how could this happen! Luckily, once the real chicharon came out, all my worries were put to rest because I was back on track. The chicharon was crunchy and nice and I’m sure extremely healthy. (Isn’t everything I eat down here healthy?)
I was feeling pretty proud of the day’s achievements by this point. Little did I know, the best what yet to come. As Dan and I tried to make our way out of the party, they brought out pig tongue! For serial! They fried it up, as they do everything, and—yep—I ate pig tongue! Pig tongue—not a fan. It tasted like a tongue! Hahaha. It was chewy and hard to swallow. I was done after half of one piece. I thought that was the last of it, but as we said our goodbyes, I was handed a bowl of pig liver! Hahaha True story! So we sat and ate our livers and, I have to admit, it was pretty delicious! Liver is by far my favorite part of the pig—at least of the parts I’ve tried! It was very flavorful and really nice with tortillas. It left a good last taste in my mouth before finally getting out of there.
All in all, it was a pretty successful and enjoyable day in the village! I had a blast! I love experiencing new things like that! Where else am I going to get to do something as awesome as slit open a big head and then eating it’s giant tongue??? Hahaha….