EDITOR’S NOTE: The author [pictured above right] is in the midst of  a two year hitch in the Peace Corps doing health counseling in rural Paraguay. 

sinjin-avatar.thumbnail.JPGBY ST. JOHN BARNED-SMITH The thing that surprised me most was how long it took for it to die. The squealing had already started when I got there. Teofilo had collared his 4-month-old-pig with an old piece of cord, and was in the process of pinioning it to the ground with Ramon, my floppy-haired, 19-year-old neighbor. He probably would have kept if for longer, but it has started eating his chickens’ broods, and really, who needs an excuse to eat pig? I spent the first few minutes getting in people’s way. Eventually, however, Ramon sat on the pig’s shoulders, his hands locking the creature’s snout to the ground. I sat on the pig’s middle, and Teofilo immobilized its legs. Then Teofilo handed me a knife, a cheap, but nasty looking curved piece of work. The pig squirmed and squealed, and I could see the whites of its eyes. I passed the knife to Ramon and said something like, “vos – no quiero.” (You – I don’t want to) And so Ramon stabbed the thing in its chest and twisted it around a bit to give the blood some time to drain out. “Tiene que sangrar, o el carne no sirve,” Teofilo told me later. (Basically, “The blood has to drain, or the meat won’t serve [for eating].”) But perhaps Ramon hadn’t stabbed hard enough – the pig continued to squeal and kick. It felt very much alive, very much afraid, and not at all interested in dying. Perhaps Ramon hadn’t hit the actual heart – Teofilo and I both had to stab it before it finally stopped kicking and screaming. MORE

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