Carol Bontekoe

This blog has been keeping track of my adventures since 2004. The stories and the adventures have come from my college dorm room to Uganda, Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan, learning Dutch in the Netherlands to living in the wilds of Homer, Alaska. I went back to school in Amsterdam to study Theaterwetenschap (Theatre Science) at University of Amsterdam. And now my adventures as a Fruit Fly, a Sexy Unicorn, and creating a movement with Team Sparkle in Chicago.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Remember that one time we spent two hours chopping sheep butt fat?

I was standing there chopping sheep butt fat, listening to Lydia exclaim, "I'm such a carnivor. I love the smell of meat!", looking out this little rectangular window watching some men take out the guts of a freshly killed sheep. The blood still dripping, the hide just had been taken off, and the head head just been cut off. I was in the kitchen area with the women. A part of Muslim culture(or at least Balkar... I guess it is different by what kind of muslim and where your from etc. etc.) to have a feast and celebrate/morn the loss of a life 52 days after they have passed. Layla's farther-in-law had passed away 52 days ago. Layla is like a second mother to Lydia and I here. We study in her house and when we want to practice our Russian we go and have Chia with her. We offered to help with the preperations with the feast to show some kind of appreciation for her. We aren't actually helpful since we have no idea what should be happening so they gave us the most out of the way task they could. Chopping Sheep butt fat for the Monty. Monty is a really tasty dish here, they are steam dumplings, We chopped up about two sheeps butts worth. We both are pretty tall so our backs were killing both of us because all the counters here are very low. I loved being a part of it, even if I did just chop up butt fat, because I love the sisterhood of working in the kitchen. There were so many women running around taking care of business I got so caught up in my job. When I was done I went to the door and looked out on how the men were preparing. It all looked too much like National Geographic Photos, not my real life. It was cloudy, muddy, and cold. I asked the men if I could come out to their area and observe more closely when curiousity got the best of me. I got to look at the sheep that had just been gutted more closely, and examine the heart, lungs, stomach... all of it. I got to go and sit with two men as they carefully cut the intestines and scraped out the poo(I never would have even thought that that would need to be done). Then I went over and watched as the younger guys took a blow torch and burnt the faces of the sheeps and goat. They also did this too the legs. Then an even younger boy would scrape off the hair. Every part of the animals was being used.Later I got to go to a back room and help prepare monty with a few women. We were eventually told to go out and enjoy the food. It was so weird sitting in a huge room full of women singing muslim prayers in Balkar. The older women sang them from the heart, the younger women had books to refer too. This was the stuff I wanted to see and be apart of. Ten thousand miles from home I could find a community and a place, with barely any language skills and barely being able to chop the butt fat as small as they wanted.