Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tastes like chicken, presumably

Today, on my way into the orphanage, I passed the National Botanical Gardens. In Gabs, finding something (anything!) new to do passes for big excitement. So on my way out of the orphanage, now with fellow volunteers S and C in tow, the three of us decided to make a pit stop and check the place out.

We filled out the guest register. We were the first guests to sign it in several days. The place was pretty much empty. We walked around one trail--not much to see. It was kind of like they'd fenced off a random bit of Gabs and called it a garden. I tried to put a positive spin on it: Look, a bench! Under a tree! But it was pretty boring. Then we climbed up over a hill, and we ran into some people.

(Side note: I've killed four mosquitoes since I started writing this--impressive, eh?)

Come this way, they encouraged us. We followed them to a little hut in a corner of the garden. As we entered the hut, the stench was monstrous. Five or six people were crowded around a table where a dead crocodile was being skinned, gutted, and taken apart. Flies were everywhere.

(Just like our croc, except for bigger and less cut-open.)

The crocodile was upside-down on its back. Its jaws were closed but dark red blood was dripping from the tip of its snout. Actually, there was blood all over the ground. The mood was jovial as everyone stood around laughing and joking.

Apparently, one of the people who works there had shot the croc in the Gaborone Dam three or four weeks earlier, then stuck it in a refrigerator until the day before, when they'd started to saw it into pieces. The skin would be stuffed and made into an exhibit. The meat would probably be eaten but they weren't admitting to it.

There were also large eggs, about 10 of them that they'd found inside the croc's belly. Those would be made into the exhibit as well.

Eventually, we said our goodbyes and headed back out into the garden.


It struck me as we were leaving that the randomness of this encounter reminded me of New York. One of the reasons I like living in New York is that you can't help but stumble upon strange things and into interesting situations. Not so much Gaborone--except for the occasional crocodile carcass.

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