I was remembering last night one of the reasons this adventure appealed to me so many years ago. Graham and I have sold everything and gone off and traveled a few times during our 20 years together. Unfortunately, what would always end up happening was that we would crave our home and stability.
Now here we are in the Galapagos going off and exploring the island, struggling with our Spanish, tucking into little shops, eating the local food and having everything seem so cool and new and THEN....we get to come back at night to our warm, inviting, comfortable, familiar, ARTEMO! We get to eat our Ol EL Paso Tacos and our Thousand Islands dressing and our Heinz ketchup and watch our MASH and Friends. We get to go HOME each night in paradise. I tell you, I needed a little bit of normal though, a bit of home, after my day at the local butcher.
Cornelia warned me as we were walking to the shop that it wasn't up to our level of cleanliness (and those who know me, know that my level isn't that high!). It was basically a small cement room. There was an old screen door that we came in through. There were two silver top counters, 3 big freezers and 1 ban saw. The butcher was just a guy in a t-shirt and jeans all sweaty running meat through the ban saw. There were two raw chickens on the counter (not refrigerated). There was a tray of ground beef on the counter (not refrigerated but it looked fresh). There was a pile of old shoes on one end of the counter (yes...Old shoes???).
Cornelia speaks really good broken Spanish and adds in sign language where needed. She let the fellow know that we needed alot of meat. We wanted pork, hamburger, steak and chicken. She told him we had our vacuum sealers and we would like to seal the meat as he cuts it and then leave it in one of his 3 freezers for a few days. He was happy for the business and motioned for us to push the shoes aside and unplug the old TV hanging from the wall and set up the vacuum sealers. For the next two hours Cornelia and I cut bags, sealed bags, filled bags and vacuum sealed bags as many of the towns folk came in to see the show and get their daily meat needs. Everyone thought the sealers were very cool. They were interested in how long our meat would last us on our boats.
The butcher didn't have any wash clothes for wiping the counter clean. He didn't where any gloves. He hacked up the raw chickens on the counter and I put the pieces (with my bare hands) in the bags. I was going to leave the backs and such but he insisted that I take them for soup. When we moved onto pork, he opened the freezer behind him and you could see all these different hunks of meat (not wrapped or in bags) and he grabbed out a huge thing of pork ....maybe a leg? He then ran it through the ban saw for us and the meat went directly onto the same counter as the chicken did and the steak before that.
Once we were finished I asked him if he had someplace where I could wash my hands. He led me behind the counter to this little dirty closet where there was a toilet bowl with no seat on it and no back part, a half a big garbage can with water in it and a milk jug for scooping water out, a floor wash bucket that was empty, a small little bucket next to it that was empty and a bag of what looked like powdered laundry detergent. I stood there very confused and then decided that since the milk jug looked dirty and was floating in the garbage can that I would just stick my hands in there. He came racing in behind me saying, "no, no, no". He had me pour some of the powder into the small bucket and then put some in my hands. He then had me hold my hands over the wash bucket and he scooped water and poured it over my hands? I just wanted to get the heck out of there but believe me it took quite a while to understand what the heck he wanted me to do! I am sure he was thinking to himself....crazy tourist! All of my meat came to a grand total of 34 dollars but I tell you the experience itself was worth so much more.
ps...I forgot to mention that he also sells Avon....yup, AVON!