Last week, we were working in the office and I heard a strange, high-pitched sound from near my feet... almost like a cat crying. I looked down.... nothing. Heard the sound again. Man, that's wierd. It was definitely like a kitten's cry. Checked around my feet some more and finally saw it, a tiny little grey tabby kitten with the pinched-eye look you typically see in cats here that indicates malnourishment. It must have wandered in through the cracked door of the office, from who knows where… there are no houses that are what I would consider within walking distance for such a tiny animal. I reached down to pet it and it responded immediately, showing no fear and reaching out to rub up against my hand. As soon as it got the idea that I was going to pet it, it started crying more and kept it up as long as I wasn't touching it. Finally I pulled the noisy little ball of fur onto my lap and resumed working.
I haven’t had any pets here and didn’t have any plans to get one. They’re trouble to maintain, and I don’t have the patience to put up with ¨accidents¨ in my house and destroyed personal items for long enough to train them. Plus, pets are always a form of roulette… sometimes you get a really great one, and sometimes you get an animal that appears to be possessed by Lucifer himself, like several cats we’ve had. So I was just hanging out with this stray kitten for a little bit while I worked, but the darn thing took to me so readily that by the end of the day it was desperate anytime it wasn’t in my lap. What was I going to do? Leave it there to get eaten by a stray dog? So I stuffed it in my messenger bag and took it home. That night I fed it a little cheese and by bedtime I already wholeheartedly regretted my decision to take it home because it was the noisiest cat I had ever seen. Anytime it wasn’t in my lap, it cried. It cried and cried and cried some more. After I went to bed, it kept up the wailing for about half an hour before finally quieting down.
The next day I fed it again and left it in the house with a plastic pail full of sand, not knowing what else to do…. When I got home, three objects in the house were peed upon, two of which luckily were sheets of plastic but the third was my bed. Little fucker managed to get my pillowcase, sheet, cover, and a spot of the foam mattress in one shot. Since I got home late, I had to sleep in the hammock with a sleeping bag over me, rebuffing attempts by the kitten to climb in with me all night long in a state of half-consciousness.
The next morning was Sunday. I was planning on feeding the wretched animal to Isaí’s carnivorous dog, Tigre, but got sidetracked with cleaning up my sheets first and then I went on to sweep out the house. While I was doing my bedroom, the kitten suddenly got a bee in its bonnet to crawl behind my bookshelf. It was back there for all of three seconds, and then suddenly emerged holding a mouse that, I am barely exaggerating here, was 2/3 as big as the cat was. It stopped kicking in another couple seconds, its neck snapped. I was amazed, considering the kitten looked like it had passed the point of being old enough to eat solid food maybe three days previous (although I think its tiny size fooled me; it was probably due more to malnutrition than age). At that point I decided she could stay (Pretty sure it's a female), although she’s still in the red for those sheets. I haven't named her yet and don't really plan to.
So today I have to pick up some cat food and figure out a better litterbox arrangement while I'm in Choluteca, recovering from the massive amounts of food I ingested yesterday. Soooo good! We had a Thanksgiving feast at the house of Levi and Megan, two volunteer friends in Choluteca. It was much smaller than last year in San Marcos de Colón, but nice... and all the important food items were there: Yams (yes!!!), pumpkin pie, mashed potatos, squash, and a turkey.... sort of. I was the dude this year who brought the turkey, which sort of made me feel proud at first but over the course of yesterday that feeling slowly evaporated in a tepid wash of disappointment about the quality of the bird. I need to learn how to judge a turkey while it's alive.
What happened was, I heard a woman talking the other day in Agua Fría that she had a turkey she wanted to sell to someone who was supposedly going to breed them. Cool, I siezed the opportunity to cut into the conversation and said that if she didn't sell it to the other person first, I would buy it to eat for Thanksgiving. A few days ago, a local guy came to my house to tell me that they would bring the turkey to my house if I was interested in buying it. I hadn't heard back from my friends in Choluteca at that point so I couldn't commit to anything because I didn't know if we had an oven or not. They text-messaged me that same evening, so the next day I just walked over to the guy's house and bought the turkey - he wanted 350 lempiras for it, I offered 300, and he agreed to it without more argument. That should have been my first sign of trouble. Well, also and the fact that he told me it was two years old. It looked pretty big anyhow. All those feathers do that.
I took it to a neighbor's house and said I'd pay her some money if she would kill, pluck, and clean the turkey since I don't really trust myself to do that right. She was agreeable, and I went to Agua Fría right away to see about getting some freezer space reserved to store it in. That was Wednesday, so the very next day in the morning I took the now-frozen turkey out and hopped on the 6:30 bus to Choluteca to start cooking early.
When I finally took the turkey out of the plastic bags it had been wrapped in, I began to sense that something was wrong. Where was the breast? It looked like a ribcage with legs stuck on it. Well, whatever. We poked some holes in the sinew and put in garlic cloves, rubbed some spices on it, and stuck it in the oven. It was done in less than two hours and came out smelling awesome. The I tried to carve it, and there was nothing to carve. Most chickens literally have more breast meat than this stupid turkey did. It had some leg and thigh meat, but it was like tough beef. Ripping the bones apart and then trying to pick what meat there was off them was more effective than using a knife. Eating it was like chewing meat-flavored gum.
I apologized to my friends, but they all praised the turkey anyways despite the fact that it was like some kind of cruel joke. We had a good time visiting and playing Boggle. A lady from one of the spanish NGOs in town came over, and so did a JICA volunteer (the Japanese equivalent of the peace corps) so we even had some diversity. It was funny talking to a Japanese girl in Spanish, you could really hear the difference in her accent.
Going to take that turkey home before I catch the bus and make soup out of it hehe. Happy thanksgiving everyone.