Murder for Sustenance: A PCV’s Guide to Death and Nutrition

In season: oranges, grapefruit, mandarins, clementines, stomach aches (amongst other issues) from too much citrus

Barrio San Miguel, Yguazu, Alto Paraná

Today I’m sitting on Ruby’s patio. I’m watching traffic on the Ruta head toward Ciudad del Este, listening to the roar of motos speeding through her neighborhood on their way back from work. Ruby lives in a barrio of Yguazu, a large town in Alto Paraná originally settled by Japanese immigrants. It’s such an amazingly diverse site: she can buy imported Japanese products from her cooperative grocery store, she drinks Brazilian style mate with Brazilian señoras, and even has a cheese factory run by a Swiss man who makes the best Gruyere that may or may not be coming home with me. It amazes me how different our sites are, how much more access she has to things, the different projects she does in site, compared to my campo lifestyle and projects, even though we’re both Environmental Conservation volunteers who came in at the same time. Ruby does mainly school work, teaching English, creating and maintaining a school garden, and teaching about the importance of waste management and recycling. I do agricultural focused projects: soil conservation, organic gardening, and reforestation efforts by means of agroforestry. Same G, same sector, same country, same training, only 100 miles apart, entirely different services. Pretty crazy.
Last weekend, Chara and I had a few of our friends come down to see our crazy campo lifestyle. Hannah, Ruby, Alyssa, Donovan, and Mya came down (accompanied by Luna, Mya’s spoiled weiner dog), took the three hour bumpy bus ride from Encarnación, and we all piled into my tiny one room shack. Due to my lack of access to food products, or really anything, we had the bright idea to ask my family for a chicken to kill to make tacos (I prebought everything else). Easy. Here’s a chicken. You all know how to kill it right? Yeah sure we do, you just snap the neck. Alyssa tried first. Chicken played dead, let its neck go limp and then flipped out and rose from the dead when she let go. Chara next. Nothing. Live chicken. Alyssa again. Still alive, more irritated. Chara again. Now we just had an aggravated hen who’s puny coop-dominated life was flashing before its eyes. So the last ditch effort was to put its head under a broom on the ground and yank. Hey it worked! Now we had a dead, delicious, spicy taco chicken, who’s foot is still hanging from my patio roof as a testament to the fact that Peace Corps volunteers love murder for sustenance. Night 2: Chara’s house. Hey let’s kill a duck tonight! Easy. Here’s a duck. You know how to kill it right? Sure it’s just like a chicken! Donovan first. Something ripped. Still not dead. Try again. Definitely a sound. Still not dead, more aggravated than the chicken ever was. Try again. More ripping sounds. Not dead. Chara’s turn. Let’s just kill it like the chicken. Get out the broom! Try again. RIIIIP. Blood. Head in one hand. Body in the other. Chara freaking out. Hannah and I somehow end up five steps backward. Donovan calming down Chara. Duck flapping its wings and convulsing as its stubby neck wiggles around. Ruby and Mya yelling because we’re yelling and everything sinks into chaos. Mmmm roast duck. The duck foot still hangs from Chara’s patio roof as a testament that sometimes things go wrong. And bloody.

Beyond having visitors, I’ve devoted myself to finishing my garden. The fence is up, made from intertwined branches, the grass is hoed away, the beds are double dug to give the roots more room to grow and the seeds are sown. Now all that’s left is watering and weeding and praying that my green thumb doesn’t get ripped off and the plants actually pop up. This is my model garden to show my señoras and I’d really appreciate it if I actually looked credible. And had access to vegetables.

But today I’m sitting on Ruby’s patio. We had a birthday party for Donovan in his site in Caaguazu (we refrained from ripping the head off of anything for this one) and I’m headed back towards site. May looks good on the horizon, but you never know. Things sometimes go pretty wrong.

Dead chicken selfie

Dead chicken selfie

Donovan gives Ruby a helping hand

Donovan gives Ruby a helping hand

Ruby and Alyssa getting toasty in the kitchen

Ruby and Alyssa getting toasty in the kitchen

Chara and the Duck before Chara "butchered" their relationship. Poor Ducky.

Chara and the Duck before Chara “butchered” their relationship. Poor Ducky.

Hannah, Donovan, Chara, Duck, and the Duck's Head pose post-neck ripping

Hannah, Donovan, Chara, Duck, and the Duck’s Head pose post-neck ripping


3 thoughts on “Murder for Sustenance: A PCV’s Guide to Death and Nutrition

  1. Yikes! Why didn’t you use an axe? Grandma put two nails sidebyside into a stump, just wide enough between them for a chicken’s neck to fit. Then Whack. Dead chicken.


  2. Take Susie’s advice for next time you kill any kind of bird! Good for you to have a good meal! I love your stories!


  3. Reblogged this on Donovan in Paraguay and commented:
    Here’s a post from my fellow G-mate and friend, Chance. He describes some dinner difficulties that we had together plus some fun pictures. I also highly recommend taking a look at the rest of his blog. He is a great writer and posts far more often than I do.


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