Sitting on a filthy butcher’s table with legs spread open, a toddler drinks fresh cow blood out of a plastic cup. Our eyes meet, as he finishes a gulp, and his face breaks into a grin while blood dribbles out of the corners of his mouth and adds to the Pollock-like splatter of drying blood on his shirt.
“That is the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen”, I tell Marina.
The vampire boy was just one of the interesting sites we witnessed at the Latacunga market, which we crossed on the way to Lake Quilotoa after sleeping among volcanoes the night before. Although the large produce market, containing a myriad of colourful fruit from the coast along with vegetables from the mainland was interesting, it was the meat market that we found particularly alluring.
In North America, we’re used to seeing our meat completely separated from the animal to which it belongs. For all I know, chicken breasts, salmon steaks, and pork chops were grown on a tree. It is certainly easier on the conscience to separate the grilled chicken breast on my plate from the fuzzy, sometimes obnoxious and funny looking animal which looks absolutely ridiculous whilst running.
Not so in Ecuador.
If you want to purchase some pork, you better have the guts to stare into the eyes of one of the decapitated pig heads on the counter. Not only are these pig heads massive, many of them exhibit disturbing expressions; mouths open in a grin, tongues sticking out through the crooked teeth, almost mocking you.
The beef section was equally interesting.
Of course there were a few cow heads hanging around to see how their remains are sold off.
There were also a few calf fetuses on sale.
These are sort of like the fetuses you saw in high-school science class. Unfortunately, these were not in a jar of formaldehyde, but simply laid across a cold metal table right beside the uterus which once contained them.
One calf fetus goes for $15, and makes an excellent soup, according to the woman at the counter.
Right after posing for the picture with the calf fetuses, I noticed the sound of flesh and bones being decimated at the butchering station in the corner of the market. Three individuals worked in tandem, almost like an assembly line, smashing open the heads of cows and then separating the contents therein.
And off to lunch we went!
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