Monday, October 6, 2014

Egypt, part two: sacrifice, Luxor arrival

My posts were delayed a day due to a stupid migraine. I'm feeling better today, albeit unreasonably cranky. You'll have that. Thankfully the mood is clearing, a silly fog.

Yesterday J and I watched his neighbor sacrifice their ram for Eid Al-Ahda. This was a fascinating process. I thought I would share a few photos(the procedure was surprisingly not a gorey one, at least by my personal standards). Be forewarned there is just a bit of blood though(from a distance).

A young boy appeared beforehand(the owner's son, I presume) and alternated between yelling at the ram/swinging things at it and feeding him stalks of grass. A complicated relationship, surely. 

Soon the rest of the family appeared, along with the butcher and his assistant. Judging from his bloody smock, he had been a busy man for the morning and afternoon. In the picture below, the butcher is the bald man in stained attire. To me, he was the perfect image of butchery--hair around the ears, rotund body, smooth movements that spoke of great skill, something I could tell even from a few floors above. J and I watched from the giant window in his study as one man handed cigarettes to the others. The butcher accepted one as well, taking his time to smoke it before the kill.

The butcher sliced the ram's throat in two clean motions, and that was that.

Not pictured:the ram taking his sweet time in dying, kicking at the men when they tried to get close to untie him. Also not pictured: the patriarch of the family kneeling to drink blood from the back leg. The butcher also took a healthy pull, and I wondered if he had been taking gulps of blood all day. Also not pictured: the butcher lopping off the ram's feet and tossing the to the side. When he did this, the semi-circle of children watching intently jumped back as one unit. One little girl inched her sandaled foot out to tap the tiny hoof. 

I was fascinated by the skinning process. The butcher sharpened a wide, short cleaver and received a few buckets of water. The water was used to douse the blade and the next line of fur to be separated from the flesh. Between the water and butcher's skill, the fur was removed rather quickly, in one whole piece. No blood was shed in this particular process(the one ribbon of it pictured above was from the initial throat cut).

The carcass was then hung and meat was expertly sectioned off--again, almost no blood shed in this process, the organs strangely neat and compartmentalized within the animal. 

That night, Patrick invited us over for a drink before the three of us went to dinner. We sat on the balcony for a round of gin and tonics before heading out for Italian food.

Which brings us to yesterday, which I spent almost all of asleep or laying down with eyes shut under a cool rag. Migraines are truly the worst.

I felt better this morning in time for our flight to Luxor(thank goodness). The flight was maybe an hour, uneventful. We were the only ones on the shuttle bus to our hotel, which felt kind of hilarious and a bit posh. We were offered a cold towel scented with peppermint and bottled water. Our hotel itself is gorgeous with a pool and a gym that looks right out onto the Nile. I snapped this photo between reps this afternoon:

And this is what's happening as I type this--a beautiful sunset(fairly early due to the mountains across the bank). Taken from our room's balcony:

More soon. Tomorrow I think J and I are going to make our way to the other bank to explore some ruins. 

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