Friday, April 8, 2011

Let’s Talk About Reptiles

Our host family consists of a “mom” and “dad” only, no kids – in the house, that is. But lots of pickni (children) live all around and come to visit frequently. More about them layta.

Our house is up on stilts, with 5 rooms and a bathroom. We are really lucky because of all the amenities – running water (and who needs hot water anyway? It’s too hot to do anything but take a cool shower.), indoor FLUSHING toilet, electricity and a big TV, washing machine with a spinner! Our room is spacious, with a closet and drawers, and lots of spots to hang things. And they give us the fan every night. Sometimes I actually get a little chilled in the early morning.

Miss Sala, our mom, is the assistant principal at the same school where we have our community-based training. She is on a leave right now for five months. In Belize, if you teach for nine years, you can apply for a leave – PAID leave. Her husband, Kent, is also a teacher, fourth grade at a different school in the next village, Teakettle.

Miss Sala is a really good cook, and she’s paid lots of attention to our needs and wishes, and is NOT pushing too much food on us.  We had heard that most host moms serve huge portions and lots of beans, rice, potatoes, with a meat and a little lettuce and tomato salad. Our meals include some of those starches, and also LOTs of vegetables and fruits.

Speshal Dinna: We arrived Friday evening and sat around getting acquainted for quite a while. Kent came in later carrying something over his shoulder.
“Ever seen one a’these?” he said. He held up this trussed up strange-looking animal with a really long tail.
Steve said, “Is that a gibnut?” We had heard about gibnuts earlier in the week. It’s a kind of rodent, considered a delicacy. They served it to Queen Elizabeth when she visited here.
“No, mon! It’s an iguana. We’ll have it for dinner Sunday night! I got a great deal on it!” And he just kind of laid it down over in the corner of the kitchen with its head facing the wall, tail sticking out into the room. Its two front legs were pulled up and tied behind its back; likewise its two back legs. With the tail, it was probably 3-3 ½ feet long.
“And it’s got eggs!” Apparently, that’s the only kind of iguana you should eat. Nobody cares about the male iguana. They want the female to get the eggs to cook and eat along with the animal.

Now I watched that darn lizard all evening, and it was completely still, except for its eyes. When I went to bed, I checked it again, still no movement. I was satisfied that its presence was NOT going to intimidate me.

Two o’clock-ish. Time to get up for a pee. Flashlight in hand. Check the lizard – OOH, the tail had slid all the way to the side, but otherwise no difference in position.

Six-thirty. Steve and I get up to take a walk while it’s still cool. I open the door. You guessed it, the iguana was right outside the door waiting for me.  Really! Tried to keep quiet so our host parents could sleep longer. Silent scream, and a plea to Steve for assistance. We jumped over it (we had heard that the tail kinda hurts if it hits your skin). Went for our walk. When we got back, they had moved it back to its home against the wall.

Well, not to drag out this story any longer – Sunday morning, Kent chopped off its head, and was field dressing it when we came back from our Sunday walk. Steve didn’t want to have anything to do with it. For whatever absurd reason, I was curious about it. I got a biology lesson as he took out the long string of eggs and the organs and the scent glands. (Fun fact about iguanas: you can cook and eat it with the scent glands and it tastes pretty good. But you’ll fart the whole next day.) Kent finished up by cutting up the carcass to be marinated and cooked.

So you’re wondering how it tasted? Deeelish! Miss Sala simmered the meat in a pressure cooker for a long time with onions and garlic and lots of spices. We had to work a little to pull out all the little bones, but the meat was tender as could be – maybe a little like chicken consistency, not stringy at all, but the flavor (with all of the luscious gravy) was closer to pork. Now the eggs were not for me OR Steve. The outer covering was very tough to chew through, and the inside was like solid boiled egg yolk. We ate it over rice. With watermelon juice to drink :--)

One final word about geckos: We have our own reality show here with the little geckos that live up high. Each night three to six of them hang out on the ceiling around the fluorescent light in the kitchen, waiting for some unsuspecting moth to flit or flutter by. I’m telling you, those guys are FAST with that little tongue! And they eat moths of a size you wouldn’t think would fit inside ‘em, just suck the moth right down. Thought maybe they have a jaw like a boa constrictor. If I could Google it, I would.

Anyway, with the entertainment that we've had far, I think it's gonna be pretty tough to go back to Law and Order reruns.


Karen said...

I'm glad I'm a vegetarian :) Thanks for the news! I think about you guys every day! --Karen Lou

e.hutton said...

What a great post! You made me hungry! I've had snake and alligator, but I've never had iguana.

It looks like your host is taking really good care of you. I saw some goats in the yard. Are they just milk and cheese or do they eat goat too? I really like goat. Cooked or BBQ correctly it is fantastic.

I'm blown away with the amenities; expecially the electric power. Does it stay on 'all' the time? Some places I've been losing power every day was just normal.

Sounds like being a teacher is a well respected position there. You guys are so lucky to have a great host family.

Take care and keep the posts coming! I really enjoyed this one! It was great!

Anonymous said...

Soooo very good to read your new postings, Cathy! Sounds like you've really got a nice sponsor family; and your digs' ain't so bad, either ;-) You go girl... eatting iguana. Hmmm... I don't know....I may be with Steve on that one. Toni

Jim Weaver said...

Oh, Yes. It is an adventure. Thanks for the story.

Rebecca Clay Haynes said...

Love it, love it! Great writing, great eating. You two are my heroes! R.