Friday, March 14, 2008

Chicken did the trick.

I finally got my prized horse ride on the beach. It wasn't quite what I wanted, but it did happen. The guy I had booked with the night before had not followed through with the booking so in the morning when I showed up the horses were not there. By the time the guys were called and the horses saddled, I had waited and waited and watched my five hour ride slowly disentigrate into a two hour one. The horses finallychucklin arrived. They were quite underwieght, ill equipped and trained by whooping and hollering cowboys. I went anyway. The horses had some life in them and we were able to canter along the beach, dodge in and out of the waves and then move up a small pass to a mountain village. I was a bit apprehensive about the village visit because the S. African natives are not known to be friendly nor welcome more whites into their lives. The guides and I though made the scheduled stop at a traditional village house where I was offered a type of beer made of corn to drink. The women of the village passed a pitcher to me, the two guides that were with me and several villagers that were hanging around. The beer was awful, I couldn't drink it but they seemed to love it and drank three pitchers among them. It was a brillant day. We were on top of a mountain, the wind was blowing through the tall green grass, the horses were grazing, the sea spread before us as far as the eye could see and mountain farmland spread out behind us. Among this beauty we sat strangely quiet and disconnected. The villagers doing their obligatory offering of beer and entertainment and me sitting there not able to drink their beer. The guides and I had to wait some more time to let the horses rest and while we waited I noticed some chickens walking around. I asked one of the horseman if they could catch one of the chickens for me. They chuckled and said "no". I waited for a bit and asked again explaining that if they could catch a chicken for me I could show them some chicken tricks. He said to me "these chickens aren't trained". I tried to explain that any chicken could do these tricks, but he just smiled. He took some newspaper from his pocket and tore a small square away, filled it with tobbacco and rolled a cigarette. He smoked. I looked around. I tried again. I told the guide I was serious about the chicken tricks and asked if he could get me a chicken. He answered that we didn't have time to train chickens. I persisted ,telling him that the chickens could do these tricks without training. He made a face, said something to one of the women in the houses and then looked at me and said " there is one in her house over there". I went into the small round hut , waited for my eyes to adjust to the dark, and found the chicken. I walked over to it and made a casual grab for the bird, they are usually easy to grab with one hand on its back and partially wrapped around its front. As soon as I grabbed it though, it turned on its back, scratched at me, pecked my hand and squaked and screamed. Dust off the dirt floor billowed up from her flapping wings and feathers went flying, as she got away I was left with two in my grasp. I looked at the woman in surprise but she didn't hesitate, she headed the chicken off at the door. I made another grab at the chicken and this time got a leg. More screaming, squaking,pecking, scratching, and beating the floor with her wings, but this time I had her. Man she was wild. Probably had never been touched by a human. It took me a few seconds to get her collected in my hands, but when I did I walked outside to a collecting crowd. I pushed the chickens head under her wing and rocked her through the air between my legs as if she were on a swing. I let go of her and she rested in my hands in a deep sleep. The women and the two horse guys looked at each other. I smiled. They twisted their mouths around still looking at each other and then looked at the chiken. I put my index finger up to indicate there was more to come and woke the chicken. She made a loud crow and shook herself. I grabbed a small sharp rock and walked over to a bare spot that was hard packed earth, void of grass and near the center of the crowd. I put her on the ground, held her down firmly and stretched her head out and down to the ground. I started with the rock at the point of her beak and quickly drew a line in the dirt away from her head. Her eyes locked onto the line. I lifted my hands from her back and walked away. The chicken didn't move. Everyone stared at the chicken. Then they looked at one another and started laughing and mimmicing the chicken's outstretched neck. They clapped their hands, shook their heads and laughed a bit more. I snatched up the chicken and put my index finger up indicating there was more and I smiled. They gathered around a little closer. I turned the chicken on her back and laid her on the ground. I waited for her to relax and as she did her legs stretched out into little 'L' shapes and her beak came down to rest on her breast. I let go of her and danced a little jig and as I did her head followed my every move. By now the people were in stitches. They had their hands stretched out like her legs and their own heads tucked into their chests. They were laughing and slapping each other on the back. I was laughing with them. I got the chicken up and let her go and she took off with an indignant shake of her tail feathers. People were still laughing. When we got on the horses to go the villagers came over and waved goodbyes as I did to them. I smiled as I left. The chicken did the trick.

3 comments:

cindylist said...

Oh my gawd! That village will be talking about "The Chicken Whisperer" for centuries to come! How does it feel to have a whole chapter to yourself in another culture's mythology?

Anonymous said...

Hey Tracy,
They may want to name you chief of their village! Sorry your ride wasn't what you wanted but there is more time left. Italy has alot of coastline too! I am sharing your blog with chip who has been visiting as his son is playing baseball for OSU in Bradenton & Sarasota for the next week & Aunt Jan who asked if you were going to write about your travels! Be safe & have a great time!!
Love, Mom

ems365 said...

I love it!! I want to send that video to Ammerica's Funniest Videos (hey, you could have been out west, right?) so we can get you your $100K prize!! : )

elaine