Can food get worse?
It had been 5 hard days, not much to eat. The town of Bikapeka laid ahead, a chance of food. The recent rain had left the Zebu Chariot track a muddy swamp, shin deep leading into town. As usual the village looked quaint from a distance, but as I got closer, reality unfolded. The usual, unkept unmaintained, a town o the brink of total collapse, but there was a difference, the deeper that I travelled into the central north, so I have noticed the demise of humanity, poverty and desperation on the faces of the folk. One sees this with the collapse of self respect, dirty dishevelled children and adults just getting through the day because that is all that they have left to do.
Oxcarts littered the road parked at all angles, just dropped in the mud and squalor , children scampered around and people stared aimlessly out of the door ways of ramshackle buildings. A bent security boom stood half way open twisting into the sky, two soldiers sat on the top balcony of an old half collapsed building cooking food. Slowly I squelched up the main road, the sour stench of the town swirling in the humid 35% temp. Ahead I finally saw the sigh I was looking for, ‘Hotely’.
In I went, all that I was met by was a big black swarm of huge flies. It felt as if someone had thrown a few handfuls of raisins at me as the made for the door and in any direction, just to get out of my way. I heard a noise on the floor, looking down I saw the figure of a plum old woman detaching herself from the grime on the floor. Up she got and grunted at me, a half toothless splatter of words punctuated with spray hit me. “Salama” I greeted and ordered the meal of the day. She sauntered off through a curtain, into the back room, the whole floor seemed to lift as the cloud of flies became airborne and for the first time the pots became visible.
A minute later dinner was served, the normal 500 gram pile of rice and accompanied by a bowl of chunky gristle in a sauce. I pointed at it questioning its origin. The old crow stuck out her tongue and pointed to it – great, ox tongue and in I went.
After placing 11 flies round the rim of the bowl from the sauce I began to eat, using the breathe out technique, I was managing to get it down with every second swallow, but what puzzled me was the big splinters of bone with the tongue, basically eyes closed, I picked up pieces of the tongue and just ate. Then crunch a brain shattering pain went through my teeth as I hit something hard. I put my fingers in my mouth, and pulled out a rather large tooth. Shit, had I broken another, did a quick search. No not one of mine.
I then looked up at the old half toothless lady and thought the worst, oh no, had she tasted the meat and one of her last teeth fell out and into the pot. I just wanted to throw up. I dug my spoon into the bowl to find out more, there lay the answer, it was not just tongue, but smashed jawbone as well, and another big molar stared at me from the bottom of my bowl.