Tuesday, June 4, 2013


As I write this, the sun is finally showing its face for an extended period of time for the first time in a nearly a week. It makes a really pleasant change as the past week has been the first time that I've ever experienced tropical rain (we never really got storms that bad when I was working in the Pilbara), and I've got to say that it can be pretty epic. Imagine the most torrential downpour that you've ever experienced in Perth, then multiply both its intensity and duration. Several days in a row I needed to put my shoes in the clothes dryer after getting home from work...

One of the biggest issues that the rain caused as well was a real disruption of the cake sale that had been planned for Wednesday last week, to raise funds for the shelter. Steffi, Lindsay and Danielle had planned a whole stall set up thing, as well as cruising around town in a van selling the cakes, as well as dropping off cakes to people who'd bought tickets previously. Unfortunately it rained all day on Wednesday, meaning that the stall idea went totally out of the window and it was nigh-on impossible to sell cakes to passers-by on the streets as everyone who was out and walking had only one thing on their mind: getting where they were going as quickly and dryly as possible.

I was on duty at the shelter to keep an eye on things while the girls tried to sort out the cakes, and I made it my duty to boost morale by reminding that their day could be going a whole lot worse...

Which leads me to my next point/the other significant event that was occurring that day, the culling of some of the shelter's chickens. They're actually know as 'broilers' apparently, which I guess gives some indication of their prospects in life. If you're named after a method of cooking, you probably don't have a lot of hope. Thankfully I didn't have to to take part in the actual killing/plucking/de-gutting however the task that was designated to me was the skinning of the chicken's feet.

Now I have to admit that his was a new task for me, I didn't even realise that chicken's feet needed to be skinned before consumption (although to be honest my knowledge about chicken's feet both culinarily and biologically is quite limited). I will say that it was definitely an experience however. The hardest bit was probably getting the skin off of the actual leg, you literally had to scrape and scrape with your fingernail to remove the outer coating(?), although once you got down to the toes it was definitely a lot easier. I would also like to point out that preceding sentence was one that I never thought I would need to write. Ever.

But to return to the cake sale, my motivational techniques for uplifting the girl's spirits were thus, repeated reassurance that "I know today is hard, but there are definitely some chickens out there that are having a way worse day than you guys."

Jokes aside it did make me think a fair bit. Ever since seeing a few scenes in the films Baraka and Samsara that dealt with chickens and chicken factories I've been questioning whether or not I want to subscribe to that industry. Certainly the small chicken coop that is run by a homeless shelter to provide food and some funding is a different kettle of fish, but even seeing the chickens themselves that are used, they don't really look like normal chickens compared to the egg laying ones. If I'm honest with myself I don't think I bring myself to join in on the culling of the chickens. So I don't know, I guess I've got to do a bit of soul-searching, but in the end I suppose there's already been a bit of that on this trip so a bit more probably won't hurt.

It's also starting to hit home that I'm going to be finishing up here pretty soon. I've booked some accommodation for Negril for next Saturday (at a guest house that includes it's own clothing-optional beach) and from there I'm going to spend 10 days or so travelling around the parts of Jamaica I haven't been yet, which basically means that this is my second-last week at the shelter. That said, I've still got a lot to look forward to over the next few months so I think that will temper my sadness at leaving a bit.

I think that's it for now, I'll leave on an album that I've been listening to and enjoying/absolutely loving over the past few days so as not to end on a sad note. If you don't know about the Dub Side of the Moon, get to know....

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