Countryside Castrations

The pretty little town in Vinales is easily reached using the hop on hop off open top bus thats stops at various places in the area.  I used it to get in and out of town but also just to sit upstairs for the hour long circuitous journey and enjoy the sights along the road with the horses and carts and the oxen.

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During the day the small cafes are wonderful places to watch the town go by.  They serve small cheese heavy vegetable pizzas some of which have viandas on them.  I thought at first that these might be meat due to the similarity to the French ‘viande’  but found out that viandas was a collective term for seasonal tubers such as plantains, yams or cassava.  Im not sure which ones I had, I was just pleased to have established that the small brown pieces on top were vegetables and not meat.  As a vegetarian this was the most exotic choice in town.  They were tasty enough and pleasant to wash down with the local Bucanero beer.

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 The pretty pastel coloured buildings are the backdrop to the brightly coloured 1950s American cars and the local people shopping and balancing cakes on paper plates on their way home.  Tourists and local people sat around the small square and I was entertained by friendly locals waiting for the bus.One night I took a taxi back into town to visit El Estanco, yet another pizza and pasta place recommended in my guide book.  While I was waiting at the hotel for the taxi I was asked if I would also like to book the return journey.  I had declined wanting to keep my options open but when I saw that the town, bustling by day was dark and almost deserted I changed my mind.  The little restaurant is at the far end of the town and the only two other people were nearly finished.  I listened to the sounds of the insect chorus and of the town and surrounding households winding down for the night.  The pizzas were of the same small thick type I had had a the bars in the centre at lunchtime.  They also serve pasta covered in cheese.  There is (imported) wine even in Vinales, but the Cubans are not wine drinkers so there isnt a large selection.

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 One day I went walking in the countryside.  This didnt seem to be recommended without a guide.  I just wanted to enjoy the sights and sounds of the beautful valley at my own pace and on my own.  At a short walk from the hotel I found the national park office and got some directions.  The lush green valley was stunning and after the initial row of little houses I saw no one other than the same friendly farmer driving his oxen this way and that along the narrow paths between the fields.  After a while he pointed me in the right direction for the end of the path which leads through the valley to the town.  As I looked at his spiritless beasts I couldnt get from my mind a passage in Reinaldo Arenas’ ‘Before Night Falls’ in which he described the cruelties of the countryside whilst growing up in Holguin.  He recounted that to castrate bulls their testicles were stretched over an anvil and the connective tissue and tendons were pounded with a hammer until completely destroyed.  He said that one could tell when this had finally been achieved because the animal’s teeth relaxed.

7 thoughts on “Countryside Castrations

  1. the castration method reported by Arenas is a very barbaric practice, even worse than the notorious red hot metal cups, used in some parts of the world, to which the animal’s scrotum remains attached to..
    if you want a fast and clean procedure for having your ox bellow in falsetto, i would reccommend the following video from the testicle festival in Montana..

    • i know, disgusting…
      the poor guy wasn’t even wearing gloves..
      anyway, distasteful jokes aside, one thousand points to your credit, for the courage to face the crudeness of the footage..
      after all, it is the most shocking images that stick to our minds and give us a bigger determination..
      sorry if i’ve ruined your sleep for a couple of days..

    • This is disgusting. That man is an evil sadistic idiot. That young helpless animal is in agony. Calves cannot scream

  2. Love the people watching and pizzas … as to the more serious part, there’s a limit for me too as to how many images of cruelty I can take and still sleep at night …

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