Thursday, May 29, 2008

Family tragedy in Boa Esperança

While enjoying our raucous weekend hiking, swimming, singing and drinking with friends in Boa Esperança we were in immediate proximity to a family mourning the loss of one of their most precious assets. In a little house a few doors down the road from where we were staying was a family holding vigil over their dying bull.

We had seen the eldest son walking the enormous animal from their yard to a grassy area in the shade, hoping it would eat. It looked sluggish, even to my untrained eye. The huge black animal looked like it was wading through mud even on the clean dirt road.

A conversation with the father revealed they feared the worst. Outside of their home, the bull was certainly the most valuable of family resources. They had spent nearly R$500 with the vet to try and save it. Money they surely did not have to spare except in an emergency. But still they were unclear of what ailed the giant and if it would even live through the night.

Three generations of this family stood around the yard in silence, arms crossed, fearing what was to be the inevitable. I felt conspicuous in our weekend revelry within earshot of this worried family. They were likely recalling the advantages the bull had brought them, and fearing the absence of its contributions in the future. This family was about to shift into precarious mode.

The next morning the shy son we had seen walking the bull confirmed it had died. All was quiet at their house. Because they did not know what had caused the animal to die, they were not able to consume or sell its meat. It was to be buried.

“Where do you bury a massive bull?” I asked Luiz. Without missing a beat he replied “Very close to where it died.”

[Neither of the animals pictured are the (more enormous) one referred to in this post. I just couldn't photograph the boy and the bull, so these guys were photographed further down the road.]

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