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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Killing in the name of

In sharp contrast with my normal preference, I took a guide to explore the ‘Toradja’ area of Sulawesi. It proved to be an excellent choice. If you ever need a guide: Name: Astro
Telephone: +62 813 42736349
Email: astrotor@yahoo.com

We started the day with a village hidden in the beautiful morning fog.


Things rapidly became more exciting. He brought me to a funeral, where I was the only foreigner. The deceased had died one year ago. And following Toradja tradition, he had been kept in his house for the first months after his death. During this period the family treated him like he was still alive by offering him food, drinks and even talking to him. But now his time had come to depart his family and this was celebrated in a ceremony.

And what a ceremony it was. 27 buffalos were sacrificed together with 127 pigs. Despite that I grew up in the small villages in The Netherlands, I’m inexperienced with seeing animals killed. That changed today. The procedure in the village was simple: cut the throat of the buffalo, wait for it to die and proceed to the next. The person doing the work receives more honor if the animal dies quickly. In practice this meant that it could take anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes for a buffalo to die. There are probably more humane ways to kill a buffalo, but the procedure seemed pretty effective. Still, some buffalos (with their throats already cut) managed to escape the circle of people watching, but none made it further than a couple of meters.

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As soon as the last buffalo was offered, the animals were skinned and the meat was divided over the guests and families that had come to pay their respect to the deceased man.

A quick calculation learnt me that the animals alone had cost over 50.000 euro, an enormous sum in this poor village, where parts still didn’t have electricity. This explains also why it takes so long to bury someone as all close relatives need to contribute to the funeral.

I’ve never seen anything like it. The sheer number of animals and the amount of blood flying around make it very tough to watch. The sharing of the meat among the guests and the efficiency of the killing made it an amazing experience.

Traveling and flexibility

Traveling in South East Asia requires a great deal of flexibility. Take today: after escaping a seriously bad room (trust me, I’ve seen loads of basic rooms, this one was terrible), I suddenly had to adapt to completely new circumstances. The small room in an unremarkable city was replaced by a airy hut at a the edge of a coral reef filled see. The uncountable number of mosquitos in the room were replaced by similar numbers of fish. The noisy neighbors (don’t ask) were substituted by friendly locals.

To the inexperienced traveler this village at (literally) the end of a road would have been a massive shock, resulting in unrest, anxiety or even fear. But not me. I quickly adapted to the 29 degrees water in the ocean. With remarkable grace I ordered some fried bananas and a cold beer and installed myself in a comfy chair with a Philip K. Dick book.

Please folks, don’t try this without adequate supervision.