• RH

Chickens And Incarnation

Another visit to the evacuation camp in Bunutan. This time together with our friend Derk and his resort manager Putu. Derk is the owner of the highest rated restaurant on the coast, part of a small but fine resort in Bunutan.

Only a few 'evakuasi' are staying in the camp. Mostly women with their children. Most men have returned to their houses at the foot of Mount Agung to feed the cattle and work the fields. In the evening some of them come back to the camp. The head of the village is on the ground and answers patiently and extensively our questions. We are very interested in whether there is an official permit to visit the houses in the danger zone. Thanks to the translation provided by Putu, we learn that young and strong men are allowed to stay in the danger zone during the day. In the event of a sudden eruption, they could flee with their motorbikes or run away from the lava. They do not want to know anything about pyroclastic flows or lahars, avalanche-like ash streams that can fly at over 200 km/h and destroy everything in their path. Balinese are born optimists and, in worse cases, fatalists.

Our question about the most important things that are needed in the camp is answered only after the third start. 'Ayam', chicken would be very welcome. Derk and I quickly decide to visit a chicken farm and provide the camp with chicken meat. The ride to the edge of the red zone takes about 20 minutes. Quickly we agree with the owner on the price of 10 chickens: 35,000 rupiah, about 2.60 Swiss francs per kilo, plucked. He points to some white, strong chickens, which are huddled in a corner of the large free range open barn, as if they were expecting their fate. They do not resist when the owner puts ten of them in a basket.

In Bali all animals are kosher butchered. We, on the other hand, would cut off the head of a chicken after appropriate anesthesia to kill it painlessly and without stress. The Balinese do not do this because of their belief in reincarnation. Sounds logical, because without head no rebirth. We want to spare ourselves the horrible sight of slaughtering the chickens and stretch our legs in an adjacent duck farm. Half an hour later, the deplorable chickens, plucked, but otherwise in fleshly integrity and weighing 21 kilograms, are lying in a plastic tub, ready to be delivered to the camp in Bunutan.

There, the refrigerator is freed from all vegetables to make room for the chickens. Today's lesson in Balinese culture: The Balinese honor their ancestors, yet they prefer chicken to vegetables.