We see the world as we are, not necessarily as it is. – Mark Ambrose
Sitting in the STEP course, we were shown a picture of a pig and asked what we associated with it. The Americans and Canadians assisting with the course responded- farm, bacon, Babe the movie. However, the Papua New Guineans responded- brideprice, compensation, money/wealth, food/fat and markets.
While I was in the village I would often take a walk and end up visiting with Lucy (little Adoniya’s mother) in her haus kuk. One morning she was boiling a very full pot of food and she told me it was for her pig. I was pleasantly surprised because many nationals just let their pigs forage for food. A few days later I visited again and once more she was boiling kaikai bilong pik (food for the pig). It seemed to me that this pig was living the good life- a shelter over its head and a semi-consistent supply of food. A few days before we left, I went for a walk again and visited Lucy. I noticed the pot boiling away over the fire and just assumed that it was for the pig. After being asked if ate pig, I noticed the distinct smell of cooked pig wafting through the haus kuk. The boiling pot wasn’t food for the pig, it was the pig. Evidently Lucy had decided the night before to butcher it because she felt like eating meat. It smelled pretty good so I accepted the offer of a piece of meat and some kaukau. While I enjoyed my food I got to observe once more how Papua New Guineans don’t waste anything. Children happily ate pieces of pig- skin, fat and all. Adults gnawed on the backbone until there was no trace of meat left. And the dogs lapped away at coconut shells filled with the soupy drippings and carried away the remaining bones. As I observed the scene I noticed an addition to the pig jaw bones that were lined up on their wall- the jaw of a pig who just a few days earlier was living the good life.