"Every planet has its own weird customs. About a year before we met, I spent six weeks on a moon where the principal form of recreation was juggling geese. My hand to God. Baby geese - goslings! They were juggled."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rabbits and Riobamba

Last Saturday my host and I went to Riobamba when the city has its major market day. Products flood into the streets and you can find anything you could ever think of or want. It's a fascinating place on Saturday and I love going, especially when I'm with my host because she knows exactly where everything is and she loves haggling.

First things first, we had to find breakfast. She surprised me and dragged me out of bed at 6:30 a.m. to catch the bus, so we hadn't eaten. The apparent vegetarian restaurant was closed so we walked around for an hour looking for another place but, finding nothing, my host led us to a small indoor market where we started off with corn and cheese tortillas and oversweetened coffee. I loooove those tortillas - they are exactly the same as pupusas in El Salvador - so my host bought a few more to bring home with us. I could have stopped there, but she insisted on having a second course. For me, it was a massive plate of rice, avocado, beets, salad, and bitter orange juice. It's funny how people here consider that insufficient, but in reality it's much more balanced and healthy than the food I make back home in the states.

After some more errands in that part of town taking up the whole morning, it was finally time to dive deep into the outdoor street market. The vendors and shoppers take over the street, but somehow the street isn't closed and cars - even buses - squeeze through the crowds. I followed as my host browsed around, happy just to be there looking.

We made it to the small animal pavilion where rabbits and guinea pigs were mixed together. I had both too many choices but too few because not many rabbits were the age I was looking for, about two months. I liked the mottled muddy brown rabbits because they looked like the wild cottontails in Illinois, but my host liked the "fancy" breeds.

It was sad seeing them all, though, because remember this isn't a pet market. These rabbits and guinea pigs are raised to be eaten and are treated like that too: when you seem interested in one, the handler picks it up by the ears and plops it in your hands before you can protest. That happened to me when my host oogled at a black and white rabbit that looked a bit too big. "Embra" (female) the handler said, picking her up by the ears. My host asked how much she was and handler said ten dollars, and plopped her into my too-small cardboard box in my arms. "Noooooo,' snarled my host, "No more than five." The handler scoffed and said no way, it's a female, nine and no less. "Eight," my host persisted. I didn't notice any sign of agreement and I for sure didn't say that was the rabbit I wanted. But my host said to pay her eight...so...I had a rabbit.

I thought for a bit. "It's called "Wagra" ("cow" in Quichua)," I told my host as we walked away from the livestock pavilion.

"Hmmm...no, it's a "Cunu" ("rabbit" in Quichua)," she answered.

"No, I mean, it looks like a cow so it's named "Wagra."

"Noooooo, no good. How about... "Colbel." It looks like a flower called colbel."

Hmmmm. She picked out AND named my rabbit.

After finding a couple hens for Campeon, we finally went home. I called up my folks and told them I had a bunny, and it was black and white. Mom immediately said, "NAME IT MOO!!"

So Moo it is. Or Moo Colbel. But I like Moo.

Moo's a little shy so far. She absolutely hates being picked up and thrashes wildly, kicking her hind paws out like a kangaroo which have already scratched me up pretty good. But I found out she goes crazy for clover, dandelion and carrot treats. After I gave her just a little, she now hops up on her hind legs to beg for treats whenever I walk by, every time without fail. At least now I can pet her without her running away to hid in the corner. Each morning I've been waking up worried and I nervously peek around the corner to see if she's still alive. After the two baby ones dying, I'm paranoid. But she seems super healthy and not ready to keel over any time soon.

The other day when I was reading in the afternoon by her hutch, someone started tapping on my window. Unlike my host, I figured it was a curious kid. I looked out the door. No one. I looked down the walkway. No one. Then 'tap tap tap tap tap.' A chicken. One of my host's two new hens made her way up the stairs and fluttered up to my window to, for some unknown chickeny reason, tap on my window. I grabbed her, but meanwhile her compatriot already made it down the walkway and through the railing onto the top of the gate where she could easily fall either out of the house or into the house. My host came out that second to tell me dinner was ready, and holding out the chicken, I just pointed at the other one about to escape.

And the next morning, when I didn't wake up at 4:30 a.m. when Campeon the rooster crowed, he came and got me. He hopped up the cement staircase and, at 5 a.m., bellowing, angry crows flooded my room. I swore he was crowing in my ear, but he could only get as far as my door. My host was up already, so I quietly opened the door so she wouldn't hear me, shoved him down the stairs, and slept for another hour.

He didn't forget. In the afternoon, as I sat reading in the sun in my room, he snuck up the stairs again. I didn't notice as he slowly placed himself in the doorway, about three feet away from me. Facing me, in his triumphant moment, he let loose his most angry, loudest crow.

Maybe I'll try eating chickens again.

(not really)


  1. HAHA! You have some interesting experiences!

  2. I love your stories. And Moo is adorable. You know you can train rabbits to use cat litter?

  3. Christina I love these photos!! That's such a great story about how you got Moo! She is sooo cute. I'm also glad we got to chat up the other day. Talk to you soon!!

  4. Protip: Hold a rabbit tight and close. They like to feel secure. Also, it's harder for them to kick you that way, and they usually stop after a few moments. It's tempting to hold them out away from you when they kick, but this makes them feel exposed and endangered. They usually kick worse when you do this.

    I am loving reading all your stories! I hope I can come visit.

  5. Becca: Yup, guess so :)

    Amanda: Yup! Working on it. I read it´s easier than training a dog but harder than training a cat. I think it´s just plain hard.

    Lindsay: Thanks! :)

    Laurie: Yup, figured that out pretty quickly. She´s also stopped kicking but she has the regular bunny kickout when you put her down. Visit??? YES!