Walking on the outskirts of Baracoa, the town built on the site of Columbus’ landing on Cuba,
we caught site of a goat being butchered. Naturally, I wanted photos. We ended up getting a
much more profound glimpse of Cuban culture than we expected. As I was photographing
the butchers, Jane was escorted over to the door of the house. “Dave! Come here!”, she said.
Inside we found a shrine set up, blood all over the floor, and a Santeria priest passing around
a bottle of rum. We stepped inside. I had a swig of rum. Jane passed. Then the drumming,
chanting and dancing began. We had stumbled upon a gratitude ceremony.
Evidently one of the participants had prayed for and received something, and the sacrifice of the goat
and subsequent celebratory ritual and feast were thanks given to the appropriate deity.
We didn’t stay very long, but in retrospect I wish we had. I would like to have better understood
what was going on, and I would have bought them another goat to thank them for including us.