I realize that culture is objective, and I am not at liberty to judge a culture that is not my own. However, when I perceive animal abuse, I am quick to feel ill initially, and quick to judge after the fact.
Case in point… about a month ago, while we were walking down the street in Trujillo (going to but bullfight tickets, but that’s another story) a man passed us with a bag. A wailing bag. With a tail sticking out of it. He proceeded to whack the bag which elicited wails that could have been cat or monkey, but were nonetheless heart wrenching. I froze… at once prepared to accost the man and wrestle the bag and the animal away from him, and also because he was Peruvian, and who am I to judge what may be something cultural. And our bus was arriving.
That moment of that day has stuck with me ever since. Was it a cat? Was it a monkey? And why oh why would someone carry an animal around to just beat it with a stick? Well, the answer came to me today.
Today, I happened to mention to our Peruvian friend Choco what we had seen on that day a month ago. He burst into laughter. Apparently, that man with an animal in a bag is a whistle salesman. He carries a small pillow in a bag, with a fake tail, and keeps a whistle in his mouth that sounds like a cat in distress. When he encounters foreigners, he employs the beating of the bag and cat wail whistle, hence eliciting attention and sympathy from tourists.
So now, knowing that it’s all a ruse, I am so ready to meet this man and video the reaction that he gets from tourists. If my reaction is any indication, this should prove to be epic.