• Julissa Zwemmer

Closer to Nature

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

Our friends took us out for our first hunt. The local farm owners wanted to show us how they put food on the table for their family and community. They cherish the goods that nature has to offer of their own land, and we were determined to absorb the beauty of this life style.

First, we didn’t expect any hardcore action. Actually we didn’t know what to expect. We, as city girls, imagined hunting as sniffing dogs doing the hard work, waiting for them to catch something, one shot from the distant and the animal would be laying death for us to take home. As easy as that! No blood, no problem, this I could handle.

A few moments later I found myself running into the bush, trying to catch up with the locals. They told me the dogs found a wild pig, and we needed to hurry up to stab it death before the dogs tear him apart. While rushing through the bush, I got stuck in quicksand, tripped over tree roots, got smacked in the face by plants. Twenty minutes later we arrived, out of breath. The pig had drowned in a little creek due to the dogs’ attack. They dragged the death animal out of the water. It had been a while I had to stare death in the eye again. Probably, I will never get used to death, real life death. Feeling the boundary between the two worlds fade away, while you’re looking at a lifeless thing.

Okay, this was it. Animal death, job is done, let’s go back. Surprisingly, that was not about to happen. They opened the pig up, the guts needed to get out to make the animal lighter to carry. Fack! Are they really going to do this, right here, now?! I had a few seconds to decide if I wanted to look or not. Before I knew, the belly was cut open and the first time in my life I saw human-size organs. I thought I would pass out like my friend almost did, but I actually got so fascinated. Wauw, how colorful are we from the inside! Beautiful pink longs, blue/gray intestine and aubergine liver. I got surprised by my own thought of wanting to feel the heart. They cut the heart of and dropped it in my hands. Waaaah, it was still warm and some blood slide along my fingers on the ground. Oh gosh, so this is it, a real heart. This is what I’ve got inside me. This thing that I associate my soul, feelings, dreams, spirit and life-purpose-guide with. Following the inner voice of this slobby-feeling thing was how I identify myself. Suddenly, I was so confused about myself. I was aware of life and being a life. I felt one with nature and the whole world we are connected with. I asked the hunters if I could bury the heart as respect for nature. They were happy about my interest in their culture and showed me how the Māori did it as a tradition, by hanging up the heart and longs on a tree to honor the forest and their mother; The Tane Mauni tree.

On the way back I understood where the phrase: ‘piggy back’ came from. The pig gets carried on the back to their homes. Even Rowan carried the empty animal on her neck, whilst having blood dripping down her arms. Back at the truck we were officially called pig hunters. What an unforgettable experience!


©2019 by Travel Thoughts.  Photographs by Rowan Linschoten Photography©