(If you need to see Part 1 of Travels with Goat go here)
On a tropical lazy coastal heat wave high, I slid into Goa. Elated to be at a shore, and doubly elated to catch a flight and a banana boat the next day to the Maldives. 1800 islands, 26 atolls and crystal blue waters in the middle of the Indian Ocean. After 4 months of 120 degree heat, I was ready to give India and me a break.
The humidity forced me into the dark, air conditioned hotel disco, pretty much empty besides a huge man and his buddy, backs to me, chatting at the bar.
My eyes adjusted to the seedy purple light. My skin to the cold air. Like a moth to a flame, I sidled up next to them, asked for a Kingfisher beer from an unmotivated vested bartender. We odd humans know each other in the far corners of the world.
The 2 guys surprised me with perfect english and a classic jolly American demeanor. The friend said the big guy was the 1st American sumo champion in the world. Looking back on it, I’m pretty sure it was Akebono Taro. At 6’8” and 514 lbs, he made history by becoming the first non-Japanese-born wrestler ever to reach the highest rank in sumo.
I was impressed by his bigness and we toasted to him finding his perfect profession. It was a snapshot moment I will always cherish; an enormous human in a random bar at a faraway place, part of the long reel of life.
But this story is about a goat.
Back at my room, some of the friends I had been traveling through India with for 4 months flew down to say a last farewell. They brought gifts from the friends who couldn’t make it. One gift was late; they said it was a stuffed animal.
Now, my brain didn’t even register this. A stuffed animal is a doll I can cram in my back pack. Cute and a souvenir that sits on the desk at home, eventually getting relegated to a bin in the closet and then a yard sale, “oh just take it".
What my friend entered the room with was not that. It was a taxidermy goat, glass eyes and long straight horns. My friends didn’t bat an eye. I had months left of travel and a stuffed goat was not going to fit in my back pack.
My goat would have to be hand carried. I immediately planned to give it away.
But that was harder than it sounds.
Goat rode with me on its first flight, staring out the window as the plane landed in the Maldives. Goat loved the wind in its hair, taking its chance on the banana boat with me out to the island.
Leaving India, the nice stoic Sikh gentleman in customs turned goat over, looked in its rear (pretty likely someone would smuggle drugs that way) and gave me curious looks.
I told him to take it and give it to his kids.
He kindly put it through the X-ray machine and I was free to go.
Goat and I landed at 3:00 am in Kenya, where I had a 12 hour airport layover. I stood goat out in the middle of the terminal, and sat and watched African women give it a wide berth.
At about 6 am, I was approached by a love struck goat herder in his mid 30s. He thought this was his fate to meet me. He followed me everywhere. He lit my cigarettes. He waited next to me when I dined on Kenyan fries and waited for me outside the entry to the ladies room, I admired his belief in destiny and wondered how I lost that. He cried at his misfortune when I had to go to the terminal gate.
I was boarding an El Al flight to Israel, which means you have to be interviewed. I left goat with a young ginger Israeli traveler, only to come back with him sitting across the terminal from goat because he was too embarrassed to sit next to it.
Families started pouring in to board flights home after safaris with Save the Rhino tees. I’ll never forget the horrified looks I got holding goat.
Flying up to Israel was my first flight across the Sahara, which will be in later stories. Me and goat traveled through Israel, his only mishap came when one of his legs was slammed in the trunk by an Israeli taxi driver.
I’ll never forget landing in LA, walking through the terminal with goat in one of those luggage haulers, 3 skinny legs poking through the slats and one rouge broken leg laying sideways.
I was so proud to get that thing back.
Did goat get relegated to a yard sale?
Nope. 10 years later my cattle dog somehow got a hold of it, and tore it to bits, straw everywhere. Only thing left was the head.
Looking back, I should have mounted it and hung it above the fireplace.
“Aunt Lee, why is there a goat head mounted above your fire place?” Funny you should ask...
***Don't forget this part: Thanks for reading. To get you up to speed, I am writing my memoirs and will be posting via email. I appreciate the read. I'm not sure if this rawness is a good spot, but thought I would take a chance. Some stories are not pretty but all true and my life, and you get the chapters first, nobody else has read these. AHO. LEE
Too much reading...
How about dessert?