I once said that there are two things that you’ll leave with after living in a developing country. The first is a greater perspective of the world, and the second is a cast-iron stomach. For this post I tell a story about a time in which I worked to develop the latter. This was when I ended up eating a rat for breakfast one morning during my Peace Corps service.
While living in my village, Baja Kunda, I worked as a teacher trainer at the school there. My job entailed observing teachers and helping them to enhance their classroom management skills and teaching methods. I also took on other roles there, one of which was coordinating the school’s Scout program.
For the Scout program I teamed up with another teacher named Mr. Conteh. We had a large group of students from the upper grades whom we would teach things like leadership, integrity, and other life skills. Most of this was done through after school meetings, but we also held weekend camps. I enjoyed getting the chance to teach the Scouts. However, during our first camp I ended up learning something from them.
It was a Sunday morning, our last day of camp. Mr. Conteh and I were discussing how we were going to wrap things up when one of our Scouts, named Sainey, approached us holding a large, dead rat by the tail. At first I thought he found it and wanted to show us. So I acknowledged him and then told him to get rid of it. He then says to me, “Oh no Mr. Trawally (my Gambian surname), we will eat it.” I then said, “What?! No get rid of it!” My shock and surprise was very obvious. Mr. Conteh then chimes in to tell me that the rat was edible, and that it was normal for people in the village to eat them if they had them.
After learning this cultural aspect I became intrigued and decided to just go with it. I asked Sainey if I could have some of the rat after he finished cooking it. He agreed and then proceeded to prepare and cook the rat with some of the other Scouts. I had also learned that Sainey didn’t just find it, he captured and killed it. He did so by pouring a pail of water down the rat’s hole and grabbing it as it came out. So he flushed it out… literally.
For many people eating a rat would only be done in dire straights, like a survival situation. I, on the other hand, enjoy seeking out oddities when I travel. Especially when it comes to food. One thing that I also try to do is eat local dishes. If I can get a certain something back home, then I don’t want it while I’m traveling. To me, trying new foods is a crucial part of any travel experience. It can break you out of your comfort zone, give you a chance to get to know the culture, or in the case with this post, have a story to share!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and video. As always please share it if you did. Would you have eaten the rat? Leave a comment below! Thank you for visiting my blog and have a great day!