As I mentioned in my previous post, the great thing about Cuba is all the people you meet just walking down the street. As an example, while walking by an outdoor neighborhood bar, we were called over by a lady with a greasy piece of fried chicken in one hand, a beer in the other, and a big smile on her face. Over a beer, she explained that she lives in Italy and is married to an Italian. She was traveling in Europe years ago as an athlete and defected. Their family seemed to be expert on exporting women—something like four out of six sisters had married foreigners and were living in Europe or the US. Later we realized that the invitation we received to the santería ceremony the family was having that night may have been to give some of the younger women a chance to get married off.
I consider myself a bit of an expert on voodoo and santería, this being my fourth ceremony, but they never fail to impress. This ceremony was a kind of funeral for a sister who had passed away years ago. All the sisters had returned from their foreign homes to be with their mother and the rest of the family for the ceremony.
Below is a photo tour of the ceremony. A word of warning, this post contains some graphic images. Anybody who will be overly disturbed by a goat being decapitated may not want to continue reading (Thi Ri, that means you).
First, the priests led the crowd in prayers and in calling out to the spirits.
As the lamentations grew more intense, one woman became distraught and then seemed to be possessed and finally collapsed.
The prayers and wailing continued until another woman was overtaken and collapsed.
Then everybody came together for a final prayer.
And the drumming and dancing began.
And bring on the goat. The animal's throat was quickly cut and the blood poured into a pan. They then proceeded to cut off the hooves and tail, and then to castrate the goat.
Grandma was given the honor of taking a big bite out of the freshly removed testicle (I'll spare you that picture). Then everybody grabbed a little dinner.