As an ethnographer of porn, I entered the field with some hard limits and never crossed them. I never ended up doing anything I regretted, but the pressure to push myself and my boundaries was palatable that evening.
I was lucky to have Mexican friends to put me up, ferry me around, shower me with food and attention, without asking for a thing in return. It wasn’t long, however, before their hospitality began to overwhelm me. I felt compelled to return the generosity in whatever meagre way I could – and hamstrung by my inability to do so.
I was having second thoughts, but pressed on safe in the knowledge that I was performing an act that would raise my esteem in the eyes of those present and help to rapidly acculturate me. Biting down on the now-charred-still-white pieces, to be sure, the flesh was not as bad as I expected. Neither good nor bad, it was remarkably neutral in taste - flavoured only with a little bit of salt and eaten with lavash bread. My guide smiled as I ate. “They say it’s good for your virility”, he chuckled, “but not even us locals really eat it that much”.
Neither the Fulbright Commission overseeing my work nor the US Embassy in Kathmandu could contact me and, in the interim, the three other visitors to Mustang had all been declared missing and then subsequently found dead. This was one of those situations where, due to the fact that I was believed to be hurt or lost, a series of emergency procedures would go into effect. I would also later find out that several staff members at Fulbright had already been quietly talking about what kind of memorial they would be holding when the inevitable news arrived.