After traveling to the far south-east of the Caribbean, we flew to the island of Tobago to see the GOAT. Some say Michael Jordan is the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). Some say Tom Brady is the GOAT. Some say Elvis Presley is the GOAT. However, we didn’t go to see the “Greatest Of All Time” in sports or entertainment. We went to see a real goat race. I had heard of horse racing and dog racing, but I had never heard of goat racing. Several times a year, the island of Tobago features a goat racing festival. Tobago proudly calls itself, “The Goat Racing Capital of the World.” When we arrived for one of these events, our host asked us if we would like to enjoy some boiled chicken feet on a stick. Oddly enough, eating chicken feet was not the weirdest part of the day. I had assumed the goats would be pulling a cart behind them, but instead, they pulled humans behind them. The fastest young men and women on the island are selected to race with the goats. There are usually eight teams per race; one human and one goat per team. Each racer stands behind their goat holding on to a rope for dear life. The lanes on the grass track are about one-hundred yards long. When the gates open, it’s off to the races.
While pedigree is part of the selection process in choosing a goat that can run fast, the secret is finding goats that can swim. Yes, the race takes place on ground, but the training takes place in the beautiful Caribbean waters surrounding the island. The goats who swim have much more strength in their legs, allowing them to run faster. Unfortunately, goats are much less tolerant of wet conditions than sheep and cattle, and goats will naturally seek shelter from the rain when it is available. Trainers select healthy goats to carry into the water one at a time. If a goat takes to the water and gets accustomed to it in a short time, it is selected to be a member of the racing team. There are many myths surrounding the advantages of swimming in the beautiful Caribbean waters of Tobago, but it is true that the mineral rich waters have several health benefits, even for goats.
Not only are many of the goats in Tobago extremely healthy, but so are the people. I asked our host why? He said it’s the chicken feet. I thought he was joking. However, like the health benefits of homemade bone broth, chicken feet have vitamins, minerals and calcium in abundance. Bone marrow carries oxygen to our cells. It is, truly, a natural super-supplement. Self-improvement often requires a willingness to try something you have never tried before. I must confess, that was the first and last time I have eaten chicken feet, but it did inspire me to eat healthier foods.
As I reflect on my life, it seems doubtful I will ever be considered the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) at anything. But I can still become the GMOAT…the “Greatest Me Of All Time.” The question is, am I willing to be thrown into the water? Will I allow myself to be placed in “sink or swim’’ moments that lead to the “Greatest Me Of All Time?” Getting out of our comfort zone isn’t comfortable. If you ever feel like a fish out of water, or a goat in water, remember, there is a purpose to every challenge in life. You may not understand the purpose of what you are going through, but there is a purpose. That purpose may not lead you to becoming the greatest entertainer or the greatest athlete, but if it leads to becoming a better you, embrace it.
Rick Moore is Communications Pastor at Destiny Worship Center.