Monday, May 09, 2011
Myths for Monday -- El Burrito y La Tuna -- The Donkey and the Prickly Pear
Last week, I posted about los Wayuú (or Guajiros), the Indigenous people of La Guajira (today's Department of Focus). Today, I want to share one of their myths. But first, it would be important to explain that in the native religion, the Wayuú believe in many Gods. Maleiwa is the beneficient God. While Wanulu is the the evil God, the enemy of mankind. And now, without further ado.....
El Burrito y La Tuna
One day, a Wayuú man was travelling the countryside of La Guajira atop his donkey. After many long hours of walking in the hot sun, the two stopped to rest for the evening. The man hung his hammock in the trees, and quickly fell asleep. However, in the middle of the night, he awoke to the hair-raising sound of the whistle of Wanulu. Terrified, he jumped from his hammock and ran behind the trees. His donkey, however, did not move. It was as if he had not heard the Wanulu.
Then, the Wanulu appeared before him. "Where is your rider?" he demanded.
"I do not have a rider," responded the donkey.
A discussion ensued about the various things that the donkey was wearing that made it look like he had a rider, but each time the donkey insisted that the items did not belong to a rider.
Frustrated, the Wanulu threatened the donkey with death, "Where is your rider? If you do not tell me I will kill you."
As the Wanulu approached the donkey carrying a large bone as a weapon, the donkey thrust out his legs and sent the Wanulu flying. Unfortunately, the Wanulu was unharmed. Thus, began a fierce battle between burro and Wanulu. On and on it raged, until finally, the Wanulu, seeing that the burro was near death, left.
After the Wanulu had vanished from sight, the man came out of hiding. He ran to his donkey and said, "Wow, I didn't know you could talk like me!" He didn't congratulate the donkey. He didn't thank the donkey. NOTHING. He just tried to climb on the donkey and ride him again. But the weakened donkey couldn't carry his master, rather he fell to the ground.
The man, unwilling to help his donkey, left him alone to die and continued on his journey. When he arrived home from his journey he began to brag of his experience. Yet, in his version, he had defeated the Wanulu and no mention of the donkey was ever made.
Meanwhile, the donkey died, and where he lay there grew a large cactus. On it grew large red fruits called TUNAS (prickly pears). This fruit never was picked at by birds. It never dried in the sun. In addition to growing fruit, the cactus became a refuge for large hornets (about 2 inches long) called the MATAJEY. These hornets build hives full of delicious honey.
One day, the man returned to the place where he had left his donkey and found the cactus tree. He began to eat the fruit and the honey, when suddenly he turned green and grew into a plant called the JUMACHE'E. This plant grew large TUNAS also. However, they are wild and covered with thorns.
Now, throughout the Guajira, these two plants grow together. The sweet with the bitter, eternally linked together.