These are a few of the amazing tales of folklore and urban legend that I have heard since our arrival in Ecuador!
I have learned here that everyone has a story, and everything comes with an explanation. It is really up to the listener to believe or not believe! Either way, I genuinely appreciate and enjoy the stories of this culture.
*Bone Ceviche: Urban Legend
(As told to my husband by the owner of a ceviche kitchen)
When trying to gain my husband’s patronage, he told him of how his competitor in business… the ceviche hut against the street, will use the bones of humans to “dust” the grounds around their establishment, in a form of witchcraft to lure the customers and allow them to charge double the price with no trouble.
It is true that the Ceviche place under attack, is the most successful one in the area. But, we have to laugh each time we reminisce on the claims on their neighboring competitor. It was one of the first absurd “tales” that I would hear after moving here. It didn’t take long for me learn that almost everyone here has some such tale… whether one they have made up themselves or those that have been passed down for many generations. Some are even culturally definitive for explanations of holidays and indigenous practices.
Here are more:
*The Love Triangle of the Pichincha volcanoes:
( As read to me by my husband in reference from the Quechua Indians of Ecuador)
It is a story about a love triangle between 3 of large volcanoes in Ecuador (Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, and Tungurahua). The tale tells of one warrior (Chimborazo) winning the heart of the female volcano (Tungurahua) after many years of eruptions that occurred during this “love battle”. Following the win, the volcano couple married and a “child” was born, and thus a smaller, younger volcano (Guagua). It is said that the family is and has been calm since then (inactive and not erupting), but when the child cries… the mother will respond, and with this… the indigenous believe that the mother (Tungurahua) and baby (Guagua)volcanoes will erupt simultaneously.
In recent times, the volcano (Cotopaxi) who lost the battle, has remained active and has sporadic eruptions…especially in the last months!
*Weather/Storms of the Pichincha volcanoes:
(As told to me by my Mother-in-law)
She tells me that the weather is so unstable and quickly changing in Quito because of the relationship between Chimborazo and Tungurahua. This a traditional belief of the Quechua Indians. The weather in the high altitude city is quickly changing, erratic, and unpredictable. This is somewhat attributed to the fickle heart and mood of women in general, but is especially blamed on the female volcano, Tungurahua. It is not uncommon for the weather to change from cool to hot, rainy to sunny, then thunderstorms and fog..and repeat, through the course of one day. The Quechua believe that it storms when they fight (or when Tungurahua is upset with Chimborazo), rains when she cries, and is sunny when she is happy, etc.
*”Brujo or the Sorcerer”, A Hummingbird tale:
(As told by the guard of our community)
We recently assembled our own recycled Hummingbird feeder, in the hopes of attracting the any of the numerous stunning Ecuadorian Hummingbirds. As we showed it to the guard and groundskeeper of our community, he told us this story:
He said that in ancient times, this hummingbird was captured and sacrificed for indigenous witch craft practices. The heart of the bird was removed and wrapped in a handkerchief. The handkerchief was then rubbed over the woman of whom the man hoped to woo. This spell was effective and the woman would fall hopelessly in love with the man who had captured and removed the heart of the bird.
(We have not yet had the luck of spotting this spoken of hummingbird, but it is explained as mostly red… with red covering the face, hood, and chest. We will update with an accurate photo when we find one.)