Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dolphin Love in the Amazon

There are dozens of myths in the Amazon basin that have helped maintain an otherwise very fragile social fabric. Tunchis, ghosts, in the woods keep most people out of the woods at night when the predators feed. Chuluchaqui, a sort of Pan character, can confuse you to the point where it might take days or weeks to return to your home from a walk to your fields--chacras. But Chuluchaqui, even if just a myth, is vital, because of the habit riberiƱos have of leaving their families to visit friends for days and weeks at a time and an inability to explain what they are doing before they do it. Abandoning your family is not good; their boredom is irresistible and they have to go sometimes. Having a convenient Chuluchaqui to blame smooths everything over.
    Dolphins are also vital to the social fabric: The pink dolphins are sirens: They call out to the men and the men cannot resist their charm. The men dive into the lakes and make wild love with them.

    The blue dolphins can transform themselves in the evening to irresistibly handsome young men. When they call to the women coming from the chacras or neighboring villages, there is no way to turn away: You must make love, and it is a ferocious, wild, wonderful making love.
     The stories may or may not be true, but they are a vital element in the social fabric of Amazonia, where making love with people outside of your husband or wife is a pretty regular part of living. A woman coming home at dawn with your breasts and neck covered in hickeys--bite marks--is completely forgivable if you were seduced by a dolphin; it might otherwise lead to a machete or shotgun anger-killing if it was just the neighbor. Similarly, a man coming home drunk with hickeys is forgiven if the cause of the problem was a pink dolphin, rather than the neighbor woman.
    There are no myths in Amazonia that don't have their roots in maintaining the social fabric. They are wonderful survival tools.

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