Legend behind the Falls
The area around the Iguazú Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil was once the home to many tribes, one of which tells a tale steeped in tribal folklore of the creation of the falls. According to the Guarani Tribe, a young girl would be chosen to be sacrificed every year to please the serpent god of the Iguassu River. Supposedly, as the time of the sacrifice approached, the Serpent god saw a young girl playing by the river and fell madly in love with her. Unfortunately, as is quite common in these things, this young girl oblivious to the dangers of being noticed by the serpent god so close to the river had not been considered worthy enough to be sacrificed, as was in fact due to be married only a few weeks later. The groom to-be (or secret lover, the story does vary depending on who is telling the tale) pled to the Guarani tribe elders to spare her, but the elders were more interested in not offending the serpent god and promptly denied his request.
In a desperate attempt to save his bride the boy hatched an idea for the two of them to elope together and live out the rest of their lives on the run, perhaps hoping the calm winding river waters would lead them to freedom. In the deep of the night he freed his bride and in the darkness the two lovers boarded a small canoe and escaped down the river, heading out into the unknown.
Of course, this poorly planned escape attempt did not go unnoticed by the Serpent god. At the sight of the two lovers furiously paddling down-river the serpent god raged up and tore through the river chasing them, causing the river to swell and the turbulent waters to break the mud banks. The river twisted through the landscape and became a furious torrent but still the canoe with the two lovers stayed afloat and just out of reach from the Serpent god.
In a final act to catch the lovers the furious Serpent god split the earth from beneath them. Huge chunks of earth and mud came crashing down around them and the boy was thrown from the canoe to the muddy bank on the north side of the river (the Brazilian side).He stood to see the canoe and his bride fall into the Devil’s Throat. As this happened the Serpent god turned the girl into a rock on the Argentine side, to save her from certain death. To punish the boy, the serpent god transformed him into a palm tree so he would be unable to reach his bride.
For eternity the two lovers are separate, the boy as a palm tree on the Brazilian side of the falls and the girl as the great rock that lies above the Devil’s Throat on the Argentine side.
You may hear this tale on a walk around either side of the falls, but it’s really only from the Brazilian side that you can catch a bit of nature (or possibly the truth in the tale) providing a spectacle. When the sun shines bright and the river is full a rainbow is visible, linking the rock with the palm tree and joining the two tragic lovers together – that is, if you believe the Guarani folklore.
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