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Moon Rope - A Peruvian Folktale adapted from “The Fox and the Mole”

Moon Rope

A Peruvian Folktale adapted from “The Fox and the Mole”

Moon Rope is an adaptation of a Peruvian tale called “The Fox and the Mole,” found in the Spanish collection “Leyendas y Fábulas Peruanas” by Enriqueta Herrera Gray (Lima, Peru, 1945). An early English translation of this tale appeared in “Latin American Tales from the Pampas to the Pyramids of Mexico” by Genevieve Barlow. This retelling of a Peruvian folktale explains the origin of the shape of a fox that can be seen on the face of the full moon.

Along, long time ago, when animals could still talk, Fox and Mole were the best of friends. On full-moon nights, they both liked to sit outside in the moonlight. They would often stay up late into the night, telling stories and sharing dreams.

moon rope peruvian folktale fox and mole sky

One night, Fox told Mole his craziest dream of all: he wanted to go to the moon. Mole didn’t care one bit about going to the moon. All he cared about was eating worms - big, juicy worms. He dreamed about having worms for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Worms were the first thing he thought about when he woke up and the last thing he thought about before going to sleep.

“Mole,” asked Fox, “what do you wish for the most?” - “Worms!” said Mole. “Worms are what I wish for the most. I wish I had worms to eat all day long! What about you?”

“I wish I could go to the moon,” said Fox. “What a wonderful place it must be. Hey! I’ve got an idea. Will you come with me, Mole?” Mole thought that was the craziest idea he had ever heard. “The moon is so high,” he said. “It’s impossible.”

“But I have a plan,” said Fox. “We’ll wait for the crescent moon. Then we can tie a very long rope to the moon and climb up the rope - it will be easy!” Mole just frowned, “Did I tell you there are worms on the moon?” asked Fox. Mole’s eyes became big and round. “Worms?”

moon rope peruvian folktale rope to moon

“Yes! There are thousands of worms everywhere. You can have worms for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

“And dessert, too?” asked Mole.

“You can have as many as you want,” Fox answered. And so Fox convinced Mole to go with him to the moon.

The next night, they started making the longest rope in the world. They worked together night after night until they finished the rope. Then they waited for the crescent moon to appear. Finally, the moon was just in the right shape. Fox and Mole went to see Bear in his cave. “Dear Bear,” they said, “you are the best tree-climber of all. Please climb to the top of the highest tree and tie this rope around the moon.”

moon rope peruvian folktale bear

Bear said he would try. He climbed up, up, and up to the top of the highest tree. When he got to the top, he stood on tiptoe and stretched as far as he could. But he couldn’t reach the moon. It was too high.

So, Fox and Mole asked Llama for help. “Dear Llama, you are the best mountain-climber of all. Please climb to the top of the highest mountain and tie this rope around the moon.” The Llama said she would try. The Llama climbed up, up, and up to the top of the highest mountain. When she got to the top, she went to the edge of and stretched her neck as far as she could. But she couldn’t reach the moon. It was too high.

moon rope peruvian folktale llama

Finally, Fox and Mole asked Condor for help. “Dear Condor, you can fly higher than anybody else. Please fly as high as you can and tie this rope around the moon.” The condor said he would try. The condor grabbed the rope with his beak and flew high into the sky. Up he flew in great big circles, each circle higher than the last. When he flew as high as he could, he stretched his neck and, at last, he tied the rope around the moon.

moon rope peruvian folktale condor

“Hooray!” shouted Mole. “Thank you, Condor!” shouted Fox. He tied the other end of the rope to a tree and immediately climbed. “Come on, Mole,” Fox yelled. “It’s moon time!” Mole watched Fox climb the rope. The moon was so high! He closed his eyes and thought about all the worms on the moon. Then he opened his eyes and slowly, carefully, he climbed up the rope.

Up and up they climbed, higher than the highest trees. “Oh! I get scared when I look down! Hy, Fox,” shouted Mole. “Are we almost there?”

“Higher, Mole,” replied Fox. “Think of the worms. And don’t look down, whatever you do!” They continued climbing higher than the highest mountains. “Hey, Fox,” shouted Mole again. “Are we almost there? It’s cold up here and I get dizzy every time I look down.”

moon rope peruvian folktale climbing

“We’re almost there, Mole!” shouted Fox. “Just keep thinking about the worms and remember, don’t look down!” That didn’t help, and Mole looked down. He got so dizzy that he let go of the rope and fell to the ground. He hit the earth so hard that he went deep into the ground.

moon rope peruvian folktale mole ground

Mole was very embarrassed and wanted to hide. That’s why Mole still lives underground to this day.

And Fox? Fox climbed all the way to the moon and lived there happily for the rest of his life.

moon rope peruvian folktale fox moon

And in Peru, where this story comes from, people say that on a clear night you can see the shape of a fox in the moon.

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