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The incredible journey of the Shipibo

The incredible journey of the Shipibo

This Peruvian folktale was taken from the original in Quechua language (Komankaya ian jaskatash ini) and freely translated into English.

A long time ago, the Shipibo of the Ucayali River lived in Cumancava, a place surrounded by rain forests, enchanted animals, and exotic plants. The Shipibo had repopulated the land after a great flood. The god of water, dressed in his blanket of scales, saved a woman and a man from the waters by pointing out a magical tree that grew to the sky. The tree protected them from being swept away by the current beyond their place of origin.

The incredible journey of the Shipibo

Once nature returned to order, the Shipibo became a great nation. As a symbol of the resurgence of life, a new magical tree grew in their community, whose roots extended to a nearby lagoon that supplied them with fresh water.

One silent day, like the bed of a great river deep in the jungle, the leaves of the tree moved with their characteristic flapping sound. The Shipibo then discovered that the tree was loaded with fruits. But the most wonderful thing happened next.

Rays of celestial light covered the crown and branches of the tree, and the fruits resembled luminous stars lit in broad daylight. One by one, the fruits, like rising stars, burst into maturity, and the seeds danced through the air until they fell softly onto the lagoon.

The Shipibo approached the shore of the lagoon in amazement and observed that the fish, as they ate the seeds of the tree, emerged from the transparent surface of the water, and flew up as if they were birds that rise from a long sleep. The winged fish, like dreams come true of the lagoon, submerged one by one in the jungle's thickness, and they were heard shouting and singing, turned into birds of all species.

The incredible journey of the Shipibo

The Shipibo then thought of imitating the fish, since they assumed that the god of water had revealed to them the secret of a great medicine. They then extracted a large amount of juice from the seeds of the tree and then sprinkled the surroundings of the village with the magical liquid.

If with the seeds of the tree the fish can fly, we, with the juice of the tree, will reach the sky, said the Shipibo. And that night they went to sleep with the firm intention of traveling to where only the sun reaches.

The next morning, the Shipibo noticed the houses were strangely tilted, and after exploring the entire community, they noticed that part of the ground had come loose. Little by little, and while the brilliant star in the sky ascended, the community, with houses and farms and ceramic pots, also ascended.

But, as incredible as the trip was, in the afternoon the ascent suddenly stopped, and with the sunset the community descended towards the earth again. The prayers and the tears were not enough to stop the fall. In fact, when night came, the community fell from above, and fell noisily on the Cachahuaya hill.

The Shipibo had fallen far from their place of origin, and they no longer had a magical tree loaded with fruit, nor a beautiful freshwater lagoon. During the descent, houses collapsed, farm fields were covered with jungle, and ceramic pots shattered. Even the hill on which they fell, stopped being high and became small. But all had survived.

After their incredible journey to heaven, the Shipibo had to learn to live on earth again.

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