In the vicinity of the Hollin River(Hayllu yacu), there was a village in which lived a valiant Indian named Siquihua, who stood out for being a skillful fisherman and hunter. Thanks to his skills, there was never a shortage of food in his house. His wife, always grumpy, complained that she could not stand the pain in her arms and hands from continually cleaning the fish and cutting into pieces the meat of the animals that Siquihua hunted in the bush.
Siquihua had stopped fishing and hunting so as not to put up with his wife’s constant complaints. Soon, food became scarce in the house. His wife, then, called him lazy, lazy, who did nothing, while she worked herself to death. At those times I would say that I hated him and that he should leave the house. Siquihua, so as not to hear his wife’s complaints, went back to the bush to hunt and fish, but without success.
Desperate, and not knowing what to do, Siquihua consulted a witchdoctor or shaman in the village who advised him to fast for a long time, and not to consume salt or chili, or have sexual relations. Once his body had been purified, Siquihua went back to fishing in the river. He tried again and again, with no luck. One moonlit night he returned to the river with his boat. He also failed to catch fish and sobbed aloud. It was raining and lightning struck. Behind the light of the beam he saw a giant casting his net and hauling in a net full of fish. There were so many that Siquihua tried to grab a few from the big pile. But the giant shouted at him, telling him not to dare touch what did not belong to him. That those fish were his, lord and master of the river and the fish. And if she wanted some, she would ask him for them and he would give them to her. Siquihua told him that in his house, and in the village where he came from, there was no food and people were starving. The giant, whose name was Rayu Apaya (Mighty Ray), went into the jungle and told Siquihua to follow him. They walked a long way until they found a large boa, which Rayu crushed with one finger, and asked Siquihua to surround it with a circle made of pieces of firewood and black stones. He said some magic words, and from the center came out tongues of flame that roasted the boa. They ate from it. Their meat was delicious. Siquihua took what was left over from the meal, wrapping it in the green leaf of a plant, and returned home, happy to bring food. Siquihua offered the rest of the roasted boa to his wife, but she rejected him, insulting him and preventing him from entering her house. Siquihua, dismayed, invoked the name of his friend Rayu several times and, suddenly, lightning struck inside the house, killing his wife. Since then, on every stormy night, with thunder and lightning, Siquihua goes out fishing and returns loaded with fish to his village.
Adapted by Rafael Cartay from legends compiled in:
Valarezo, S. J. A. (2002). The jungle, the people, their history: myths, legends, traditions and fauna of the Ecuadorian Amazon. PDF
Dr. Rafael Cartay is a Venezuelan economist, historian, and writer best known for his extensive work in gastronomy, and has received the National Nutrition Award, Gourmand World Cookbook Award, Best Kitchen Dictionary, and The Great Gold Fork. He began his research on the Amazon in 2014 and lived in Iquitos during 2015, where he wrote The Peruvian Amazon Table (2016), the Dictionary of Food and Cuisine of the Amazon Basin (2020), and the online portal delAmazonas.com, of which he is co-founder and main writer. Books by Rafael Cartay can be found on Amazon.com
This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)