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Traditions and Legends
Hamao, with the jealousy put in his heart by the god of evil, felt the first pain. Guanaroca, after the loss of her son, felt the fisrt sorrow and the biggest a mother can suffer. Hamao understood very late the irrationality of his jealousy and eventually felt love as a father. Guanaroca forgave him, and after forgiveness came his second son: Caunao.
His childhood was peaceful and happy, under the constant protection of his loving mother. The child became a man, and started to feel invaded by a vague concern, and a deep sorrow. He would not be able to identify that mood, which made him feel indifferent to life.
One day, when returning to his lonely bohio*. He stopped to contemplate two little birds caressing each other on the branch of a tree. Then, he understood the reason of his sorrow. He was alone in the world, he had no woman to caress and being caress by, a woman to whom he could tell his sorrow, his joy, his dreams and hopes. There was only one woman in the world, and that was his mother, Guanaroca.
Wandering by the countryside, he would try in vain to distract his solitude and so he stared a young tree, high enough and with a round top. Its branches were crowded by huge quantities of fruit, big brown oval fruits. When ripe, the fruits came off from the tree and fell to the ground showing when bursting their flesh full with little seeds.
Caunao felt an irresistible desire to taste that fruit, so he took one of the most beautiful and bit it. It tasted sweet and sour but nice. He found that strange fruit to be a gift by nature, an abundant and delicious food. He liked it so much that he returned to his bohio looking for a catauro (basket) made of yagua*. He wanted to fill it with the rare and tasty fruits he had found.
Back to his house, he would gather them in a pile and he was about to place them into the catauro when a moon ray hit the disorganized fruits and made appear a wonderful being with a sex different than his. It was a woman, a beautiful one. Smiling, well shaped, velvet golden skinned. Expressive eyes, big and tender, a red smiling mouth. Long, black and abundant hair. Caunao stared at her with an increasing extasis.
Suddenly he felt that his sorrow and sadness were fading, expelled by joy and love. He would not be lonely again in life. Now, he had someone tol ove and being loved by. That beautiful woman, who appeared after the touch of the moonlight, was a present given to him by Maroya, the goddess of the night, who has disipated the solitude of Hamao, the first man, in the same way, sending Guanaroca, the fisrt woman to him. And so, Maroya, wanted to alleviate Caunao´s life, giving him a woman.
Caunao loved her since the first momento he saw her. He made her his and she was the mother of his children. That second woman was Jagua, a Word which means wealth, mine, spring, and begining. And jaguar was also the name given to the tree from which she had appeared, and that´s why it was considered to be a sacred one.
Jagua, Caunao´s wife was the one to dictate the laws of the Siboney people. She also taught them how to fish and hunt, how to grow the crops, how to sing, dance and the way to cure deseases. Guanaroca was the mother of the first men and Jagua was the mother of the first women. The sons of Guanaroca, mother of Caunao, conceived the daughters of Jagua and from those couples came all the inhabitants of the Earth.
According to the Domincan tradition, Cihualohuatl, the snake woman, was the mithological Eve who would give birth two children at a time, always a boy and a girl in a way to procure the continuity of the humankind. The Siboney tradition is more moral and Guanaroca, the Cuban Eve only had boys and Jagua, the second woman only had females, and their sons and daughters would unite for reproduction.
(Taken from the book: "Tradiciones y leyendas de Cienfuegos", by Adrián del Valle, 1919.)
*a type of hut built by the Tainos, an Arawak people that inhabited the island of Cuba and the nearby isles.
*fibrous tissue from the wood of the royal palm
Translated by: Osmany Ortiz González (Azurina)