Responsible Travel

The Seven Monstrous Children of Tau and Keraná

With no written language until the arrival of the Jesuits, the Guaraní are great storytellers, and one of the principal myths at the center of their culture is that of Tau and Keraná and their monster offspring. When told in full, the story is a kind of Guaraní guide to social harmony, teaching good behavior and making the consequences of breaking the rules clear.

Tau was an evil spirit cast out by the gods, who later took a fancy to the beautiful but lazy Keraná. During courtship, Tau convinced Keraná that by becoming his wife she would never have to work again, an offer that proved too tempting for the attractive layabout to refuse. However the actions of Tau angered the gods, who condemned the couple to sire seven monstrous children.

Each monster child that was born represented a social norm, and was a warning to those who broke tribal rules. Kurupí, for example, was a hairy, white dwarf with a penis so long he had to wrap it around his waist, who raped any woman who wandered unaccompanied from the village; Yasy Yateré, a kind of pied piper who whistles from the forest at night to hypnotize and kidnap children who are not safely in bed; Moñai, friend of thieves, was a kind of giant serpent so ugly that he could kill you if you set eyes on him; and most feared of all, the seventh son Luisón, a wolf man who stalks graveyards devouring corpses (and their accompanying souls) – a timely reminder to bury your dead.

Worth a Trip: Ojo del Mar

Way up north, close to the town of Bella Vista del Norte in Amambay department, is the Ojo del Mar, a bright blue, almost circular lake thought to be of volcanic origin. Completely surrounded by dense forest, it is an enchanting place, made all the more mysterious by the legend of white caiman that supposedly live nowhere else on earth and are seen only by the lucky (or those with a fertile imagination). The lake is presumably fed by a subterranean spring, but its true depth is unknown – some estimates (or perhaps wild guesses!) suggest it is more than 100m to the bottom. The deep blue color of the water is due to its high mineral content.

Unfortunately there are no organized tours to visit Ojo del Mar and you will need your own vehicle to get there. Swimming is allowed, but only within designated areas. Another local legend (or perhaps not?) tells of swimmers who ignore the rules being sucked mysteriously downwards into the abyss.