There are many beautiful myths and legends associated with my land; sultry and luscious like the rich earth that bore them, these tales have been passed down from generation to generation and reflect, like the crystal waters of Caño Cristales, some of the colorful history of the people in whose psyche they’re ingrained.
One of these echoes of old is the story of “La Madre de Agua”, a watery sprite who inhabits the frigid depths of crystalline rivers in the coffee-growing region of what is now Colombia.
Young and beautiful, she was the golden-haired apple of her father’s Spanish eye and could do no wrong. But the sunlit maiden with irises as blue and clear as the waters she now inhabits, fell in love and was irredeemably consumed by the wild passions permeating the destinies of natives and would-be colonizers alike.
Her love was as vibrant as the emeralds were green, as fragrant as the orchids adorning the American trees and as doomed as the song of the cicada in the tropical heat.
She looked at the land and saw beauty where her race saw only sacrifice and sacrifice claimed her fate. Her father saw evil in the only love she thought there could be and an aberration in the new life that there was.
The new life that was no more.
When her father laid waste to her light and washed his hands of it in the currents, “la nueva madre” threw herself in after it and drowned.
And so from being a new mother she became The Mother of the Water and now makes of the depths her sorrowful home. She loves children and sings to them from the sparkling rapids without considering the danger to the little ones. The children run towards her love and lose their lives in so doing, adding yet more twine to the tangle of her misery, which she pores over even to this day.
This story is told to little ones so they know to stay away from treacherous running water and the dangerous undercurrents common to the area’s many rivers.