For this project, we are going to start by watching two videos...
And... here's the other!
We are also going to read some stories....
Let's start by reading a story by a former student of our Institute:
As Sweet As Ñangapirý
Recovering from that cold was a terrible process. My parents took me to see the doctor twice and that was not normal in my family because we could always find a solution to every problem on our own. My mother looked very worried about my health and my father, who sometimes used to be cold, had promised to go to collect ñangapiry(1) as soon as I felt better so when I was up and around we prepared the trip enthusiastically. However, there was a detail that my father did not know about my plans and it was that I had invited one of my cousins, Sebastian, to come with us despite being well aware of how unfriendly my father could be with children. Anyway, that summer day had arrived.
“I´ll be waiting for you in the pickup truck” My father said to me.
“Well… but we have to wait for Sebastian because he is coming with us” I replied.
“Are you serious? Who did you ask for permission?” He asked.
“His mother. She said that it was ok”.
My father sighed deeply and went outside. I took my slingshot and kissed my mother, she told me that I had to obey dad and be careful with vipers; then she asked my father;
“Luis, where are you going?”
“Just two or three kilometers away. Near where we took Julio to look for a lechiguana(2) hive?” He answered.
“Oh! Yes. Just in case you find some chicken weed(3), pick some leaves and bring them. Mrs Leiva told me her son is empachado(4). Be careful with Armando. Do not let him walk alone through the undergrowth!”
“Cristy, I know what I´m doing. You want to come with us? Besides, Sebastian is also coming, I am sure he will take care of Armando” He said ironically.
(1) Ñangapirý: a wild red fruit that grows in the north of
Argentina and . Paraguay
(2) Lechiguana: a species of black wasp that produces delicious kind of honey.
(3) Chicken weed: a medicinal weed used for colic problems.
(4) Empachado: Noun/Adj. a person who suffers stomachache.
Sebastian was a scrawny boy who lived with his mother and three younger brothers. His father had abandoned his mother when she was pregnant so Santa was the support of the family and the fact that she was all day outside made Sebastian a wild child. He used to tell me that his father visited once a month and was very cruel with him. On several occasions, Sebastian was badly beaten and his mother never said a word. She was in love with that man and every decision he made was accepted even if it meant to obligate the little boy to kneel down on small pieces of rocks or corn.
The fifteen-minute trip could be really interesting. My cousin always had a story to tell and that was what he did.
“Last weekend I went with “el Jorge”(5) to the glen and he caught some ducks with his slingshot” Sebastian said.
My father started laughing and answered;
“That’s impossible! I would like to see those ducks killed with a slingshot.”
“I´m not lying, uncle! El Jorge really did that. Next time I will bring one of them to show you. I just killed a cardinal, a big one.”
“Did you eat it?” Dad asked him.
“No, you can´t eat cardinals! Armando, listen to your father.” He laughed.
“You shouldn´t kill cardinals. Neither cardinals nor hummingbirds… That is what my mother told me.” I shouted.
“Because they are a beautiful part of nature. They should fly freely; birds don´t harm people.” Dad said.
“You say that because you haven´t seen the damage sparrows have done in grandpa´s fruit trees. He had to make three scarecrows; they are
My father just smiled. I could not imagine a building-like scarecrow but I understood the idea clearly.
My father stopped and parked the pickup truck on the road. In fact, he did not have much space but it was not a problem because there weren´t any vehicles.
(5) “El Jorge”: (Coll.)the additional definite article before a proper noun is a common way of addressing people in some provinces of
“Listen to how cicadas sing! Get out and explore the forest.” My father said. “I will check the engine and then will follow you. Ok?”
Sebastian and I crossed a barbed wire fence and got in the forest. As soon as we were there I could feel some mosquitoes biting my face and legs.
“You should have brought trousers and a hood like me!” He said angrily. “If a cleg bites you, you´ll cry like a sissy.”
“No. I won´t.” I replied while trying to kill some mosquitoes.
It was very hot and dry there. We had walked some meters through the weed looking for the ñangapiry tree when suddenly I saw a monitor lizard standing on a termite hive.
“Look at the lizard! I shouted. Look at it, there on that shit!”
“Yes, I saw it. Silence! I´ll try to catch it.” He murmured.
Sebastian was trying to take his slingshot out of his pocket when it ran away.
“You mustn’t shout when there is an animal near! I could have caught it, asshole”
“What did you want to catch it for?”
“´Cause you can cook its tail and sell its skin. Last week I sold a lizard´s skin and I was paid $30 and I gave the money to my mother.”
“Wow! Perhaps we can wait for it. I think it was eating that shit… It will come back!” I said while pointing at the hive.”
“No, asshole! That is not shit. Lizards don´t eat shit… I think so…”
“So what is that?” I asked confused.
“I don´t know. Go and take a look.”
“Are you crazy? I think that´s some werewolf´s shit! I won´t go there! Perhaps there is a werewolf near.”
“You are so stupid! Werewolves appear on full moon nights. They sleep during the day…”
“Ok. Shut up because I don´t want to talk about that… You don´t know; it could come like a human being and…”
“Forget it! You have to be careful with the Pomberito(6), it is a real threat at this moment.”
(6) Pomberito: a legend based on the idea of the existence of an old dwarf who lives in the forest and enjoys scaring children.
“The Pomberito is not real, Sebastian! It doesn´t exist!”
“Silence! Don´t say that… You are such a stupid boy! Don´t say it or he will appear to show you that he exists! You are a fucking asshole!” He sounded angry and we started to walk again. He continued;
“Of course he exists! My grandma saw it once, when she was harvesting cotton. He was smoking next to an oak… She also told me that the following day my grandpa bought some tobacco and left it near the oak and guess what… It disappeared during the night!” He seemed very sure of what he was saying.
“I don´t know… Perhaps the tobacco was taken by the dogs or something like that. It doesn´t make any sense! If there is a human-like creature living in the forest who taught it to speak?”
“His parents, I suppose…” He replied.
“Does it have a family? You mean there is a family of pomberitos living here?” I laughed.
“Don´t laugh, asshole. It is true! I don´t know if his parents are still alive but the Pomberito has a son and a daughter…”
“You are telling lies!”
“It is true, I swear it! The other day while grandma was telling me this story, I heard that auntie Olga said to my mother; “What do you know about THE pomberito? Does he know his son is starting school in a month?” And my mother answered that she hadn´t seen him since December but knew his daughter was going to start classes at a private school in
“How strange! It sounds pretty funny.” I said.
“No, it is not funny! It means that my mother knows his family… I am afraid of it. Last night I had a nightmare. I feel he will come for me and my mother won´t be able to protect me.”
“Why don´t you ask your mother for help?”
“Because he is stronger than us! I don´t even want my mother to know that I heard what she said to auntie Olga. I am very worried.”
“Don´t worry! The werewolf I know is more dangerous than the Pomberito and my father told me that he is his friend so maybe we can ask for help… I mean, instead of eating us, the werewolf could eat the Pomberito´s family.”
He didn´t say a word, he was very scared. We continued walking through the weed looking at the trees and stopped to discuss if an insect that jumped on my shorts was a great green bush-cricket or a bow-winged grasshopper. Sebastian tried to catch a bird with his slingshot several times and explained to me why it was so difficult to kill a vulture while it was flying in the sky. There were dozens of them flying over us.
“El Jorge killed a woodpecker once but…” He was saying that when we heard a long sound similar to a whistle coming from far away!
“What´s that?” I asked.
“Do not pay much attention. It is the pora. But don´t listen to it.”
“What is the pora?”
“I have to explain everything to you! The pora could be lots of things such as a ghost, a creepy sound or a beheaded pig that follows you.”
“My father told me that those things do not exist! He always says that we should be afraid of living people… and… the werewolf, of course.”
“Your father doesn´t know anything! They are real, asshole!”
“I will ask him about those kinds of things again and you will see what he says.”
Some minutes later, we found an hornero(7) in a tree and Sebastian took it down. We were so anxious to see if it had birds but instead of it a big black field rat got out from the nest and we shouted so loudly that my father appeared and asked what had happened. I thought that he had been following us but we were not so far away from the barbed wire fence.
“I have already found some chicken weed and mburucuyá(8) too.” Dad said while showing us the weed he was holding and continued;
“Have you been able to find at least a ñangapiry tree?”
We looked at each other and said “No.” So he took us near the barbed wire fence and showed three big ñangapiry trees full of red fruits. We shouted with excitement and started to pick the fruits.
(6) Hornero: a nest built with mud by the “hornerito” bird.
(7) Mburucuyá: also known as “apasionaria”, it is a medicinal weed used for cardiac problems.
(8) Matecocido: an infusion prepared with “Yerbamate”.
On the way back home, Sebastian told us about a boy who had died because he had a cup of matecocido(9) after eating ñangapirý. I was shocked and my father said nothing. The point is that when we arrived home, my mother invited my cousin to have an afternoon snack so we had more time to talk about the werewolf and the Pomberito.
Before it got dark, Sebastian returned home taking a plastic bag full of ñangapirys.
So many years have passed from that day. Sebastian and I have grown up to become boring adults with responsibilities and schedules that do not let us meet again to talk and see nature as we used to do. So many years have passed and I still remember my father´s stories, the matecocido prepared by my mother and those tortas fritas(10) that could give my body all the nutrients it needed to grow up healthy.
I feel we both have learnt to see life from different perspectives, I´m not afraid of the werewolf anymore and I´m sure Sebastian is capable of facing that pomberito, who used to make his childhood difficult.
Today my nightmares are connected with a mechanic capitalist system and a fear of an uncertain future. The only thing I would like to add is that after having read so much about wars, dictatorships and poverty and after having listened to so many stories of this real world I really would like to meet the werewolf once in a lifetime to tell him that he has been the sweetest evil creature I have ever heard about.
(9) Torta fritas: Fried discs of the size of a hand that are usually prepared with flour, water, lard and a pinch of salt.