The Amazon, whose name is inspired by the warriors of Greek mythology, has always exalted the collective imagination.
What traveler has not dreamed of going back to the sources of life on our planet, with the immensity of a fascinating river, images of giant trees and magnificent animals in mind?
The true nature of the Amazon lies not in superlatives, but in the simple experiences that give all its dimension to a territory of legend: to travel in a dugout canoe through the flooded forest, to fall asleep in a hammock in the middle of the forest, to wake up to the cries of howler monkeys, to discover the Amerindian traditions.
In 1542, the Spaniard Orellana, left Quito on the Pacific coast, crossed the Andes with his men in iron helmets, and, going down by the Coca river, joined an immense river. Starving, the conquistadors eat up their shoes. They are attacked, according to sources, by beardless Cumuri Indians, whom Orellana takes for women and for real warriors, armed with bows and going naked. Gaspar de Carvajal, the father of the expedition, will name this river “Amazon”.
According to the legend common in the Amazon, it is said that the Boto turns into a handsome and charming boy dressed in white and wearing a hat. He is an excellent dancer and drinks a lot. At parties, he seduces the most beautiful girls and invites them to a rendezvous by the river. They make love, after which the handsome boy becomes Boto again, sinks into the river and disappears.
According to the oral tale, Iara was an Indian warrior. She received much praise from her father, the tribal chief, but her brothers were jealous and tried to kill her in her sleep. Iara countered the attack and killed them. Fearing her father’s wrath, she fled into the jungle. Her father caught up with her and threw her to the place where the waters meet (Rio Negro and Solimões), fish brought her back to the surface and transformed her into a beautiful mermaid!
Iara now lives in the waters of the river where she sings with her wonderful voice in order to attract passing men. Woe betide those who succumb to the charms of her voice: she will take them to the depths from where they will never return.