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The Guarani Tribe and the Iguazu River

Long time ago, before the arrival of the Spanish in South America, the Guarani tribe lived in the area around the Iguazú River. The river was inhabited by a giant and evil snake, named M’Boi, a serpent god, son of the supreme god of all nature, Tupa. M’Boi was monstrous and selfish, and every year he demanded an offering, so the Guarani tribe had to sacrifice a beautiful maiden to the Serpent God. These young women were bred to be sacrificed and were proud of their destiny of save their people. But things were about to change. The most beautiful girl in the tribe, Naipi, was to be married to Taruba, a great warrior from a neighboring tribe, a marriage that would bring union and prosperity to both tribes.

A few weeks before her marriage ceremony, Naipi was walking near the river and M’Boi saw her reflection in the water. The Serpent God thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and demanded that the Guarani tribe give her to him. The elders of the tribe were too afraid to upset M’Boi and his father Tupa, so they made arrangements to sacrifice Naipi a day before she was to be married to Taruba. Naipi was devastated, as she and Taruba were truly in love. Taruba decided to rescue Naipi from her grim fate and made arrangements to run away navigating downstream the river in a canoe at midnight when everyone was asleep. Unfortunately, M’Boi saw them and determined to stop them.

Taruba rowed as hard as he could and was able to keep a few feet of space between them and the serpent. This made M’Boi so mad that his body expanded to the size of the river. He slithered and squirmed causing the river to form new curves and the little canoe started to rock back in forth. As Taruba still wouldn’t give up, M’Boi became furious, and he forced the earth to split. The river spilled over the cracked earth, sending the canoe into spirals. Taruba was knocked out and tossed onto the embankment. Naipi was trapped inside and about to smash into the land below when M’Boi changed her into a large rock, so she wouldn’t be able to run away. Taruba saw the transformation and tried to rush down to her, but his hands were pulled into the earth by M’Boi. His fingers were stretched so deep into the embankment that they turned into roots and Taruba grew into a palm tree - forever rooted to the earth above the falls. This was M’Boi’s way of revenge, separating the two lovers by an enormous waterfall, so they could see each other but never touch. M’Boi is said to lurk deep in the waters of Devil’s Throat, watching the palm tree and the rock, making sure that they never unite. Naipi and Taruba can never be together, but they found a way to show their love to each other by forming a rainbow which starts at a palm tree on the Brazilian side of the falls and reaches over to the rock of Naipi, in Argentina.