This morning as I ate my avocado toast, I wondered if there was any folklore around the avocado. After reading a few versions online of a very interesting story, I’ve decided to retell my version of it to you here.
First there are some things you should know.
What is a tapir?
Tapirs are large mammals that look like wild hogs with anteater snouts. In reality, tapirs are neither, and they are most closely related to horses and rhinos. The word “tapir” comes from an indigenous Brazilian language; it means “thick,” referring to the animal’s hide. A group of tapirs are called a candle. Yeah, for real, a candle! They can get up to 370 pounds. Most of this information was from this cool site -> Live Science
As Aztec legend tells us…
Seriokai wasn’t sure which came first, his love of avocados or the love for his wife. The two loves seemed connected in such a way that one could not exist without the other. Yaretzi was the sweetest and most beautiful Aztec woman he ever laid his eyes on. They were both children when their fathers taught them how to journey through the jungle to harvest avocados. When they were old enough, they worked together to bring a bountiful harvest to the tribe. He couldn’t have imagined marring anyone else.
Their love was obvious to all who saw them together. Even in their hard work of clearing the jungle and climbing the avocado trees, their lives had a rhythm. The one problem they did have when it was time to harvest the fruit, was with the group of tapir beasts that would scratch their bums against the trees to knock down and feast on the soft fruit.
After a particularly frustrating run in with the largest tapir of the candle, the beast ran off defeated but determined to take revenge upon Seriokai and Yaretzi. He stomped through the thickest part of the jungle until he reached the foot of the great mountain. The beast grumbled to the dark entity within the damp, black rocks. Satisfied that his grievance was heard, the tapir raised his snout in a victory that he had yet to claim.
The next day, the happy couple were laughing as they moved deeper into the jungle in search of their bounty. Despite the vegetation, a breeze reached them and cooled the backs of their necks. Yaretzi carried a sharpened hatchet to clear away the brush and vines as Seriokai scanned the floors of the jungle for clues on which way to navigate them. They had expected a new grove of trees a little deeper in, and sure enough, their skills of tracking down avocado trees paid off in a big way this time. They came across a small clearing where three large avocado trees had lined themselves up in a neat row as if they were waiting to be found.
The two lovers smiled and kissed each other without a word and eagerly moved toward the first tree. They moved the fruits from basket, to carrying bags in a familiar motion. They would never be able to carry so many avocados home to the tribe.
They moved to the next tree. Seriokai jumped up to the first branch, ready to climb into action once again when he felt the weight of his body change and then a pain unlike he could have ever imagined. He fell backwards with such force from the tree that his breath left him. He looked up to see his wife in a daze, her eyes were fogged up like a hot morning, and the hatchet was dripping with his blood. She had severed his leg. A beastly noise came from the edge of the clearing as his wife cried out toward the large tapir.
“Oh, my love. Take me away from here. I will follow you anywhere.”
She lifted the basket of avocados they had picked and ran toward her new love. Sergiokai couldn’t even find his breath to speak as the trees spun above him and darkness pulled him into unconsciousness.
Little time had passed after that cursed moment when a neighbor came upon Seriokai and saved him. But it took much more time for Seriokai’s leg to heal and be fitted with a wooden substitute. These years gave Seriokai time to think and notice the tiny moments that eventually revealed the truth to him of his wife’s seemingly unfaithful turn in character.
Some dark magic had been at play and he would search it out. It may have taken his leg, but what broke his heart more was that it had taken his love and the time they should have had together. It took seven years for Seriokai to leave on his mission seeking Yaretzi and the evil tapir. It also took seven years for an avocado to grow fully enough to bare fruit. He took a bow and arrow vowing to kill the tapir in hopes of breaking his wife free from the spell.
Seriokai scouted the jungle and came across a single avocado tree not far from where his wife was lost to him. As he traveled on over the mountain, he found another tree but just a year younger. He moved beyond the next valley and found another still. On and on, he moved closer to the edge of the earth finding younger trees that were made from the discarded pits his love tossed aside as she ate the avocados from the last basket they harvested together. He knew, the spell might have control of her mind, but her heart was leaving a trail for him to find her.
Soon the saplings became sprouts. Then, the sprouts became seeds and footprints. This is when he knew they were near. They had traveled as far as they could. They were at the edge of the world.
When Seriokai came upon the beast, the tapir was so unsuspecting that the arrow went through his eye and knocked him off balance. He began to topple along the edge of the world. When the arrow pierced the eye, Yaretzi turned and saw her husband. Seriokai witnessed the fog lift from her eyes and rise up to the ether as the spell lost its hold on her. But, before the beast went over, his large upper lip wrapped around the beautiful woman’s ankle and pulled her over the edge as well.
Determined he could save her and spurred by their love, Seriokai leapt over the edge and pulled his wife into his arms, away from the tapir. However, this was the edge of the world they had leaped from. There was no way back to their avocado hunts. But they were finally together forever, even if they did have to be looked over by a tapir with a bloody eye. Seriokai became the constellation Orion, his bow still pulled to the ready against the tapir. Yaretzi became the constellation Pleiades, sharing her beauty with all who might gaze upon her. The tapir became the constellation Hyades to forever suffer from his bloody eye.
Wow, what a story, right? If you like short stories, check out this spooky collection of shorts some friends and I released last year. Thanks for reading. Now, go enjoy some avocado toast.