In summer time the chirp of the cicada echos all across Paraguay.
Having emerged from below ground and carried out one last moult these large insects make their presence known to all. Their distinctive sound whistles and buzzes far louder than any of the other sounds of nature. So loud it carries several hundred metres with ease.
On a summer evening one of the great pleasures of the Paraguayan countryside is sitting listening to the cicadas in the dark. Some are distant buzzes then suddenly one will unleash a blast of sound from no more than a couple of feet away.
The native peoples of Paraguay, the Guarani, however know through their legends that it has not always been so. There was a time when the nights were silent and the cicadas did not sing.
This was a time long ago when people in the land were few and far between. It was a time before there were any towns or villages. The Guaranis lived then in small tribes scattered across the dense forests.
All had to struggle to get by with only that that the forests and the rivers than ran though them could provide. As life could be at times hard many sought ways to make their lives easier and more rewarding.
For one tribe though life held no difficulties. Game to be hunted and fished was abundant and almost eager to be caught and everyone lived contented lives.
It had always been a good and peaceful tribe but the reason it was now also the most content was a young girl. A daughter of one of the members of the tribe.
The girl had been blessed with the most beautiful singing voice. All day long, where ever she went she would sing, lighting up the forest and everything around her with joy and happiness.
The people understood that it was her beautiful voice that bought happiness and an ease and tranquillity to their lives.
As time passed by tales of this contented tribe living in harmony with it’s surroundings spread through the forest. Along with it went the news that this peaceful life was achieved through the beautiful singing of a young girl.
People though being people were not all willing accept their neighbours good fortune. Some thought it unfair that others should seem to be living better lives than them and were jealous.
The most jealous was a tribe a bad people who believed it was their right to have the best of everything.
This tribe moved through the forests closer to where the singing girl and the happy tribe were living.
Along the way they made plans as to what they would do. At first they thought to kill the girl so as to deprive the world of her gifts. Then after much discussion another plan was agreed. They would steal the singing girl away from her tribe.
That way they thought they could make her sing for them. Then they could have all they ever wanted and with ease they would achieve anything they wished for.
To steal the singing girl away would not though be simple. In addition to being bad people they were weak and cowardly. Attacking the singing girl’s tribe they could not do. Not one of them was brave enough to face another man in combat.
They did though have one weapon with which to steal away the singing girl without having to fight anybody. In the tribe there was a magician. His magic was of the most evil kind. He would use it to trap the singing girl in order that she may be used to benefit his tribe.
From a thicket of trees near the singing girls camp he began to cast his spell.
Soon the effects began to show on the young girl. She started to feel strange and where as before she was always skipping about singing now she took to sitting silently and alone.
At first her family thought that she was ill. All the remedies the forest could offer were tried, but none would improve her condition.
Then one day they discovered that she was nowhere to be seen around the camp and must have wandered off into the forest alone. At once a search party was sent out to find as she was far too young to be safe alone in the forest and everyone knew she was unwell.
It was not long before the search party found her, sitting on a rock at the edge of a forest clearing. But as they approached she jumped up and ran to another rock in the centre of the clearing.
They knew that it was not a natural illness that had stricken her down when out of nowhere a wind rose howling round and round the clearing. Leaves and branches were torn off trees as the wind rushed round stopping anyone from approaching the singing girl.
The people in the search party knew about magic and knew that some evil magic had been cast upon the girl and rushed back to their camp to seek their magician.
He heard their rapidly spoken tale and agreed that it did seem that she was under some evil spell. Along with them he hurried back to the clearing where the girl was being help by the wind.
The magician tried some of his most powerful spells but could not stop the wind. His magic was good magic to be used for healing and the like, not for combat.
Whilst the magician tried one thing after another all eyes were fixed on the girl. The wind was now pressing in tighter and tighter around her, squeezing her in upon herself.
As it did she began to shrink. Smaller and smaller she shrank before their eyes.
By now the magician had realised there was nothing he could do to undo or reverse the evil magic, but that he could stop it.
As he cast his spells the wind did die down and eventually stop all together. But when the air cleared there was no sign of the girl.
They approached the caution unsure if the evil magic had truly been stopped and when they reached the spot where she had been standing they found just a small insect.
One of the men picked up this insect and it began to sing. Then they understood what had happened. The evil magician had turned the singing girl into an insect that he intended to imprison in a cage and make sing for his tribe.
Upon returning to the camp there was much sadness at the loss of the singing girl. When though the insect began to sing their spirits rose and they realised that although the singing girl was lost her voice had been saved.
Through that voice she would become immortal singing throughout the forest forever more.
So came into being the first cicada and forever the people would remember the girl who sang.