If you ever travel to Ecuador, maybe you can go to the south of the country. There, in the heart of the Andes, there is a beautiful national park that has an impressive lagoon with crystal clear waters, famous for its enormous beauty. It is known as the El Cajas lagoon.
Apparently, this lagoon did not exist in the past. The elders of the place still remember that, where there is now water, there was a huge farm that belonged to a rich gentleman. Inside the farm there was a magnificent house where he lived with his family surrounded by luxuries and comforts. The rest of the land was a large farm field where dozens of peasants worked under his command.
They say that one hot summer afternoon an elderly couple passed by the rich man’s house. The old woman walked with the help of a wooden cane and he carried an empty pitcher in his right hand.
– My dear, look what a mansion! We’re going to knock on the door and see if you can help us. We are too old to go all the way in one go. We must regain our strength or we will never make it to the city!
The family was having a picnic when they heard the sound of the doorknob. Almost no one ever passed by, so parents and children got up from the table and went to see who was knocking on the door.
When they opened it they found a very old and humble-looking man and woman. The old man took a step forward, took off his hat out of courtesy, and addressed the father of the family gently.
– Good afternoon! My wife and I have been walking from far away through the mountains. We are thirsty and exhausted. Would you be so kind as to welcome us into your home so that we can rest and refill our water jug?
The owner of the farm, in a very unpleasant voice, said to the maid:
– Drive these two from our lands and if necessary release the dogs! I don’t want intruders loitering on my properties!
His wife and three children also had no compassion for the couple. Very haughty and without saying a word, they turned around, entered the house, and the father closed the door tightly and bolt. Only the maid stood outside looking at their pained little faces.
– Don’t worry, gentlemen. Come with me, I will give you shelter for tonight.
He sneakily led them to the barn so they could at least sleep on a warm, fluffy bed of hay for a few hours. Then he cautiously left and after a while he returned with some food and fresh water.
– Here they have bread, cheese and some roast meat. Sorry but that’s all I could get.
The old woman was excited.
– Oh, thank you very much for everything! You’re an angel!
– No, ma’am, it’s the least I can do. Now I must go or they will miss me in the house. At midnight I will come to see how they are.
The girl left the married couple well off and returned to her housework.
The full moon was already soaring in the sky when he slipped away again to ask if they needed anything else. Stealthily, he entered the stable.
– How are you? Are they comfortable? Can I offer you something else?
The old woman replied with a smile.
– Thanks to your courage and generosity, we have been able to eat and rest for a long time. We don’t need anything else.
The old man also smiled at him and was very grateful.
– You have been very kind, girl, thank you very much.
Suddenly, his face became very serious.
– Now listen carefully to what I am going to tell you: you must flee because before dawn a misfortune will occur as a punishment for this despotic and cruel family. Grab your things and find yourself another place to live. Come on, hurry up!
– How do you say? …
– No time for explanations! Trust me and get out of here ASAP!
The girl said nothing more and ran out of the barn. He quietly entered the house, packed his few belongings, and exited the back as quickly as he could. Meanwhile, the elders left the barn, resumed their way and also moved away from there forever.
It was a few minutes until dawn when strange sounds woke up the owner of the house and the rest of his family. Birds screeched, horses whinnied wildly, and cows bellowed as if the end of the world was coming.
The father jumped out of bed and yelled:
– But what scandal is this ?! What the hell is wrong with the animals ?!
He still hadn’t understood anything when, through the window, he saw a huge body of water coming out of nowhere and beginning to flood his house.
Invaded by panic, he urged his family:
– Go Go! Let’s get out of here or we’ll drown!
They didn’t even have time to dress. The five of them fled toward the mountain in the pale moonlight and without looking back or gathering momentum. They ran for two hours until they finally reached a stop where they could stop to observe what had happened and… The vision was devastating! Everything they owned, their magnificent home and farm fields, had disappeared under the waters.
They had no choice but to continue on their way and go far, far away, to try to rebuild their lives. History says that they managed to survive but were never rich again. They never found out, but they were left with nothing because of their bad heart.
According to legend, those overflowing waters that engulfed the farm calmed down and formed the beautiful lagoon that today we all know as the El Cajas lagoon.