Tuesday, December 30, 2014

THE STORY OF PALÅYE ROCK



To most modern people, the rock on the left, off the shore of Hågat, looks like Aladdin's slipper or maybe a genie's lamp.

But to our ancestors, who had no idea who Aladdin was, the rock reminded them of a canoe.

A very old story is told about these two rocks came about.

Many centuries ago, before the time of the Spaniards, some Chamorro men in Hågat agreed to go out to sea to catch fish. They took with them fruits and the bark of the puting tree, which is narcotic, to use to catch fish.

The tide would soon go out and the fishermen needed to tie their nets to the breaks in the reef in order to catch the fish swimming out with the tide. In their haste, they chose a canoe that was leaky. As they rowed out, the boat began to leak. As they paddled back to land, they began to throw their things out of the boat so as to return to land faster. But the canoe was just leaking too much and they abandoned it to swim to shore.

When they looked back, they saw that the canoe had changed to a rock, which they called Palåye. The things they threw out of the canoe, such as the nets, the bark and fruits, formed a second rock.

Since then, Palåye Rock served the fishermen of Hågat by making loud noises as sea water rushed through holes in the rock, just as the canoe from which it was made had leaking holes. These loud noises warn the fishermen that big waves are on their way.

The other rock, formed by the nets, bark and fruit, has some vegetation. But on Palåye, made from a canoe, no plants grow. At least, as the story goes. But recently some vegetation has spring up on Palåye. Still, compared to the growth found on the rock on the right, one can see why that's how the story goes. I do remember seeing Palåye Rock completely barren of plants.


NOTE

The puting tree is known, in English, as the fish-killer tree and as the barringtonia asiatica among scientists. Its poison stupifies fish, making them easy to catch in their dazed state.


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