Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Z is for Zarzamora and the Fire Bug (A to Z Challenge 2019: Fruit Folktales)

This story comes from the Pemon people of Venezuela. Zarzamora is often translated to English as blackberry, but in Venezuelan Spanish it can mean a variety of similar fruits, such as the Rubus floribundus (zarzamora andina), Rubus glaucus (zarzamora azul, Andean raspberry), Rubus ulmifolius (thornless/wild blackberry), Rubus bogotensis (black mulberry), or the Rubus caesius (zarzamora pajarera, European dewberry). The story itself didn't specify the species.

Once upon a time there was a cocuyo beetle (glowing click beetle) who set out to visit some relatives. He made the appropriate preparations, prayers and invocations for safe travel, and began his journey. One time along the way, night found him on a hill, where he found the house of a zarzamora. He asked for shelter for the night, and she invited him in. She was old, leafless and bent, with some very ugly features, but she was a great hostess. She offered food and drinks, hung a hammock for him, they had a nice conversation - and the zarzamora fell in love with the beetle. The cocuyo, however, wanted nothing from her; he told her she was old and ugly, and the next morning, he went on his way.

The beetle reached his destination, visited with his relatives for a while, and then set out on the journey home. On the way back, he happened to stop on the same hill where the zarzamora lived. Surprise! She was completely changed now: She stood straight, rejuvenated, with fresh leaves and beautiful flowers. The beetle instantly fell in love with her, but she kept ignoring him. Eventually he started begging for her to at least tell him how she became young again.

"Some people passed this way, and they set fire to me. It was the fire that rejuvenated me." - responded the zarzamora. The cocuyo immediately wanted to be rejuvenated too. So, despite the zarzamora's warnings, he flew straight to the place where people were camping, and threw himself into the fire. He was badly burnt, and turned black from the smoke forever. He returned home, ashamed of himself. His descendants have the same tendencies ever since: When they see fire, they try to fly into it, and when they see zarzamora in bloom, they can't stay away from the beautiful flowers.

(The story comes from this book.)

This was the last story for this year's A to Z. Thank you all for another fun Challenge! See you in May for the Reflections. And don't forget to eat fruit!


  1. Hi Zalka.
    I must tell you that I have thoroughly enjoyed your fruity posts.
    Because I live in Africa I'm sure there are many many folk tales connected with these people, they believe in ancestor worship so you can imagine how many stories are told around the fire at night.
    Blessings from Geoff in South Africa.

  2. A great fruit to end with. I love blackberries because they are free, just so long as you don't mind going home with purple fingers after a harvesting session. A perfect end end to a brilliant collection of fruity tales for which I thank you.

    My final Children's Story - for now!

  3. Congratulations on a wonderful series of delightful posts! And I'll follow your admonition and continue to eat lots of fruit. :-) I love this tale - zazamoras and cocuyo beetles in an endless dance together.

  4. As a lifelong pyrophobic, voluntarily jumping into fire is the last thing I'd do! Though I do love blackberries.

  5. I used to have Himalayan blackberries (not Himalayan, but Irani and Armenian, and very invasive)and they would get big round nasty beetles, I think a kind of stinkbug. I hate stinkbugs and squash bugs! I understand what kind of "love" these beetles have for berry brambles!
    Thank you for a month of wonderful tales. I never imagined there'd be a fruit one for every letter!

  6. Well, I definitely think the zarzamora can do better than that beetle. He's very shallow. =)
    Congratulations on reaching Z!
    Black and White: Z is for Ziz

  7. Oh, so these fire bugs and blackberries are black because of going through a fire? One is rejuvinated and turns young and the other burns and turns black?
    Forgive me I don't understand or perhaps it is just a story without rhyme or reason? Anyway , thank you for participating in the AtoZchallenge!
    Jackie's Bookbytes Letter Z

  8. What a fascinating tale! I've really enjoyed following along with your folktales.

    DB McNicol, author
    A to Z Microfiction: Zebra

  9. I have enjoyed every fruit and every fruit folktale. Thank you for an amazing and entertaining time at the A-Z.

  10. Hi Zalka,
    Congratulations on completing the challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed your stories related to fruits. I appreciate the research you must have done for each story. The stories I read were very insightful.
    Read my Z post here ZEST

  11. Wow, that wasn't aneasy theme, congratulations on finding a fruit for every letter! And great storytales!

  12. Well done, Zalka! Who would have thought you could not only find folk tales about fruit, but one for each letter? And I have enjoyed them all.

    An amusing little story!

  13. Excellent story! And now I'm hungry for fruit.

  14. Well, I would have to say that beetle received his due! Fun story and very colorful photos of delicious fruits.
    Congratulations on reaching "Z" and now it is time to rest!
    Z is for Zulu Warrior in Belgium?

  15. Great tale! Thanks for a fun A-Z :-)

    Ronel visiting with the A-Z Challenge music and writing: Zigging and Zagging

  16. I love this... although I do all your tales. Thanks for all your hard work on yet another A2Z challenge. Why do we do them, we ask? Well, They are fun!

  17. I have never heard this word Zarzamora.


  18. Very nice story. I think that Zarzamora would make a great name for one of my ancestors and I'll have to see if I can't find one before next year's challenge.