Five White Eagles flew one day in the blue firmament, five enormous eagles, whose brilliant bodies produced moving shadows over the peaks and mountains.  Did they Come from the North ? From the South ? The indigenous tradition only says that the five white eagles came from the starry skies in a time long long ago.

Those were the days of Caribay, the deva spirit of the aromatic forests, the first woman of the Indians Mirripuyes, habitants of the steeply inclined Andes. She was the daughter of the fiery Zuhe and the pale Chia; who imitated the songs of the birds, running lightly over the herb, like crystaline water and played like the wind with the flowers and trees.

Caribay saw the enormous white eagles flying in the heavens, whose feathers shone brilliantly in the light of the sun like silver plumage; she wanted to adorn her vestment with the rare and slendid feathers. She ran without pausing after the moving shadows which the birds drew upon the land; passing over the profound valleys; climbing one peak and then another; arriving at last, fatigued, at the solitary summit of the andean mountains.  The distant and immense palms, dividing on one side, and for the other, the sheer rock walls, spattered in grey and emerald green, the rocky stairway that forms the mountains passing from the blue waves of the Coquivacoa.

The white eagles climbed perpendicularly into the heights until they were lost in space.  They drew no more their shadows upon the the land.  Caribay passed from one peak to another of the craggy sierras, watering the ground with her tears. She called upon  Zuhé, astral King, and the wind carried her supplications. The eagles had been lost from sight, and the sun faded in the twilight.  Trembling with the cold, she turned her eyes to the East, calling upon Chia, the pale moon, and at that moment the wind stopped to make the silence. The stars shined, and in their simple glory glowed in the form of a semicircle drawn upon the horizon. Caribay broke the august silence of the rocky crags with a cry of admiration. The moon had appeared, and about it, flew the five fantastic and brilliant eagles.

And while the eagles descended majestically, the deva spirit of the aromatic forests, the mythological indian of the andes,  sung sweetly over the heights her song of the forests. The mysterious birds circled over the naked crests of the mountain range, perching at last, each one upon a peak, digging their claws into the living rock; and there they stayed immobile, in slience,  with their heads turned to the North, extending their gigantic wings as if ready to take flight to the blue firmament once again.

Caribay wanted to adorn her vestment with those rare and splendid feathers, she rushed towards them to snatch the envied plumage, but a cold glacier greated her hands,   the eagles were petrified, converted into five enormous masses of ice. Caribay gave a cry of fright and fled in terror. The white eagles were a frightening mystery.

The moon suddenly darkened, the hurricane struck  the nude peaks with sinister sounds and noises, and the white eagles awoke. Awakened in fury they shook the monstrous wings, the ground was covered with great quantities of snow and all the mountain was brillant with its white plumage.

This is the fabulous origen of the Sierras Nevadas of Merida. The five white eagles of the indigenous tradition are the five mountain peaks perpetually cover with snow.  The grand and tempetuous storms are the furious awakenings of the eagles, and the whistling of the wind ein the paramos of today is the memory of the sad and monotonous song of Caribay, the beautiful myth of the Venezuelan Andes.

Author: Tulio Febres Cordero

    freely translated by Dr. Richard C. Rebeck