The Dolphin Legend
Photo by Michael Goulding
The dolphin, called boto in Amazonia, comes in two colors, pink and black, each of which is a different species with different habits and involved in different traditions. When traveling along the rivers it's common to see a boto diving or rippling the waters far away. It's said that the black boto is friendly and helps save people from drowning, but that the pink one is dangerous. Being nearly blind, botos have a sophisticated sonar system that helps them to navigate the muddy Amazon waters. After humans, they are the major predators of fish.
In June, people in Amazonia celebrate the birthdays of Saints Anthony, John, and Peter. These night-time parties are enhanced by the flames of bonfires, fireworks, and the taste of typical foods and dances. In the background there's always the pleasant sound of accordions.
One of the legends about the boto is that when a young girl meets a young boy at one of the June celebrations, their first experience is attributed to the boto.
The belief is that, on these nights when people are distracted by celebrating, the pink boto appears transformed into a very handsome man. But he is always wearing a hat, because his transformation is not complete since his breathing hole is still at the top of his head.
Like a gentleman, he flirts, enchanting the first pretty, young woman he sees, and takes her down to the river.
During these June celebrations if a man appears wearing a hat people ask him to take it off to make sure he's not a boto, just in case...