Interview with Cuchaquichá from The Elf of Luxembourg by Tom Weston
Cuchaquichá: Greetings, Grandson.
Tom: Grandson? OK, let’s start with that; Cuchaquichá, why don’t you explain for our audience why you called me Grandson; we’re not related as far as I know.
Cuchaquichá: I am of the Muisca. We call all ancestors preceding our parents, Grandfathers and Grandmothers. And we call all descendents following our immediate children, Grandson and Granddaughter. Of course, generally we are talking to our own ancestors and descendents, not other peoples, but I like to extend the courtesy to everyone, because we are all children of the world.
Tom: And I suppose it helps when you don’t know people’s names. But you implied that you can talk to your ancestors and descendents. Don’t you mean ‘talk of’? You can’t really talk to your ancestors, can you?
Cuchaquichá: Yes, doesn’t everyone?
Tom: No, not really.
Cuchaquichá: That is a great shame. Our ancestors know so much that we have forgotten. The walk through the world is easier when they are at your side.
Tom: So how do you set about talking to your ancestors?
Cuchaquichá: The Muisca call on the Vision Serpent.
Tom: Ah, the Vision Serpent, the two headed monster. I remember that from the Elf of Luxembourg. But it seems a rather painful process, requiring blood-letting and magic amulets. I don’t think it’s practical for most people.
Cuchaquichá: There are other ways. Everyone has their own way.
Tom: In the book, you called on the Vision Serpent because you had a big event coming up. Tell us about that.
Cuchaquichá: Unlike the other tribes of the world, unlike the English and the Spanish, the Muisca do not have an absolute ruler, no Kings or Queens. We live in the Muiscan Confederation. The Confederation is divided into tribes, each one headed by a cacique or chief. The tribe elects the cacique; and once a year the cacique elects the Zipa.
Tom: The Zipa – that is the Muiscan equivalent of a President.
Cuchaquichá: Yes. Generally it is easier if we just re-elect the same man to be Zipa, as there is a lot less disruption that way. But at least we can remove bad or sick Zipas. The time you refer to in the book, this was a big day for me. I had been chosen as one of the Zipa’s ceremonial guards for the election. Naturally, I needed all the help I could get for that, so I just had to talk to my ancestors.
Tom: I should probably point out to our audience that when you talk of the Spanish and the English, you are specifically referring to the state of the world as it was in your day, which was the late 16th, early 17th century – the Elizabethan Age. The Spanish Conquistadors and the English Privateers, such as Walter Raleigh were in your Country, which today we call Colombia, in South America. And the reason they were there had some connection to your election of a new Zipa.
Cuchaquichá: The other tribes had a sickness. I think they had eaten some poisoned roots. It made them crazy for gold. They would do anything for it, even fight and kill their brothers. They came for the gold of the Zipa.
Tom: Now we are getting into the legend of El Dorado, are we not?
Cuchaquichá: Our election ceremony calls for offerings to be made to the Gods. We throw our offerings into the Sacred Lake. Naturally, the Zipa, being our leader, must make the greatest offering of all, himself. We cover the Zipa in gold dust and then take the Zipa to the middle of the Sacred Lake, where he goes into the water and the Gods wash the gold dust from his body.
Tom: So, the Spanish expression, El Dorado, the Golden One, originally referred to the Zipa. Today it is generally meant as an expression for something unobtainable.
Cuchaquichá: When the Conquistadores killed the last of the great Zipas, they turned instead to look for the source of the gold, the mines, which they believed to be in the east, protected by the great river.
Tom: This is the Orinoco.
Cuchaquichá: But the Conquistadores never did find El Dorado.
Tom: Now, The Elf of Luxembourg is an Alex and Jackie Adventure. How did you get mixed up in it? Luxembourg is no where near Colombia.
Cuchaquichá: Ha! Blame my wife, Micatachia.
Tom: Muiscans spoke a language, Muisca, also called Chibcha. Today, it is a dead language as the Conquistadores forbid it. But I know a few words have survived and your wife’s name, Micatachia is Muiscan, meaning Beautiful (Micata) Moon (Chia).
Cuchaquichá: It is an appropriate name – she is very beautiful.
Tom: Still, Luxembourg?
Cuchaquichá: I was given a coin. The coin ended up in the possession of the granddaughter called Jackie, while she was in Luxembourg. When I . . .
Tom: Careful now, Cuchaquichá! I don’t want to reveal too many plot points for the members of the audience who have yet to read the book.
Cuchaquichá: Oh, some have not yet heard the Toucan Song? I understand.
Tom: The Toucan Song? That is probably a topic in its own right, best saved for another day. And we have so much else to discuss: Vampires and Elves and Luxembourg. Unfortunately, we seem to be out of time. If Alex and Jackie are following this, is there anything that you would like to say to them?
Cuchaquichá: Hello Grandchildren. You cannot see without a heart, you cannot hear without a heart, but listen to the Toucan Song, and your hearts will see and hear.
Tom: Thank you, Cuchaquichá, for talking with me today.
Cuchaquichá: You are welcome, Grandson.