Yesterday, I was out gathering footage in a remote area of the forest. The shadows and fog shrouded the land in mystery. Suddenly, I heard a woman crying. I thought it was my imagination, but just to be sure, I set my camera down and strained my ears for any sounds. Then, in the distance, the crying echoed once again. Was it a wild dog? Was it a wolf? Was it a woman in distress? Or was it the wind?
Our guide warned us to move carefully through the forest and to beware the treacherous Ka’aguy Póra, a forest spirit who harms those he believes will do evil to the forest. As we silently moved through the forest, I wanted to search for the sound’s source, but our guide insisted that we respect Ka’aguy Póra and leave the sound behind us.
Today, I told my story around the city. Many of the city’s inhabitants confirmed our guide’s story of the forest spirit. However, one local told me that the strange, spine-tingling cries had not come from a wild dog, a wolf, a woman, the wind, or a spirit that protects the forest. According to the local, this sound had no supernatural origin that it in fact was the call of a rare forest bird whose song mimics a woman’s cry. The bird in Guaraní is called guánguînguê, "old woman cry."
The guánguînguê is a nocturnal bird that hunts at night. In the day it perches into wood branches, it's great camouflage make it look like a wood stump. The story goes that there was a boy who had a sick mom. One day his mother was very ill, but the boy decided to go to a party instead. The old woman called and called her child, she sent many others to fetch him from the party. The boy did not want to hear the people that came to get him, and he replied " I will have my entire life to cry about her, just let me party!" and soon his mother died , and the boy was cursed by the gods, and turned into a bird that forever will cry from sunset to sunrise until the end of times.
While back in the office reviewing the shots from the day before, I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd brought a piece of the forest back with me. It was then I came across an image that made me freeze and that haunting cry from the day was captured there in my camera lens. A paw print carved into the stone, in the same hills I visited. It made me think of the all the sound this people might have heard in their primordial forest whey they made that carving into the rock. And how the carved paw print, still resonates with people thousand years into the future.