A luxury cruise is an incredible way to see the world, but that’s only half the experience. The countries and cultures you’ll see on your voyage create the adventures that’ll stay with you for life – from ancient monuments to musicians in local cafes, showing travellers many different sides to the same destination.
With this in mind, today we’re looking at some of the world’s strangest folk tales in luxury cruise destinations around the globe – the old stories behind some of the sights you might see on your next adventure…
Table Mountain is one of Cape Town’s biggest attractions, and there’s a less than scientific explanation for the ‘tablecloth’ of cloud that often shrouds its flat summit. The origins of the cloud supposedly stem from the legend of Jan Van Hunks, a Dutch pirate who loved to boast that he could smoke more tobacco than any other man, and without getting sick. When he settled down by Cape Town, he’d often climb the slopes of the mountain where could smoke in peace.
One day he met a dark-clad figure high up on the mountain, who asked him for a little tobacco. Before long Van Hunks was making his usual boast, although the stranger replied that he could easily smoke more tobacco than him. They made a contest of it and spent the whole day smoking a huge pile of the stuff, and by the time the pirate had beaten the stranger they were both feeling worse for wear – and the mountain top was clouded by their smoke. To Van Hunks’ horror, the stranger revealed himself to be none other than the Devil, and he was furious about losing the contest. The tale goes that the Devil disappeared with Van Hunks in flash of lightning, and the pirate was never seen again. Every year they repeat their duel on Devil’s Peak, and the resulting smoke is the cause of Table Mountain’s cloudy covering.
Tsukumogami are everyday objects in Japanese folklore which have grown souls and come to life, which only happens after they’ve been in service for a hundred years. Cloths, kimonos, scrolls and lanterns have all been said to become possessed – either to the benefit of their owners, or to their great detriment. Some objects have even been said to band together and dispense their own mischievous brand of justice on owners who didn’t take care of their possessions. Some Shinto ceremonies are even reserved to placate broken objects, to prevent their sadness or desire for revenge.
One of the most popular of these objects in Japanese folk history, and arguably one of the strangest, is the yureigasa – a ghostly umbrella which, on very windy days, would blow its victims up into the sky. Just make sure you choose wisely if you’re souvenir shopping on a rainy day…
Our last folktale takes us to the native tribes of Brazil and Argentina, and explains a little of the mythology behind the spectacular Iguaza Falls. The tale goes that a beautiful maiden, Naipi, fell in love with a great warrior named Taruba from the neighbouring village. Before they were to be married though, the god-spirit of the Iguazu River, a great serpent called M’Boi, saw beautiful Naipi as she was sitting down by the water’s edge. M’Boi demanded that the villagers give Naipi to him as a sacrifice, as they did with many other maidens.
Before she was to be sacrificed, Naipi and Taruba stole away on a canoe to escape. The serpent god chased them down the flat river, but he couldn’t catch up with them. The serpent thrashed and writhed as he chased their canoe, so that the river itself became wide and winding. He became so wrathful that he split the ground apart in the river itself, creating the Iguaza Falls to separate the star-crossed lovers. He turned brave Taruba into a palm tree up on the edge of the falls, and beautiful Naipi into a rock down below where the water fell. The lovers could never be together again, but it’s said that every time they see one another, a rainbow forms between the top of the falls on the Brazilian side of the river, and the rocks below the falls in Argentina.
The world is full of stories, and every country has its own tales from different times. Learning a little about the folk history in your cruise destinations can even deepen your appreciation of them during your trips ashore – just like a good local meal, or a guided tour in the wild.
If you’d like to discover more about the world and its stories on a luxury cruise, you can call our Cruise Concierge team on 0808 202 6105 – whether you’d like to make a booking, or even if you’re just looking for advice on the best cruises to take that offer talks from experts on native cultures.
Images courtesy of Ichieisai Yoshitsuya, Wikimedia Commons; Matthias Kniese, Wikiemedia Commons; Sekien Yarikechou, Wikimedia Commons; Charles J Sharpe, Wikimedia Commons.