Once upon a time deep in the steamy Colombian jungle two intrepid journalists stumbled upon the legend of a mysterious insect, known only as “La Machaca,” whose deadly bite has only one cure…
The story begins half way through last century, in a small village in the Putumayo department on the Peruvian border, where the journalists were sent to cover a story on the village’s yearly festival.
Arriving late in the afternoon, the adventurous duo was sniffing around for an interesting story to bring back to their editor, when they stumbled across a local artisan selling his wares. Among the ceramic pots and necklaces and hammocks and bags, a strange looking creature caught the journalists’ eye.
Looking closer, they noticed its swollen head, which looked like a crocodile’s, and its moth-like body as long as a man’s finger.
They asked the artisan what it was, but he didn’t know where it came from.
All he knew was that the insect was known as a machacha and that it was very dangerous. The artisan told of the machacas’s fatal bite, for which an unsuspecting victim had less than a day to find a cure.
And there was only one cure.
To abate the perils of death that the machaca’s lethal poison brought, the victim must make love within 12 hours. Spell-bound by the story, the journalists returned to the city to pitch it to their editor. And so the legend of the “La Machacha” was born.
When the story broke the consequences were instantaneous. Colombia immediately suffered an epidemic of machaca bites. There were even reports of a group of monks being bitten. They stoically vowed to die before seeking the cure.
Unfortunately though, it is Colombia Report’s sad duty today to inform its public that the deadly love bug is (allegedly) a harmless fulgorid – a Latin American “planthopper.”
And yet this revelation should be tinged with joy because its now clear the love-bug’s bite has not sentenced any Colombians to death, even if it has sent many to their marriage.