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Journey to the Afterlife

We translated this Miskito legend into English from this excellent online collection of Nicaraguan legends.

A Miskito man named Nakili lost his wife who he loved very much. Visiting her grave, he found her soul, which was only about two feet high, preparing for her journey to the afterlife.

The husband wanted to accompany her but she answered him that it was not possible to satisfy his desire since he still was alive. The husband insisted and could not be convinced to remain in this world. So they began the journey together.

She guided him and led him down a narrow footpath that he never had seen before.

They arrived at a place where many birds of prey were flying. She jumped back in fear, but he chased them off and they continued their trip.

After awhile the trail passed between two pines that were very close to each other. They were so close that the wife's soul could barely pass between them, but he, being the size of a normal person, could not get through. He decided to go around them.

They continued on until they arrived at a precipice that could be only crossed by a bridge the width of a human hair. Beneath the bridge was a gigantic pot of boiling water, taken care of by birds of prey. The soul of the wife weighed little and was small enough to pass the narrow bridge, but Nakili, considering the small distance, crossed it with a single jump.

Later they arrived at a great river where they found a canoe paddled by four toads. In the water they watched a great amount of small fish, sardines called Blim or Bilim or Bilam, which the soul mistook for sharks. Across the river Nakili and his wife's soul saw the world of the afterlife, where everyone seemed happy. When the souls of people who didn't lead virtuous lives tried to cross the river, the canoe tipped over and the sardines devoured them. The toads ferried the wife's soul safely across, but the man had to reach the other side by swimming.

There they were welcomed by Más Allá, a robust woman with many breasts, to whom the inhabitants arrived once in a while to suck like babies. Más Allá was displeased by the arrival of Nakili and ordered to him to return to the Earth. He begged to stay because he loved his wife so much he could not separate from her. Finally she agreed that he could remain in the kingdom of the afterlife.

In this country nobody had to work. There was abundant food and rich drinks and diversion. But after staying there a long time, Nakili felt the desire to return to Earth to see his children again. Más Allá gave him permission to leave on the condition that he would not return to the afterlife until after the death of his own body.

She sat him on a great stalk of bamboo and dropped it in the river. After a moment he realized he was in the middle of the ocean by the great waves that surrounded him. Finally a gigantic wave threw him ashore, leaving him right in front of his own small house.

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More stories to read:

 Native American ghost stories
 Native American gods of the dead
 Legends about grief



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