Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tepuy Tale

In the background of this photo two shadowy tepuyes stand watch over the Gran Sabana. The tepuye on the left, the pointed one and the saddle between them are the subject of myth. Henry tells its story, "The Gran Sabana is from a God, a woman named Macunaima who was the queen of the Gran Sabana. The tepuye on the left was a great tree with a huge spreading top. Another god was jealous and wanted to take the Gran Sabana and they fought a fierce battle. The God wanted to chop off the head of Macunaima. He leaned back and swung, but his great sword missed and cut into the great tree. The tree and its large top fell, with the top breaking Grande Tepuye into two tepuyes. The tepuye on the right is Roraima, the highest tepuye at 2730 meters. When the tree fell, breaking the tepuye which formerly held all life, the water containing all the life of the Gran Sabana flooded the Earth, bringing life to it. Roraima is suspected to hold the richest diamond deposit in the world, but is currently protected from exploration. Roraima was the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World.
Tepuyes Tramin on the left, and Ilu on the right, north of Roraima. Mesas of pre-Cambrian rock, part of the Guayana Shield and nearly 3 billion years old, the tepuyes tower majestically over the Gran Sabana. Those who have explored their summits describe them as being from another place and time, unlike anywhere else. Geologically separated for millions of years, many of the plants and animals found on the tops are endemic, adapted to weather extremes of wind and rain. The rock formations, similarly affected, have eroded into otherworldly formations. Henry once climbed Roraima with the help of a guide. It took two and a half days.

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