How Suri Alpaca Kept the Faith:

A South American Legend

by Mike and Sheila Temple


Among the ancient Rasta, a legendary Native American people about whom little is known other than they live high in the Andes and pre-date the Inca by   some two or three thousand years, the tale of how Suri Alpaca kept the faith is an honored favorite. Like most tales, it involves magic, supernatural creatures and a moral. It begins:

When the earth was young and spirits walked the mountains, all alpaca had long flowing locks and were well aware that they were easily the most beautiful of animals. Indeed, the pride of most alpacas was nothing short of arrogance, for the great god Mar-lee, who is also called Bob by the Rasta, had fashioned alpacas himself with his own hands and wove their fleeces from dreadlocks cut of his own multi-colored hair. Into their large dark eyes, he had cast the gleam of his own brilliant sunlit orbs. On slim elegant legs, they pronked along mountain trails with their long necks stretched higher than a rhea’s. Whenever they met their brothers and sisters, the llamas, they hhummphed derisively at the llamas’ coarse thick coats studded with thorny guard hair and clucked at their comical banana ears. If a toucan flew up from the jungle lowlands to admire their beauty, they laughed at his huge funny colored beak. If a ring tailed coati-mondi squeaked hello from the lower branches of a tree, these alpaca spat their cuds at him to drive him away.

Soon, none of the other animals wanted anything to do with haughty alpacas, and this saddened a few of the alpacas who dutifully tramped behind their many prideful brothers and sisters in the herd. These few nice alpacas liked their big brother and sister llamas and brightly colored toucans and friendly little coati-mondi. Whenever the proud alpacas made fun of other animals, these nice   alpacas were sure to stand back from these mean alpacas and have nothing to do with their insults. And when the laughing herd strutted past the angry victims of their taunts, these nice alpaca would hang their heads and hum quietly, “Sorry, Sorry,” which because they were embarrassed and therefore mumbled sounded a lot like “Suri, Suri.”

With every day, the many haughty alpacas grew more and more prideful. Soon, they argued with each other whether purest white or light to medium fawn or maroon or black or bay black or silver gray or rose gray made the prettiest fleece. Then of course, they quarreled whether pencil locks or twisted locks or flat locks were the best. Each of these haughty alpacas insisted that his or her   fleece was the most beautiful color, most elegant lock and thinnest fiber.   Phlegm flew in huge green wads. The herd was rife with screaming and kicking. No cria was safe. There was not a single orgle to be heard.

img class="right" src="" alt="Suri herd in Florida" width="420" height="166" />

But standing a little off by themselves in a tiny group with their cria tucked against their mothers’ flanks, the nice alpacas could only softly hum their distress and hope for better days. What could they do? This was their herd, and the great god Mar-lee had commanded they all stick together no matter   what. “Be faithful to each other,” Mar-lee had said when he had made them.   “Remember, man, stay as I have made you, my beautiful alpacas. Keep the faith and don’t worry. Be happy.”

And so the days went by. Until one day, the trickster parrot heard the haughty alpacas bickering about which of them was the most beautiful alpaca. He chuckled to himself and decided to have some fun with those arrogant alpacas. So he called out to them in his loud high pitched cry.

“Hey there, beautiful alpacas, what’s all this fuss about who is the most beautiful? All of you look so beautiful to me!”

“Well, of course we do to you,” said the haughty alpacas. “What would a stupid ugly bird with a silly yellow streak around his eyes know about beauty?”  And all the proud alpacas laughed at their own joke, but the parrot just smiled and waited for them to quiet down. Then he said.

“All the same, it seems to me what you need is a judge to settle once and for all who is the most beautiful alpaca. You’re in luck because I’ve been the judge of many a beauty contest in my day.”

Then all of the haughty alpacas were filled to bursting with vanity. Each one was certain that he or she was the most beautiful alpaca in the herd. They cried out for the parrot to judge them there and then. He flew a few slow circles around the herd, sometimes landing on the back of an alpaca to squint at its fleece or peck at a lock, but when he flew toward the nice alpacas, they shook their heads and backed away wanting nothing to do with this beauty contest. So he flew a few more times around the haughty alpacas and perched on a branch of a tall pine tree.

“There’s something missing here,” he said, “something that each of you need if I am to determine which of you is the most beautiful.”

“What is that?” the haughty alpacas cried. “Tell us. Tell us quickly. What do we need?”

“Crimp!” cried the parrot. “Your fleece is wild and natural—just as the great god Mar-lee created it. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Your long flowing locks are all very beautiful. But that’s the problem. Your fleeces all look the same. You need  to add some individual style. Crimp! That’s what you need. Each of you needs your hair styled with a fancy crimp to show off your individual beauty to best   advantage. This is your lucky day because I’m a magic bird. I know just the right spell to put crimp in everyone of your fleeces. So what do you say? Do you want crimp?”

“Yes, yes,” cried the haughty alpacas. “Give us crimp! Crimp! We want crimp!”

But the nice alpacas hummed their unease and backed farther away. The trickster parrot eyed the nice alpacas.

“How about it?” he said. “Don’t you want crimp, too? Speak up!”

The nice alpacas remembered what Mar-lee had told them. They shook their heads. No, they did not want crimp, whatever that was. A twinkle in his eyes, the parrot nodded at them. Then he looked at the haughty alpacas and smiled.

“Then crimp you shall have!” He launched himself from the branch and flew circles around and around the many haughty alpacas. Faster and faster he flew.   The wind of his passage was like a great cyclone, throwing up a gigantic dark cloud of dust and roaring with the voice of ten thousand jaguars. The haughty alpacas were lost from sight within the tornado.

Gradually, the wind of the trickster’s passage began to slacken. Slower and slower he flew. Then the parrot alighted on the pine tree branch. As the roaring subsided, the dark cloud of dust settled. The trickster let out a loud raucous laugh.

“Behold your crimp!”

The haughty alpacas stared at each other aghast—they all looked like giant cotton balls. Their fleeces were solid blankets of crinkled fiber. They were no longer elegant. They were just silly looking fluffy creatures—cute, irresistibly cute, but certainly not elegant. No, not at all. Instantly, their haughty   demeanors turned into deepest chagrin. All the other animals came to see what the ruckus was about and howled in laughter at the fluffy alpacas. All the fluffy alpacas could do was stand with toothy embarrassed grins.

“Wait a minute, you can’t be alpacas?” cried the llamas, but the silly fluffy alpacas hung their heads and nodded yes they were. “If you’re alpacas,” the llamas howled with glee, “what kind are you?” But the llamas were laughing so hardily, it sounded as if they said, “Huacaya?”

“Huacaya!” cried the toucans.

“Huacaya!” cried the coati-mondi.

And that’s what these fluffy alpacas are still called to this very day.

Then the trickster flew over to the nice alpacas and landed on the ground. In a flash of dazzling lights and a riff of wailing guitars, the parrot transformed into the great god Mar-lee who smiled at his beautiful alpacas. “Suri, you have said to apologize to all those animals the nasty alpacas insulted. And Suri all shall call you from this day forward. You remembered your manners, and above all, you kept the faith, man. Though you wisely turned down the trickster’s gift, now I, the one, the only Mar-lee, bestow on you a wondrous gift. I give you--luster! You will always be the select few, the rarest of all alpaca. And with the luster of my own eyes, your fleece will dazzle all who gaze upon you.”

And so it was, is and ever shall be.

And that, the Rasta say, was how the two types of alpaca came to be: the fluffy, silly, but irresistibly cute Huacaya and the beautiful, elegant, lustrous Suri. To all those lucky enough to own alpaca, whether Huacaya or Suri, remember yours are the most beautiful creatures in the world. Treasure them.   Keep the faith, man. And be happy!

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Start your alpaca adventure today! Call 352-628-9980 or 727-244-5522 or email us to schedule a farm visit. We look forward to showing off our herd and talking alpacas with you.