time that the earth had emerged from the sea and the sun had risen in the sky, there lived a macaw whose name was Itzam-Yeh (its-am-YEH), translated as Seven Macaw. Seven Macaw had a very high opinion of himself.
Because his eyes were gemstones and his teeth shone like the Sun itself, he was convinced that, in fact, he was the sun. He was so self-absorbed that he announced that some day he would be the moon, as well.
The Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, felt that Seven Macaw was too boastful and was giving false impressions to the people. Clearly, he was not the sun. The twins decided he needed to be punished.
So the twins made plans to shoot Seven Macaw when they could distract the colorful bird. Finally, they found the perfect time to do so. Seven Macaw was eating lunch in a nance tree. (The nance tree still grows in the wilds of present-day Yucatan and is known for producing a luscious fruit.)
Hunahpu used a hollow pipe called a blowgun to shoot Seven Macaw with a pellet. The gun’s pellet tore through the bird’s mouth, breaking his jaw and injuring his precious eyes. The jewels in his mouth and eyes were severely damaged.
The impact of the shot forced Seven Macaw to fall from the nance tree. However, Seven Macaw was still dangerous. When Hunahpu approached Seven Macaw, the boastful bird bit off the twin’s arm and escaped with it. When he returned to his home, Seven Macaw hung the arm over a fire.
Hunahpu and his brother tried hard to think of a way to get the arm back. Finally, after meeting with an elderly man and woman who were wrinkled, gray, and walked crookedly, the twins came up with a plan. The old couple agreed to pretend they were the twins’ grandparents, and the foursome set out to find Seven Macaw.
When they arrived at Seven Macaw’s house, the old man told the bird that the twins were their grandsons. The old man added that he was an expert in fixing broken jaws and curing damaged eyes. As the twins had hoped, Seven Macaw then asked the grandfather to help him restore his damaged jeweled features.
First, the old man pulled the gemstones out of Seven Macaw’s mouth and eyes and replaced them with kernels of white corn. When the old man was finished and the shiny jewels had been removed from the bird’s face, Seven Macaw could no longer claim he looked like the sun.
Now, he just looked like an average bird. Robbed of his source of conceit and vanity, Seven Macaw no longer had any reason to live, and he keeled over and died. As soon as he was dead, Hunahpu retrieved his arm from above the fireplace and placed it back on his body. It reattached itself perfectly.
Seven Macaw was survived by two sons. One was named Zipacna (zip-ak-NAH), or Alligator. The other was called Two-his-leg, and also called Earthquake. Like his father, Alligator also made boastful claims. He bragged that he was the maker of the mountains.
One day Alligator was resting by the water’s edge when he saw a group of four hundred sons carrying a tree to use as a post for a house they were building. Alligator asked the boys if he could help them. They gladly accepted his offer, and they let Alligator haul the tree to the door of the four hundred boys’ house.
The boys were impressed by Alligator’s strength, but they also felt threatened by it, and believed Alligator might use his strength to hurt them. This strong beast must be killed, they thought.
The four hundred boys put their heads together and came up with what they considered a foolproof way to lead Alligator to his death. First, they would ask Alligator to do them a favor and dig a deep hole in the earth.
When it was done, they would ask Alligator to crawl inside it. Then the boys would throw a wooden beam into the hole. They expected the weight of the beam to land on their trapped victim and crush him to death.
But Alligator was smart. He knew the boys wanted to kill him. So while he was digging the hole, he also unearthed an escape tunnel to a side of the hole. Alligator climbed into the hole, then tucked himself in the safety tunnel.
He called out to the boys, announcing in a loud voice that their hole was complete. The boys then dropped the beam in the hole, unaware that Alligator sat safely to one side.
Convinced that Alligator was dead, the four hundred sons held a celebration. They partied so hard and drank so much that they became intoxicated. In fact, they were so drunk that they never even noticed when Alligator crawled out of his safety tunnel.
Alligator picked up the boys’ house and toppled it on their heads. All of the four hundred boys died under the weight of their home, and it was said that they became the stars in the sky.
The Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, were saddened by the death of the four hundred sons. They considered Alligator as treacherous as the boys had. So the twins planned to kill Alligator just as they had killed his father, Seven Macaw.
The twins planned to catch Alligator by offering him his favorite food, crabs. They crafted a magnificent artificial crab made from prairie grasses, bamboos, and stones. Then they placed it in a canyon at the base of a mountain called Meavan (mee-VAN).
The twins found Alligator in the water and asked him what he was doing. Just as they had hoped, Alligator replied that he was looking for food. He said that he could not find any crabs or fish, and had not eaten for two days.
Excitedly, the twins told Alligator about the gigantic crab they said they had just seen in the canyon at the foot of Meavan. Alligator drooled at the thought of such a treat and begged the twins to take him to it.
So the three journeyed to Meavan with Alligator growing more excited with each step. However, just as he entered the canyon and spied the massive crab, the big mountain collapsed on Alligator’s chest. Alligator could not move and turned to stone.
As it turned out, Seven Macaw’s other son, Two-his-leg, was no less boastful than his father and brother, Alligator. Two-his-leg strongly stated that he was the destroyer of mountains. All he had to do, he bragged, was stamp his feet to make mountains tumble.
One day, Hunahpu and Xbalanque confronted Two-his-leg and told him that recently they had discovered the highest mountain they had ever seen in their lives. They asked Two-his-leg if he thought he could knock down even this mammoth mountain.
With his usual vanity, Two-his-leg assured the twins that he could. To prove his boast, he asked the twins to take him to this mountain. On their way to the mountain, the Hero Twins became hungry.
As was their custom, they pulled out their blowguns and killed a few birds, which they then roasted for dinner. Two-his-leg had no idea that the bird dinner was part of a plan to kill him.
The twins took one bird and cooked it together with a heavy chunk of the earth. Graciously, they invited Two-his-leg to join them for a delicious feast. They offered Two-his-leg a slice of the earth-laden bird, and he ate it and the piece of earth enthusiastically. When they finished their feast, all three got up and walked toward the enormous mountain.
But the weight of the meal he had just eaten made Two-his-leg feel incredibly weak. Suddenly, he could hardly stand on his legs. In that condition, he definitely could not make a mountain crash to the ground.
The Hero Twins tied Two-his-leg up with ease, knocked him down, and killed him. Two-his-leg, otherwise known as Earthquake, has been permanently buried in the ground ever since. And ever after, whenever he moves in his grave, he shakes the world.