June 24, 2008

Word(s) of the Week: Cucubano and Cucullo, Plus Tony Croatto

Tonight I was outside, enjoying the breezy dusk we were having here. It's summertime, of course, and the cool nights nearly make up for the muggy days. Anyways, I called my friend over to look at the fireflies, which were everywhere. She was pretty impressed with how many there were... enough, I suppose, to call her mom and tell her about it.

"You know, we have these at home," she told me afterward. "I just forgot. They're called cucubanos... Tony Croatto has a song about them that Mom started singing for me. You should write about him."

First things first, cucubanos aren't exactly fireflies, but they are related. They're some kind of click beetle, supposedly. Technically Puerto Rico has its own real fireflies named cucullos. They're pretty similar though, both emitting a green light. Here's a video of cucullos, in case you wanted to see.

They're pretty easy to forget, too. Most live out in the country, since they can't find mates with all the light pollution.

So then who is Tony Croatto? Well... he is an Italian singer who, after having a more or less successful career in other parts of Latin America and Spain, eventually came to Puerto Rico to make country (jíbaro) music. What's most remarkable about him, besides that he was able to take the many rhythms and melodies of all parts of the island and refresh them, was that he truly adopted Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico truly adopted him. Even though he died in 2005, there is still a lot of love for him in the island.

If you want to know more, Wikipedia has a great entry on his life. Worth reading, definitely.

Oh, and here's the link to the song "Cucubano". Really nice.


Minerva said...

Yes, there is lots of cucullos in rural Puerto Rico. Every time I climb up to my casita in the dark, with my headlamp on (otherwise I would not see the path through the jungle) they swarm all around. And often, when I happen to wake up during the night, due to some - loud - cat mischief, I see a wayward cucullo, or two, dancing under the ceiling.

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cucubanos is very similar to fireflies. cucullos a real fireflies of Puerto Rico