There once was a beautiful young armadillo. Her scaly armored plates were the color of a creamy pink salmon. Her nails were exquisitely long and her lovely eyes were small like tiny obsidian pebbles; she was a pink fairy armadillo. Her name was Rosa. Her greatest desire in life was to become the world’s greatest opera singer. She had a phenomenal voice, but her only problem was that she lived far from where anyone would hear her. Every night Rosa would abscond from her burrow and serenade the moon until the neighborhood panther tried to eat her. She loved her home in Argentina, but longed for something more. She longed to sing in Paris or London, like a real opera star. Her friends would laugh at her and tell her how foolish it was to want anything other than the ant larvae, snails and worms that were so abundant in the sand near her home.
One night while Rosa was singing to the stars the panther crept up behind her and snatched her up in his paws. She tried to jump to startle him enough that she might escape, To no avail, he was expecting that. “Finally I have caught you,” he said. “I have been trying to catch you for years, at last you are mine. I will keep you at my home and you will sing me to sleep every morning.” The young armadillo was so terrified she had no idea what to do next. She trembled as the panther carried her to his home among the palmetto near the Rio Parana. The morning sun was beginning to show under the tops of the trees and the sky became a dull grey color. “Now sing. Or I shall change my mind and eat you. Even though you will only make an awfully small snack for me” said the panther. So the tiny armadillo began to sing. Before very long the panther was asleep. The panther held tightly to the little armadillo. Rosa was so very tired and her small eyes burned in the light of the rising sun. However she knew it was only a matter of time before her voice no longer thrilled the panther. Then Rosa would become just another meal, like so many of her cousins. She therefore resolved to wriggle free from his grasp. Once she had accomplished this she buried herself in the sand a short way off. She only slept a few hours because she knew soon the panther would awake soon; he would discover her missing, and surely track and eat her.
Rosa poked her head out of the ground and sat face to face with a southern river otter. “I heard you sing, and I want to help you escape,” said the otter in a whisper, “climb on my back and I will take you anywhere you want.” Rose had heard stories about the fierce river otters, However she also knew that the panther would only be able to track her scent until he reached the river. On the otters back her scent would be carried away in the river. She climbed on the otters head and he quickly swam downstream. “Where are we headed Senorita?” asked the otter. “I would like to go to Paris,” said the Armadillo. “I don’t know where that is,” said the otter, “but I will take you to the ocean. There, you may find a large ship that might take you where you want to go.” It took them weeks to travel south and reach the sea, Rosa was exhilarated, she had never been away from her home before and was thrilled at all of the new places she was seeing. Once they reached the ocean she bid the otter farewell, and turned to the docks to find a way onto a ship.
Rosa sat on the pier overlooking the ocean for several hours when she noticed the sky turning pink, and realized that she had nowhere to sleep for the day. For armadillos are nocturnal, you see. As the brilliant stars began to disappear, she sang herself a little song. Quite suddenly she was startled by a strange voice, “Vye of all zee strange creetures I have seen, you are by far ze strangeest. I shall call you Chanteuse,” She turned around to find a big hulk of a sailor, his hair was long, his face was stubbly, and his shoulders were huge. “Where are you bound leetle creature, are you a mole rat?” The little armadillo looked around not sure if she was being addressed or not. A mole rat she certainly was not, “I am a pink fairy armadillo, and I want to go to Paris to sing!” she said. “To Paris you shall go zen,” said the sailor, and he gently lifted her and put her inside his deep, smelly coat pocket. She felt warm, and for the first time since leaving her home, very safe. Rosa fell fast asleep. She awoke a few nights later and found herself gently rocking in a dim room, there was one small circular window through which light was filtering. She was sleeping in an old tin mug padded with a musty smelling handkerchief. She realized that she was truly hungry. She looked about her and also noticed a small plate with assorted crusts of bread, and pieces of meat. It was different from what she was used, to but at least the meat seemed a little more familiar. She steered clear of the bread though. After that she to gazed around her benefactor’s room. It was very dirty, not like the good earthy dirt of her home in the ground, but more the muck of oily machines. She wiped her little foot against the desk on which she sat and it left an ugly black smudge on her toe. Rosa also realized that she didn’t really care for the motion of the ship; it made her stomach feel queasy. She suddenly felt an uncontrollable urge to, . . lay down, which she did. In fact Rosa rested for the remainder of the journey.
When they arrived in Paris the little armadillo was shocked at how vastly different the landscape was from her own familiar surroundings. There were narrow streets lined with tall shops, beautiful parks dotting the city. There was barely any earth that an armadillo could dig into and call home, there certainly was none of the soft loose sand that she loved to glide through. “Zere you are, leetle chanteuse. Eetz time to sing your leetle ‘eart out,” said the kindly sailor as he set her down underneath the largest tower that she had ever seen. It was in fact the Eiffel tower, but she didn’t know that. She looked around. The moon was high in the sky. The city lights were blinding, but Rosa had come all this way to sing. It was much too late to turn back now. So she sang, “Aaaa-ve Mari-a. . . . ” crowds of people began to gather round her while she sang, at first many of them didn’t know where the beautiful voice was coming from. Then members of the crowd would point, and gawk. Rosa finished her song, and the audience applauded and cheered, begging for an encore. One of the men in the crowd rushed to her and said, “I am the director of the la Palais Garnier, we must have you!” The little armadillo was ecstatic. She of course agreed and was featured in many productions. She played Cosette in one production, and starred in La Boheme. Her voice was unbelievable. People came from all over the world to see her perform. They left the theater with tears in their eyes.
The leaves changed from lush green to orange and red, then brown. The air turned from a fragrant almost tangible gold color to a cold, frosty blue. Vapor rose from the mouths of pedestrians on the streets. The silhouettes of the passersby went from long willowy figures, to thick bundled figures somewhat resembling lumpy brown marshmallows. It was then that things started to change for little Rosa. Her birthplace in Argentina was much warmer than her new home in Paris. Rosa began to wonder if she might not be better off in Argentina after all. She also missed her family and friends very much, she longed for the company of other armadillos. While she had adoring fans, and the food was superb; few fans really understood her. She was very busy; her shows were booked months in advance. She would spend all waking hours rehearsing for one production or another, until she became very sick. The doctor arrived, “You are not meant to be in a place so frigid. If you do not find a way to stay warm, you will not survive the winter.” Her friend, the kindly sailor was very sorry to hear it, for he had become quite attached to his little friend. She made sure that there was a seat open for him at her shows whenever he was on shore, “Oh chanteuse, what shall you do. You cannot stay ‘ere. I must take you ‘ome eef you are to survive.” The little armadillo cried and agreed that she must leave. So she bade her audience’s, and her friends good-bye. On her return trip however instead of traveling in her friends coat she road in an exquisite berth of her own, lined with satin and the finest silk. It was very beautiful, but at times Rosa wished she were back in the sailors’ warm, simple pocket.
When she arrived back in South America she was relieved to find the weather much warmer. She traveled back to her home in the plains but instead of open grasslands she found large cows roving where her den had been. She looked but her family was nowhere to be found. Her cousin, Jimena, answered that strange men came and put fences up, the next there were huge cows being forced onto their homes. The cows tromped most of the dens in. Rosa felt lost without her family, and not using her talents. She felt intensly alone.
One day her parents walked into the colony, “My dear Rosa!” They exclaimed. “We are so glad to have finally found you, We have searched for so long.” They lived together in the colony for many weeks, one day they heard a great rumbling in the distance, a panicked look crossed her parents faces, and they ran. Rosa realized that there was only one way to tell her story to the world, and that was through song. Rosa took her family and together they wandered for months, when she heard of a famous opera house in Buenos Aires. Rosa settled there, and performed at the Teatro Colon for the rest of her life. She sang of the value of life. She sang of her family, and of her lost home. The beauty of her song charged her audiences to the core.
Pink Fairy Armadillos are actually real creatures and are a threatened species in Argentina. They are also known as Lesser Pichi Ciego.
To learn more about them, take your child to http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/armadillo/
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