Showing posts from October, 2021

The Legend of the Priest with no Head

Tales of mysterious encounters with a headless priest in the dark of night are not uncommonly told among the Salvadoran people.  After the time of the Spanish invasion, when conquerors wielding swords or carrying Bibles established their power, there emerged a legend of an imaginary priest who wanders in the streets and pathways as a lost soul. He appears to those who are out walking in the evening. He is searching for his head.  He, or perhaps his head, lets out screams into the night. Those who see him feel cold and are sometimes paralyzed with fear and cannot speak for days. The story of the Priest with no Head is well-known and frequently told in Tonacatepeque.  Some say the ghost of El Padre sin Cabeza (the headless priest) is real. Some say the story was invented by the church in order to scare indigenous people into becoming Christians. Some who study traditional, Salvadoran tales say this legend was created by enemies of the church.   A painting of the Padre sin Cabeza (headles

The Legend of the Grandmother's Jug

Many of the post-colonial legends from Tonacatepeque were created in order to teach lessons such as: don't go out at night alone, don't be unfaithful to your beloved, you can't hide misbehaviors from the church (or God), bad choices have consequences, etc. Some of the stories, like this one, share a little bit about history, a little bit about nature, and a little bit of humor. This is just one of several "buried treasure" tales which one might be told. Photograph taken at a temporary exhibit in the gallery at Parque Cuscatlán The Legend of the Grandmother's Jug In the olden days, it was customary to use a botija as a safe place in which to keep documents or treasures.  The botija  is like a traditional water jug (maybe shaped like an urn), but we could think of it as a pot, a jar, or any kind of container in which one could keep something. It was the custom of the generations which came before us, to keep any extra money not immediately needed in something l

The Legend of the Flirty Parrot

We walked toward the edge of town. "What's the story about that old church?" I asked. The building looked nearly abandoned. "That is the Iglesia Catolica El Calvario.  They are working on the church, I think, but they still meet. This neighborhood is called El Calvario. When we walk to the edge of town, we say we are going to El Calvario . It's an expression we use because we say at the edge of every town, it is called El Calvario.  'We will meet you at Calvary' means we will meet you at the edge of town." There is a story from this neighborhood of Tonacatepeque, El Calvario. Like many of the legends from Tonaca, this one is meant to cause the listeners to think about their behavior. Thanks to Sonia and the women's group in Tonaca as well as author José María Melgar Callejas for this story. The Legend of the Flirty Parro t    In the outer corridor of a house in El Calvario, there was a bird cage, and inside the cage, there was a guest - a parrot

The Legend of the Bald Buzzard

On an ordinary evening in Tonaca, in an ordinary and dimly lit room, the rhythmic words of an ordinary  story-teller may be heard - ordinary words weaving themselves together in an extraordinary tale. Tonacatepeque is known for its tales.  In multi-generation households, the elders still spin their stories into the imaginations of their grandchildren.  Although many families may not be sitting around lit candles and sharing spooky stories well into the evening, the town's cultural center works with the local schools, community radio station and the mayor's office to keep Tonaca's traditions alive. October begins with the Day of the Child, and in Tonaca, ends with the festival of la Calaviusa*. It seems the perfect month for sharing a few mysterious tales.  Stories passed on through oral tradition often have many versions, because each story teller incorporates not only what they have heard over the years, but also what they themselves have experienced.   After spending more

Just Click: Adiós Septiembre y Hola Octubre

I clicked my way through September, still mostly seeing the sites in motion through the windows as the pandemic continues to impact gathering life, event life, celebration life. September is independence month, so I'll start off with a little tribute to Salvadoran blue and white : San Salvador, resting in the valley under a patriotic sky Getting ready for a big game outside Estadio Cuscatlán Car flags No need to pop into Metro Centro to get your shirts - just make your choice when traffic slows. Obviously a flag...maybe less obviously with wheels... ...and connected to a corn car... ...and now you see it's a train. This mural is one of several painted by the artist known as "El Indio". The murals are being made in conjunction with the  mayor's office in San Salvador to help the community to "recover its values." The idea is to tell stories which reach through time.   What images do you see in this mural? The stoplight at this corner only allows 2 or 3 ca