Dunlaps in San Salvador

Online journal of the Dunlaps' adventures in San Salvador.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Salvadoran Legend

This legend was retold by my student, Raul. So far Raul has been pretty quiet in my class, but I have learned that he really likes to lift weights and he lives to play video games. Enjoy his story!

Salvadoran people are originally of Mayan descent, but eventually they became a mixture of Spanish and Mayan after the Spanish invaded “The New World” and took over Central America. The effect, in relation to culture, was that legends became mixed as well. The result was the incredible stories of the Mayan that related to gods and strange creatures joined with the stories of the Spanish culture that related to supernatural events with ghosts and demons.

That combination created many new myths that are now part of the Salvadoran culture. One example of a myth from El Salvador is La Siguanaba, which tells of this beautiful woman who was punished by a god because she wouldn’t take care of her son. She was too concerned with attracting men, so the god cursed her into becoming this evil, ugly, and disgusting creature. It is said that even to this day, men, when coming late at night to their house, may find a very pretty woman along the way that seduces them. When they get close to her, she turns into a demon. Those taken by her are never seen again. If you listen carefully during the night, near small towns, you can hear her laugh when she gets her next victim.

The legend of La Carreta Chillona began in Spain, direct evidence of the mixture of cultures. A little boy named Terencio was adopted by a priest who taught him how to read and write. The priest always tried to convince the boy to become a priest. Terencio would always say no, although he promised he would be a good man who would help others. Eventually, the priest died of old age, and Terencio moved to another town where he began to work for a doctor. He tagged along more for the urge to learn than to actually help. With time, he learned what he needed to know. A few nights later he took advantage of this group of people that were going to take a ship to go to some distant place. He told him he was a doctor and would offer his services to them if they just took him with them; the people said yes.

Eventually, Terencio appeared in San Salvador. Because no one knew him, he lied and said he was a miraculous doctor. He began to practice his “profession,” and for the people who died in his hands, he said, “It´s God´s will.” Those who were lucky and didn’t die had to pay him in some way. Eventually, he became rich. One night, when Terencio was coming back from a bar, he heard a noise, as if it were footsteps. He began to walk faster and faster, until he heard the voice of the priest that took care of him when he was a child. The priest was disappointed because of all the people he had killed or had made suffer.

Thus, the ghost forced him to pick up the bones of all his victims and told him to build a charriot. When he was done, the priest told Terencio he was already dead, and he was to wander for all eternity until he laid to rest all the bones of his victims in an appropriate cemetary. It is said that around midnight, Terencio wanders in San Salvador near small towns and villages mourning. You can hear the sound of chains and bones cracking in the distance, and there have been several accounts where people have testified to seeing him.


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