Friday, 18 July 2008

La Carreta Nagua


La Carreta Nagua

A Nicaragua Folktale provided by Wilberth Medrano 2008

A very interesting figure that is said was born in the minds of those in León is the Carreta Nagua. A bewitched wooden cart comes out at night drawn by two emaciated oxen, their hides tight over their ribcages, guided by Death himself, skeletal in appearance. Others say there are two skeletons, each with a white hood and a candle in hand, leading the beasts along the streets. The wooden wheels make a tremendous creaking sound, so frightful that no neighbor dares go near their window to look out.

The legend of the Carreta Nagua is an expression of the terror that reigned during the Conquest, an indelible footprint of panic in the collective memory of the indigenous peoples. Spanish soldiers raided Indian villages at night because it was difficult to capture them during the day when they were out in the hills and fields.

The conquistadores generally went around with a caravan of oxcarts to round up slaves to labor in the silver mines of Peru. The captured Indians were chained to the posts on the carts. The noise made by the wooden wheels was infernal, one to which the Indians were unaccustomed since these vehicles were introduced to the New World by the Spaniards. They interpreted the sound as a fresh manifestation of the nocturnal spirits that constantly laid siege to the peaceful calm of their villages.

Some of our elders assert that the cart is announcing the death of someone. As it rolls down the deserted streets, the howls of dogs can be heard in the distance. Those who say that they did catch a glimpse of the Carreta Nagua tell how they came down with a tremendous fever or fainted. Others are said to have died of fright at this hair-raising specter from the dark side.

Other tales of sightings tell of how the cart cannot round a corner when it comes to one, but instead simply disappears and reappears on another street. Imagine yourself on a street on the way home at around midnight in the dark of a cloudy night and finding this huge oxcart being guided along by a hooded skeleton (or two). It’s enough to make you fall down dead with fright. Watch out when in León!!

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.