Friday, 18 July 2008

La Mocuana


La Mocuana

A Folktale from Nicaragua provided by Wilberth Medrano 2008

The town of La Trinidad is reportedly the source for one of the most well known mythological figures, La Mocuana. Josefa María Montenegro in her book Nicaraguan Legends, has one version of this tale:

“Around 1530, the Spaniards carried out a well-armed expedition into Nicaraguan territory in order to extend their domain and increase their wealth. During that incursion, the Spaniards managed to subdue the Indians of Sébaco that lived by the Moyuá Lagoon. The chief of the tribe, once vanquished, presented the conquistadores with deerskin pouches filled with nuggets of gold.

“The news in Spain of the conquistadores having returned with great wealth drew the attention of a young man who aspired to be a man of the cloth and whose father had died during that incursion. His mind made up, the young man joined in a new expedition and after a long and arduous journey arrived on Nicaraguan soil, where he was well received by the residents who thought he was a priest.

“On arriving in Sébaco, the young man met the beautiful daughter of the cacique and romanced her with intentions of seizing the wealth of her father. The young Indian fell lost in love with the Spaniard and as proof of her love, let him know where her father kept his riches. There are those who say that the Spaniard also fell really in love with the young Indian maiden.

“The cacique, on hearing about the affair between his daughter and the foreigner, made his opposition to the relation clear and they were obliged to run away. But the cacique tracked them down and faced off against the Spaniard, killing him. Then he locked up his daughter, though she was pregnant, in a cave in the hills. Other versions have it that the Spaniard locked up his Indian lover after seizing the treasures.

“The legend tells of how La Mocuana went crazy with time being locked up and later managed to get out through a tunnel, but in doing so she dropped her baby son into an abyss. Ever since, she appears on the road inviting those passing by to her cave. Those that have met her say they never saw her face, only her svelte figure and long beautiful black hair.

“In some places it is told that when La Mocuana finds a newborn, she slashes its throat and leaves a handful of gold for the parents of the infant. Other versions assure us that she takes the infant away, always leaving pieces of gold.”

Legend has it that La Mocuana goes out after 12 midnight dressed in silk and residents of La Trinidad say they have seen her on the Pan-American Highway. Others have tried to follow her into the cave where she hides but found that impossible because of the thousands of bats living there.

There are many other tales left to tell in which the history of our ancestors is interplay between reality and fiction, the visible and the hidden, the mysterious and the day-to-day. The comings and goings of other cultures that clash with the rooted beliefs of our forebears from the Conquest to modern times has made us into a people that creates its own myths and legends as a defense from those other cultures and as an expression of our own.

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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.