The Smiling Rabbit

An old man and his wife lived in a little house made of straw. They were very poor and all they owned were a rabbit and a young jaguar. When the old couple used up their last ear of corn, they decided to eat the rabbit and started heating water to cook him. When he saw that, the jaguar said to the rabbit:

-You won't get out of this one. The old people are going to eat you and they will give me a piece.

-No, my jaguar friend, -said the rabbit- the old folk are heating water to make hot chocolate for breakfast.

-That's not true. They are heating the water to cook you.

-Not at all. What's more, I can prove it. Get into my cage and you'll see; they'll give you the first chocolate.

The trusting jaguar went into the cage, the rabbit closed it and ran off. A long time went by and the jaguar tired of waiting for the old people to bring him his chocolate. When he realized that the rabbit had tricked him, he broke the cage and went after him.

After walking and walking, he found him in a cave of the kind they call sahkaberas (caves where people mine white earth). He was very angry and he showed his teeth as he said:

-I caught you, rabbit! I'm going to eat you.

-What's the matter, my friend? What are you talking about? I don't know you. I have lived here for a long time. Now excuse me, can't you see I am very busy?

My house is falling down.

-Oh, so you are not the one who tricked me?

-Of course not! But, please help me. Lean against this wall while I go get a log to hold it up and keep it from falling. And don't let go or it might crush you. So the jaguar stood on his hind legs and held up the wall.

A long time went by and the jaguar was tired. When he saw that the wall didn't fall down, he realized that he had been tricked again. He took off after the deceitful rabbit, even angrier than before.

This time he found him hanging from an elastic vine that made him go up and down. The rabbit was so happy thinking of how he had fooled the jaguar that he didn't notice when the latter took a great leap, pulled on the vine with all his strength and then suddenly let go. The rabbit went up and up through the air holding his belly and laughing, and finally he reached the moon. That is why on nights when the moon is full and red you can still see the rabbit bending over holding his stomach with laughter.

Source: CONAFE, Así cuentan y juegan en el Mayab, Mexico, 1993.
Found on the Embassy of Mexico website (http://www.embassyofmexico.org/).



No one remembers when Cuca came to town riding on a mule. All they know is that it didn't stop raining all that day and the river grew bigger than ever until it overflowed and flooded in several places.

A little while after she came, Cuca built a hut by the river and soon became famous for her remedies that cured all ills, in addition to her skill in predicting the future and making powders to prevent evil spells or attract love. Everyone treated her with respect because they were afraid of that woman who also knew another kind of witchcraft; and those who did not consult her or denied her a favor had very strange things happen to them: their beans went sour, milk curdled, or they fell sick and did not get well until they went to see her.

Months after she arrived, a lot of people stayed away from the sorceress out of fear. And then Cuca took her mule and left the town. At first everyone was glad, but a few days later she came back with a girl and a little boy, whom she introduced as her niece and nephew.

From that time on, chickens and cattle were not safe. It was like a plague of coyotes.

Calves and yearlings started disappearing more and more often, until the ranchers set up guards at night to watch over their cattle. Several nights went by without them seeing any sign of animals. One night when there was a full moon, Simón, one of that ranchers, fired on a huge coyote. He didn't kill it, but a bullet struck one of the animal's hind legs.

Next day, Cuca took her things and left town together with her niece and nephew. All the townspeople gathered to talk about her departure, since before leaving in a great huff, she said that she would never come back because the place wasn't safe. She said that that morning, when she went to the river to wash, a stray bullet hit her in the leg.

In the afternoon, when Simon arrived and told them how he had shot a coyote, no one said anything, but they all thought of Cuca. Now when anyone mentions her, they call her Cuca Coyote.

Source: CONAFE, ¡Que me siga la tambora!, Mexico, 1996. Found on the Embassy of Mexico website (http://www.embassyofmexico.org/).