Cultural myths….Buried treasure

treasure pic

Once upon a time, there was a flojo (lazy boy) whose mother told him to go out and gather leña (wood) for the fire. So out he went, hither and yon, picking up sticks at a leisurely pace. Spotting a mesquite tree, he decided he would rest from his labors. Drawing close, he came across a wooden chest in the shade. Curious, he lifted the lid and found it brimming with gold coins. The chest was too heavy for him to carry he did have all that leña (wood) to carry, so he decided he would leave the treasure there. He gathered his sticks and headed home.

He told his mother about the treasure he had found under the mesquite tree and she scolded him for not bringing even one coin back with him. He replied that if the treasure were meant for him, it would come to him. The mother threw up her hands in exasperation.

An ambitious neighbor happened to be passing when the boy was telling this story to his mother and heard everything. He dropped what he was doing and went in search of the treasure.

Just as the boy had said, the neighbor found the chest under the mesquite tree. He chortled in glee and threw open the lid only to discover that it was full of horse manure. Furious, he hauled the chest and manure to the boy’s house and threw it all on the roof.

Now, the house was old and rickety and the roof had several places where the laminas (roofing sheets) had rotted through. Some of the manure fell through those holes in the roof and landed on the boy’s bed. Imagine his surprise when the he woke the next morning covered in gold coins. Because the treasure was meant for him it had come to him just as he said.

This is just one example of local legends concerning treasures. No wonder my son has difficulty with Mexican moral values. I’m not sure what lesson this story is supposed to teach–that one should wait passively for good fortune, that one should accept his or her lot in life and not make efforts to better it–or what?

digging treasure

My husband’s mother once had a dream where a woman appeared to her and told her that there was a treasure buried in the back room of their house in Cerano. The woman said that this treasure would be my mother-in-law’s if she followed her instructions exactly. If not, she would take one of her children. She was not to leave the house at midnight when she heard dogs bark that night or both her child and the treasure would be taken from her.

My mother-in-law woke very excited. She bullied her husband into digging up the floor in the back room in search of the treasure. As she was pregnant, my mother-in-law couldn’t do much digging herself. My father-in-law dug and dug, from early morning until midnight, but did not find a thing. At midnight, they heard dogs barking outside and in her concern for the livestock, my mother-in-law ran out to scare the dogs away, but there were no dogs.

Remembering what the woman had told her, my mother-in-law ran back into the house, but it was too late. She began to have labor pains. All the next day she labored to give birth, but when she finally was able to push, there was no baby, only fluid and blood. The woman had taken her 12th child right from her womb and the treasure was never found.

This story is repeated as fact in my husband’s family. Here there is a strong tendency to believe in the messages given in dreams. A curandera (healer) is a respected position in the community and has the ability to not only treat with herbs but interpret tarot cards and dreams. I admit there are things in México that defy other rational explanation.

treasure map

Another local legend has it that one late afternoon, a campesino (farmer) was walking home after he had collected leña (wood) for the evening meal. Out of the blue, a stone flew through the air and hit the farmer in the head. He carried on a bit, running back and forth, looking for the person who had thrown that rock. A second came and hit the campesino (farmer) in the back. Try as he might, he could not locate the source of the stones. As he stood confused in the road, a hole opened at his feet. That was too much for him and he scrambled off the road towards home.

His wife, after hearing the story, scolded him. Everyone knows after all, that a treasure comes to the person it was meant for, but he had lost his opportunity for wealth because of his fear. Second chances are never given.

So my husband and his buddy Bigotes (mustache) were talking one day and the conversation turned to treasures. According to Bigotes, there is an area rumored to be the spot of a hidden treasure near the base of La Yacata. So the two of them made plans to go poking about and see if they could find the treasure. Bigotes claimed to have a magic ring that when spun at the treasure site, will tell the seekers the method to obtain that treasure. For example, the seeker must demonstrate valiente (bravery) in some way if that is what the ring spells out. Of course, reading the small print clause for treasure seeking you will find that someone must “comer tierra” (eat dirt) or in other words die for the treasure to be found. But remember the treasure can only be found by those that are intended to find it.

Bigotes had other things to do that afternoon, so my husband went on his own, although I discouraged him since I didn’t really want him to “comer tierra.” But when has he ever listened to me? He went exploring and didn’t find the treasure per se, but came back whistling with a feed bag full of clanking things. He had found a pile of trash and rummaged about in it, pulling out wires and metal things. Delighted with his find, he took them the next day to where they buy fierro viejo (old metal) and received nearly $500 pesos–truly a treasure–at least for us!

My husband and his "treasure"

My husband and his “treasure”




Filed under Mexican Cultural Stories

2 responses to “Cultural myths….Buried treasure

  1. Pingback: Surviving Years in La Yacata | Surviving Mexico

  2. Pingback: Outdoor cooking | Surviving Mexico

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