Archive for the ‘Folktale’ Category


“Be prepared.”

That’s a piece of wisdom that anyone who backpacks can appreciate. When hiking in the wilderness one has to rely on self-preservation. It’s You and Mother Nature. How you have prepared for the hike and how you handle any issues that arise is a difference between enjoying your adventure and telling the tale . . . or not making it.

This is harsh reality.

Walking the Camino is not a walk thru a city park. You will hit a variety of terrain from mountians, valleys, farmland, forests, towns, cities and industrial areas. Be vigilant and prepared with both mind and body.

When my husband decided to walk the 500 miles from St Jean Pied de Port in 2015 to Santiago I would have loved to go with him. I wasn’t ready though plus I knew at that time he needed to do this alone. Now I have had 2 years to get my self “up to speed” for the 600-mile hike that we plan to take. I have actually been quite surprised at how quickly my body has come back into shape after too much neglect.

I also have two really good pair of boots that I have broken in with the daily walks and weekly long hikes that we are doing.


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Those comfortable boots that you have loved for years?  Maybe not a good idea.


Taking care of your feet is something often talked about in the various articles and web sites on El Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Good quality boots, good health practices and…moleskin for blisters.   When my husband was getting prepared for his walk the first thing I told him was that he needed to get a good pair of boots and to bring moleskin with him.

“Moleskin? What’s that?” He asked.

I showed him and told him that whenever he felt the beginnings of a blister that he was to put this on it and leave it on. I was thanked via text many times by him while he was on his first walk. He also encountered people who didn’t take care of their feet and suffered gravely for it.


My husband’s feet with moleskin…and no blisters


To me it’s common sense to take care of yourself and make sure that your feet are well cared for since they will be taking you on a long journey. It should be common sense…but common sense is not always there.

Which reminds me of a story…I am a storyteller…

Anansi the Spider decided that he wanted all the common sense in the world for himself. So he took a gourd and collected all the common sense he could find and placed it in that gourd and stuck a cork in the opening good and tight. He then tied a rope around the gourd so that he could carry it around his neck. He found this too cumbersome though and decided that he needed to hide the gourd full of common sense somewhere where it would not be found. He decided high up in the tallest tree would be a good place.

So one day he began to climb, up and up and up. But that gourd swinging around his neck between his belly and the tree just kept getting in the way. It was a difficult climb even with his eight legs.

Far below he heard a small voice, “If you put the gourd behind you you’ll be able to clime easier!”

“What?!?” Anansi didn’t quite hear what the voice said. He looked down and far below standing beside the tall tree was a small boy. His hands where cupped around his mouth and he repeated even louder:

“If … you … put … the … gourd … behind … you … you … will … be … able … to … climb … easier!” He called out again.

Anansi had heard the boy this time. He looked at the tree trunk in front of him; he looked his belly so round; he looked at the gourd full of common sense between the two.

“What?!?” He thought to himself. Here he had all this common sense…all the common sense of the whole world and a little boy still had more than he. What good was it doing him? Nothing.

So Anansi popped the cork and let the common sense ride the four winds. It was taken all over the world and some people ended up with a lot of common sense, some a little and … well others … ended up with none at all.


Take care of you feet. They will be carrying all the weight.

Boots1328   The boots that will carry me along






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October is the month of terror.  In the U.S. children look forward to Halloween:  The Night where they can dress up and be someone else as they go to parties and walk their neighborhoods, door to door, asking for tricks or treats.  In Latin America November 1st, El Dia de los Muertos, is the day families honor their ancestors with festivals, music, food, and flowers.

October is also the month of stories about ghosts, ghouls, and creatures of the night.  We love the safety of a good scary tale that creates chills of fear under the skin.  Many of these stories, though, were not meant as Halloween tales.  They were teaching tales:  this will happen to you if you do not behave (La Cegua), or watch out for strangers you meet in the forest (Mister Fox, The Grandmother’s Tale), or tales of greed (Sunday Seven).  Witches, ghouls, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and any other critters of our imagination can make us shriek and jump in delightful fear around October or around a campfire.  We love a good frightful tale.

While living in Costa Rica I met some new critters of the night: the siren, La Cegua, who goes after men who should not be out at night drinking and womanizing; the three witches in Sunday Seven who give riches to the one who helped them and, well, other, not so pleasant things to the greedy.  Some of these stories reflect the Costa Rican culture from the changes that were made to tales from Europe and Japan while others reflect the originality of the Costa Rican culture.  Whether re-adapted or original these are tales that were born on the very soil of Costa Rica.

One tale, the one that sent chills of fear through my husband, Guillermo, when he was a child, is El Cadejo (kaw day ho).

There are two versions of how El Cadejo became.  The first is about a priest who did something so terrible that he was cursed and became El Cadejo.  The second is about a boy who would place an ox yoke under his bed sheet and sneak out of his house at night to party, return home in the early hours, and sleep all day in the shade of a tree or bush.  His father, not knowing that he was sneaking out at night, would find him sleeping instead of working the farm.  He finally became so angry that he cursed his son:   “Echado y a cuatro patas seguirás por los siglos de los siglos, amén.” (“You will continue lying down on all your four legs for centuries and centuries, amen.”) And so the boy turned into El Cadejo.

El Cadejo is a dog:  a big black dog from Hell.  His fur is hard, oily, and bristly, not what one would want to touch.  His eyes reflect the fires of hell and around his neck is a thick chain (hence the name El Cadejo) that weighs him down as he drags it along with a clankety, clankety, clank…  He appears before those who have done something wrong as a warning.  He stands there with those flaming eyes staring at the accused—a stare that sends icy chills through the veins.

Happy Halloween!

Clankety, clankety, clank…

Drawing of El Cadejo by Geannina Gutiérrez, ©2012

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