The Day It Snowed Tortillas
Master Storyteller Joe Hayes
From his book by the
Here is a story about a woman who was
married to a woodcutter. The man was good at his work. He could
chop down a tree in no time at all. He would split it up into firewood
and take it into the village and sell it. And he made a good living.
But he wasn't very well educated. He
didn't know how to read or write. And he wasn't very bright, either.
He was always doing foolish things. But his wife was a very clever
woman, and she could get her husband out of the trouble his foolishness
was always getting him into.
One day the man was far off in the mountains
cutting firewood. And at the end of the day, when he started down
the trail to go home, he saw three leather bags by the side of the
trail. He went over and opened the first bag, and it was full of
gold! He looked into the second bag. It was full of gold, too. And
so was the third.
He took the three bags of gold home
and showed them to his wife. She said, "Don't tell anyone you found
this gold. Some robbers must have hidden it in the mountains. And
if they find out we have it, they might kill us to get it back again."
But then she thought, "Oh, no. My
husband can never keep a secret." And then she came up with
a plan. She told him, "Before you do anything else, go to the village
and get me some flour. Get me a hundred pounds of flour."
The man walked off to the village grumbling
to himself: "I've been working out in the mountains all day long.
And now she wants me to bring home a hundred pounds of flour." But
he bought a big sack of flour and lugged it home to his wife.
His wife said, "Oh, thank you! You've
been working awfully hard. Why don't you go lie down and rest for
He liked that idea. He went into the
bedroom and lay down. And he fell asleep. As soon as he fell asleep,
his wife started to make tortillas with the flour. She made one
batch after another. She made tortillas until the stack went clear
up to the ceiling in the kitchen. And then she carried the tortillas
outside and threw them all over the ground.
The man was so tired that he slept through
the evening and all night long. He didn't wake up until the next
morning. When he woke up and looked outside, he saw that the ground
was covered with tortillas. "What's this?" the man asked his wife.
His wife said, "Oh, my goodness! It
must have snowed tortillas last night!"
"Snowed tortillas? I've never heard
of such a thing."
"You're not very well educated if you've
never heard of it snowing tortillas," the woman said. "You'd better
go to school and learn something." She made him get dressed inhis
Sunday suit, and she packed him a lunch, and she sent him off to
The woodcutter didn't know how to read
or write, so he was put in the class with the youngest children.
The teacher asked questions and the children raised their hands
enthusiastically, but the woodcutter didn't know the answers to
any of the questions.
He got more and more embarrassed. Finally
he couldn't take it any longer. He jumped up and stomped out of
the school. He went home and grabbed his ax. He told his wife, "I've
had enough education. I'm going to chop some firewood."
"That's fine," his wife said. "You just
go ahead and do your work."
And then about a week later, just as
his wife expected, three robbers showed up at the house. "Where's
the gold your husband found?" the biggest one demanded.
The woman acted innocent. "Gold?" she
said. "I don't know anything about any gold."
"Come on!" said the robber. "Your husband's
been telling everyone in the village he found three bags of gold.
They belong to us. You'd better give them back."
"Did my husband say that? Oh, that man!
He says the strangest things. I don't know anything about your gold."
"We'll find out," the robber said. "We'll
wait right here until he gets home."
The robbers stayed around the house
all day, sharpening their knives and cleaning their pistols. In
the evening they looked out and saw the man coming home. They ran
to him and said, "Where's the gold you found?"
The man scratched his head. "The gold?
My wife hid it somewhere." And he called out, "Wife, what did you
do with that gold?"
"I don't know what you're talking about,"
she said. "I don't know anything about any gold."
"Sure you do," he said. "Don't you remember?
It was the day before it snowed tortillas. I came home with three
bags of gold. And then the next morning, you made me go to school."
The robbers looked at one another. "Did
he say it snowed tortillas? And his wife makes him go to school?"
They shook their heads. "This poor man is out of his head!" And
the robbers went away, thinking that the woodcutter was crazy and
was just saying a lot of nonsense. And they never came back again.
So the woodcutter and his good wife
had three bags of gold. And since they never could find out who
the gold really belonged to, they just had to keep it all themselves
Joe Hayes, Storyteller
Joe Hayes, professional storyteller
and SFAOL contributor, has performed in hundreds of schools, libraries,
museums and parks. He tells folktales from many cultures, and among
his favorites are the local cuentos, the Hispanic tales of
New Mexico. A highlight of every summer in Santa Fe, for children
and adults alike, are his storytelling sessions outside the tepee
at the Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe.
In 1982, Mariposa Printing and Publishing
company in Santa Fe presented 10 of these stories in "The Day
It Snowed Tortillas." Now in its ninth printing, the book has
become a regional favorite and has brought delight to readers throughout
From the melodic song of "La Hormiguita"to
the classic lament of "La Llorana," "The Day It Snowed Tortillas"
is a collection that will captivate hearts for years to come. If
you enjoy the stories of Joe Hayes on SFAOL, you can order this
book or others he has written by visiting Cinco