Master Storyteller Joe Hayes
From his book "The
Day It Snowed Tortillas"
This is the story of
a man and his wife who had just one son. He was a good boy, both
likable and hardworking, but sometimes a little slow to learn.
One day the parents told
the boy he would have to go look for work and bring some money into
the family, as they were very poor. So the boy set out and soon
came to a ranch and began to work there. At the end of the first
month, the rancher paid the boy one silver coin, and the boy started
for home to give the money to his parents.
On the way, the boy met
an old, old man with a long gray beard. "Buenas tardes," the
boy greeted him." What are you doing here on the road?"
"I'm selling advice,"
the man said. And the man told the boy that for one silver coin
he might receive some advice of great value. So the boy handed the
coin to the old man, who whispered in his ear:
Dondequiera que fueras,
Haz lo que vieras.
Wherever you may go,
do as you see others
The boy walked on home
repeating that advice over and over to himself. When he got home,
and his parents learned that he had spent all his wages on one piece
of advice, they scolded him sharply and told him to go back to work.
The boy returned to the
ranch and worked another month. Again he received his silver coin
and started for home. Again he met the old man, who said his second
bit of advice was even more valuable than the first. The boy paid
him, and received these words:
Si eres casado,
Que tenga cuidado.
If you're a married man,
Be on your guard.
The boy walked on, repeating
the rhyme to himself. When he arrived at home, his parents were
furious. "Foolish boy!" they shouted. "We're depending on you to
help us with the money you make, and you waste it on advice. Here's
somemore good advice-go back to work and don't come home until you
have some money to offer!
They chased the boy from
the house, and he returned to the ranch. You can guess what happened
at the end of the month. Again he met the old man on the road. But
this time he hesitated. "If I spend this money, I can't go home,"
"What is money?" asked
the old one. "Money comes and it goes. Good advice will last you
all your life." And the boy paid his coin to the old man once again.
In return, the old one told him:
Aunque pobre, eres sano;
Trabajo con la mano.
Although poor, you're a healthy man;
Earn your living with your hands.
With that, the old man
disappeared. The boy thought, "Now I can never go home. If I do,
they'll chase me off again. I'll go into the world and seek my fortune."
And he set out for a foreign land.
After traveling a long
time he came to a city built around a great castle. The boy made
his way to the castle gate, and there he saw a troop of soldiers
marching back and forth with rifles on their shoulders. Suddenly
the boy remembered the first bit of advice he had bought. "I must
do what I see being done," he said to himself.
He had no rifle, so he
picked up a broom that he saw leaning against a nearby wall and
fell in with the soldiers.
Now it just so happened
that the Princess was looking out from her window at that moment,
and there is something you must know about her-she was very sad.
Indeed, she hadn't laughed in years. She had been sad for so long
that her father, the King, had declared that any man who could make
her laugh could marry her!
When the Princess saw
the boy take up a broom and march along with the soldiers, she burst
forth in peals of laughter. The boy was immediately brought into
the castle, to become the Princess's husband!
But there is something
more you must know. The reason for the Princess's sadness was that
she had been married a hundred times, but each of her husbands had
disappeared on their wedding night, never to be seen again. It was
whispered that some horrible monster had eaten them!
Well, the boy got married
to the Princess, and after the wedding feast they went up to her
chambers. But the boy remembered the second piece of advice. "I'm
a married man now," he told himself. "I'd better be careful." So
he made up his mind to stay awake all night and be on his guard.
Just at midnight he was
beginning to doze off when he heard a slithering and hissing sound.
He opened his eyes, and there, not two feet from his face, was the
gaping mouth of a great serpent! Its eyes were bright yellow, and
its long red tongue flashed in and out of its mouth.
Jumping up, the boy seized
a sword that hung on the wall, and chopped at the snake until he
killed it. That was the monster that had eaten the other bridegrooms-but
now it was dead.
In the morning when everyone
saw that the Princess's husband was alive, a big celebration was
called. It lasted for seven days and seven nights. But the boy kept
thinking about the third advice he had bought-although poor, you're
a healthy man; earn your living with your hands.
"This dancing and feasting
is all very nice," the boy told his wife, "but my advice tells me
I should be working with my hands." And he declared that the next
day he would go find work.
"You're married to a
princess," his wife told him. "You don't have to work."
But he insisted. "Your
money is yours. I must still earn my own." In the morning he went
to the palace of a neighboring king and asked for work. He was put
to work building a wall with some other laborers.
The other workmen soon
saw that the boy knew nothing about laying stone or mixing mortar,
and he struck them as a bit foolish. They all began to make fun
of him. Finally the boy grew angry. "You can say what you like,"
he told his fellow workers. "But I am married to a princess. Can
any of you say as much?"
Of course the other workers
didn't believe him. One of them reported to the King that the boy
was boasting and pretending to be royalty, claiming that he was
married to a princess. The King was enraged and sent for the boy.
But when he saw what a simple fellow he was, the King laughed. "So
you claim to be a nobleman," he said.
"No, Your Majesty," the
boy replied. "But my wife is a princess."
Now the King laughed
louder. But the boy told him, "If you don't believe me, wait until
noon. You'll see when she brings me my lunch."
The King was growing
annoyed. "Yes, I'll wait until noon, and if I don't see a princess
coming with your lunch, you may expect to spend the rest of your
life in my dungeon!"
"Fine," said the boy.
"And if you do see a princess, what will you give me?"
"If you're married
to a princess," the King roared, "I'll pay you your weight in gold!"
The boy went back to
work on the wall, and just at 12 o'clock he called to the other
workers, "Look! Here comes my wife."
Up the road came a carriage
drawn by 12 white horses. In front rode 50 mounted soldiers, and
50 more rode behind. The carriage stopped in front of the workmen,
and the Princess descended and gave the boy his lunch. The King
was watching from his window, and when he saw the Princess he began
cursing and muttering to himself. But there was no getting out of
The boy was weighed,
and an equal weight of gold from the King's treasury was measured
out and given to him. Now with his own money-half of which he sent
to his parents-the boy returned home with the Princess. And since
they lived happily for the rest of their lives, there's really nothing
more to tell about them.
To order "The Day It Snowed
Tortillas" or other books by Joe Hayes, visit Cinco
© Joe Hayes
Joe Hayes Books at Cinco
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