By Master Storyteller Joe Hayes

From his book "The Day It Snowed Tortillas"

A long time ago there was a man whose wife had died. He had just one daughter, and her name was Arcia. Their neighbor was a woman whose husband had died. And she had two daughters.

Every day as Arcia walked down the street past the woman's house, the woman came out and gave her something good to eat. She gave her sweet little cookies called biscochitos, or sopaipillas with honey, and sometimes milk to drink. One day Arcia said to her father, "Papa, why don't you marry that woman? She's so good to me! She gives me sopaipillas almost every day."

But her father didn't want to. He said: "No, Mi 'jita … Si hoy nos da sopaipillas con miel, manana nos dara sopaipillas con hiel!"-"No, Daughter … If today she gives us sopaipillas with honey, tomorrow she'll give us sopaipillas with gall!"

But Arcia protested, "No, Papa! She's a nice woman. You should marry her." And she talked her father into it!

For a while everything was fine. But before long the girls started quarreling among themselves, and the woman no longer liked Arcia and began to be very unkind to her. She bought all sorts of fine things for her own daughters-pretty dresses and jewels for them to wear. But when Arcia's shoes wore out, she wouldn't even buy new ones. So Arcia had to go around barefoot.

Finally the bedroom was so full of the beautiful things that belonged to the stepsisters that there wasn't room for Arcia to sleep there. She had to move down to the kitchen and sleep next to the stove. This went on for some time.

Then one day the man went to his ranch in the mountains, and when he returned he brought with him three young sheep. He gave one sheep to each girl. "Tend your sheep carefully," he told each girl. "When it is full-grown, you can sell it and keep the money. Or if you prefer, I'll butcher it and the family can eat the meat-whichever you wish."

So the girls began raising their sheep. Arcia took the best care of hers. Before long, it was the fattest of the three. One day she told her father, "Papa, I want you to kill my sheep and butcher it. I'm going to roast it and invite the whole village for a big supper."

So her father took the sheep and killed it. And back in those days, people were very poor. They couldn't afford to waste any part of an animal they had killed. They would even use the intestines-—the tripitas they called them. So when the man had cleaned out the sheep, he told Arcia to take the tripitas down to the river to wash them.

Well, for a child nowadays, that would be a very unpleasant task. But in those times they thought nothing of it. Arcia picked up the insides of her sheep and went down to the river to wash them off. Suddenly a big hawk swooped down out of the sky and snatched the tripitas from her hand.

Arcia called out to the hawk, "Senor Gavilan, bring those things back to me, please." The hawk called down to her: "Look … where … I … flyyyy …"

So she did. She looked up to see where the bird had gone. And when she looked up, down from the sky came a little gold star, and it fastened itself right on her forehead.

She went running home, and when her stepsisters saw her, they were jealous. "Oh!" they whispered. "Why shouldn't we have a gold star on our foreheads too?" So they went looking for their stepfather to have him butcher their sheep.

The first one found him and ordered him to kill her sheep. She went down to the river with the insides and began to wash them off. For a second time the hawk swooped down and snatched them away. "Gavilan malvido!" she screamed. "You rotten bird, bring those things back to me!"

The hawk called down to her: "Look…where…I… flyyyy…" But the girl replied: "Don't tell me where to look. I'll look wherever I please. Bring back my things this minute!"

But finally she did have to look up, to see where the hawk had gone. When she did, down from the sky came a long, floppy donkey ear, and it fastened itself to her forehead!

She ran home crying, and her mother gasped, "Bring me the scissors!" She took the scissors and snipped off the donkey ear. But a longer and floppier one grew in its place.

From that day on, everyone in the village called out "Oreja de Burro!" whenever the girl walked by. And that became her name-Donkey Ear!

But her sister hadn't heard what happened, and was already on her way to the river with the tripitas from her sheep. She knelt to wash them, and the hawk snatched them away.

"You good-for-nothing bird! Bring those back!" "Look, … where … I … flyyyy …" "I don't have to obey you. Bring back my things this instant!"

But she too had to look up to see where the hawk had gone. When she did, down from the sky came a long, green cow horn, fastening itself on her forehead. Her mother cried, "Bring me the saw!' She tried to saw the horn off, but the more she cut, the longer and greener it grew. From that day on, everyone called that girl Cuerno Verde-—Green Horn!

Now it just so happened that right about this time the Prince of that land decided that he would like to get married. But he couldn't think of a single girl in his village who he might fall in love with. Then he got an idea. He decided to give a big party and invite the girls from all the villages throughout the mountains, so he could find one to be his bride.

The day of the party arrived, and Arcia helped her stepsisters get dressed in their fine gowns. She fixed their hair and tried to cover those strange things on their foreheads. Then she waved goodbye as they went off to the party. Arcia didn't even have pair of shoes, let alone a party dress, so she had to stay home.

But all by herself at home that night, she felt lonely. She thought, "It won't do any harm if I just go to the palace and peek in the window and see what a grand party is like." So she went and crept up to the palace window. When she peeked in, the gold star on her forehead started to shine more brightly than the sun! It caught everyone's attention.

The Prince said, "Bring that girl with the gold star in here!" His servants ran to get Arcia. But when she saw them coming she was frightened, and ran home as fast as she could.

The next day, the Prince and his servants started going form house to house, looking for the girl with the gold star. They arrived at Arcia's house, but her stepmother made her hide under the trough in the kitchen, and wouldn't even let her come out. Instead, the woman introduced her own daughters. "Your Majesty, perhaps these are the girls you are looking for. Aren't they lovely young women?"

The Prince looked and saw the donkey ear and the cow horn on the girls' foreheads. "No! I don't think these are the girls I had in mind," he said, backing toward the door. But just as he reached it, the cat came and rubbed against his ankle. "Naaauuu, naaauuu. Arcia debajo de la artesa esta."

"What?" demanded the Prince. "Did the cat say someone is under the trough?" "No," laughed the woman. "The cat's just hungry." She picked it up and threw it outside.

But the cat came back and rubbed against his other ankle. "Naaauuu. Arcia debajo de la artesa esta." The Prince insisted, "The cat says someone is under the trough. Who is it?"

He sent his servants to find out. When Arcia saw them approach, she stood up. And when she did, her ugly, dirty old clothes turned into a beautiful gown. The prince fell in love with her immediately, and asked her to marry him. Arcia said she would.

A few days later the wedding celebration began. It lasted nine days and nine nights-and the last day was better than the first. And everyone was invited-even the mean old stepmother and her two daughters, Cuerno Verde and Oreja de Burro.

To order "The Day It Snowed Tortillas" or other books by Joe Hayes, visit Cinco Puntos Press.

Copyright © Joe Hayes
Order Joe Hayes Books at Cinco Puntos Press

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 the country.

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 Puntos Press.


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