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,
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
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
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
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
Arcia called out to
the hawk, "Senor Gavilan, bring those things back
to me, please." The hawk called down to her: "Look
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
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.
bird! Bring those back!" "Look,
" "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
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
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."
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
© 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 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