When I added the search box to the web site, I had no idea what a valuable tool it would become. It’s one way to find out what our visitors want, because it tracks all the keywords searched for. Our most popular and most often misspelled, is La Llorana.
I have explained the tale of La Llorana on our web site, but here is a brief synopsis:
A native princess falls in love with a Spanish nobleman, but they cannot marry because his family does not approve. They shack-up for a couple of years, have 2 or 3 kids, then he doesn’t come home one night. She finds him at his parents’ house, in the middle of his wedding reception.
Furious, she drowns their children in the nearby river (this is any river in the southwestern part of North America).
When she comes to her senses, she kills herself in grief, and is doomed to wander the riverbed in search of her murdered children.
La Llorana has been seen and heard all over the United States and Mexico, from NYC to La Ciudad de Mexico (Mexico City) and in every corner of Texas. There is even a park in Las Cruces, NM called “La Llorana Park” along the Rio Grande. The interesting part about most legends is that they are often based on a kernel of truth and that is the case with La Llorana.
In the early 1500s, Cortes conquered the Aztec nation with the aid of a cacique – a kind of mixed background princess – named La Malinche. When her father died, her mother remarried and had a son. In order for La Malinche’s half-brother to inherit her father’s holdings, her mother sold her into slavery. She was sold often and eventually landed in the hands of Cortes’ messenger. With the messenger dispatched to the king, La Malinche belonged to Cortes. Her education became evident very quickly and she learned languages in less than a month. These factors, combined with her persuasive skills, made her invaluable to Cortes in convincing other tribes to turn against the Aztecs. La Malinche became Cortes’ mistress and she was baptized “Marina” and given the title “Dona” (equivalent to “Lady” in English). Dona Marina and Cortes had a son before she married another man lived the rest of her life shrouded in mystery.
La Malinche is often called the “Mexican Eve.” Because she was a slave who ascended to power and respect, she has been given god-like qualities in legend. Because she was half-native and she assisted in the subjugation of her own people, she is also seen as a traitor. It is possible that the word “Malinchista” – “traitor” is derived from her name. She is known by many names throughout Mexican culture, and many people believe that the story of La Llorana is based on her.
I have heard that La Llorana roams the San Jacinto River and Buffalo Bayou in Houston, the San Antonio River in San Antonio, White Rock Lake in Dallas and the Rio Grande in all the border cities and towns. Some say she is dangerous, some say she is harmless. Some say she is a white apparition, some say you never see anything – just hear her incessant weeping. An interesting alteration at White Rock Lake is that she is supposed to look like a donkey and tap on the windows of “parked” cars (with “parking” teenagers). Sometimes the White Rock Lake version hitchhikes, too and vanishes at a certain point. I am told that she does something very similar in Chicago.