Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Squeaky Cart

In honor of Halloween...here is the story of La Carreta Chillona
This photo was taken in the Cultural House in Dulce de Nombre de Maria, Chalatenango
Throughout El Salvador, the midnight sound of squeaky wheels rolling down pavement or cobbles or pathways of a town brings fear to those who hear it.  The cart passes by at the time when everyone should be asleep, so that none would be exposed to the company of cadavers traveling by cart on their funeral route.  Some believe the cart is filled with the bodies of those who have dared to look upon it as the cart passed by.

Historians believe that versions of this tale were spread throughout the Americas by Spanish rulers, who wanted to discourage the local people from venturing out after dark to conspire against them.  The story was used as a threat to anyone who was caught in the street.

In the hills near San Vicente, the people tell a particularly gruesome version of this tale...

One evening, the haunted cart appeared to a very gossipy woman.  The cart appeared to be moving, but no oxen were pulling it.  Human skulls with grotesque, grimacing faces were stuck onto the tops of sharpened poles on the sides of the cart.  The cargo consisted of a grand pile of naked, decapitated bodies, with arms and legs writhing like the tentacles of a thousand octopi.  In place of their heads, the body-carriers had bunches of grass. They danced around lashing the bodies with a big black whip, making a horrid sound like bullets, and all the while calling out the names of the people of the town who were known liars, cheats and hypocrites. The gossipy woman could not contain her curiosity when she heard the sound of the haunted cart.  She went outside to look at it, and her horror was so great, that she woke up dead*, lying in a pool of her own curious, gossipy, revolting blood.  And the sound of the squeaky wheels of the haunted cart has never been heard crossing the cobblestones of the town since that night.

*"woke up dead" is the way that the people tell the story...an interesting phrase, I think.



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