Master Storyteller Joe Hayes
from his book "The
Day It Snowed Tortillas"
This is a story about two men who
were compadres, which means they were godfathers to each
One man was rich.
He had a fine ranch with a big herd of cattle. And he had one
mule that was his pride and joy. It was a prize-winning mule.
His compadre was very poor.
And he was lazy. He never worked, never paid his bills. And he
was always talking and talking. The people gave him a nickname.
They called El Grillo, The Cricket, because he would never
be quiet, just as a cricket won't quiet down when you're trying
to get to sleep at night.
One of the foolish things The Cricket
was always saying was that he was un adivino, a seer, and
that he could solve mysteries and find things that were lost.
He used that idea to play a trick on his rich compadre.
Whenever The Cricket would get far
behind in his bills and owe a lot of money, he would go to his
rich compadre's ranch. He would catch that prize-winning
mule and lead it into the mountains and hide it.
The rich man would look all over his
ranch for the mule. Then he would go call on The Cricket. "Can
you help me?" he would ask. "My mule is lost. I can't find him
anywhere on the ranch. Could you use your powers as a seer and
find out where that mule is?"
The Cricket would say, "oh, that doesn't
sound too hard. I think I can solve this mystery. But you know,
I need some help too. Could you just pay off a few of my bills?"
The rich man would pay The Cricket's
bills, and the poor man would go back to the mountains and get
the mule and lead it home. Over and over he played the trick on
his compadre. But his mischief almost caught up with him.
One day the rich man was in Santa
Fe visiting the governor, and the governor was upset. "Oh," he
sighed. "I have lost a ring that I've had since I was a child.
I can't find it anywhere in the palace."
The rich man reassured him. "I can
help you. My compadre is a seer. He can solve mysteries
and find things that are lost. I'll tell him to come find your
So the next day The Cricket had to
go to the palace to find the ring. Now the pressure was really
on him. He would have to find something that was really lost.
So he tried to get out of it.
"I understand that you are un adivino,"
the governor said, "that you can find lost articles."
"Oh, no, Your Excellency," The Cricket
said. "Sometimes I've been lucky and found something that was
lost, but I wouldn't say I'm a seer, or have any special powers."
When he heard that, the governor became
suspicious. "This man sounds like a fraud to me," he thought.
"He sounds like a cheat."
The governor told The Cricket, "I'm
going to lock you in a room for three days. If at the end of that
time you can tell me where my ring is, you'll get a rich reward.
But if you fail, then I'll know you've been lying to the people.
And you'll get the proper punishment."
So The Cricket was locked in a room,
and of course he had no idea where the ring was or how he might
Now, the truth of the matter was that
three of the kitchen servants had stolen the ring. And it just
so happened that on the evening of the first day one of those
servants was sent up to The Cricket's room to serve the prisoner
The servant entered and placed the
food on the table, and when The Cricket saw his evening meal before
him, a thought hit-that he had only three days in which to solve
the mystery, and here it was suppertime, the end of the first
So as the servant was leaving the
room, The Cricket shook his head and muttered to himself, "Ai!
Of the three, there goes the first!"
He meant the first of the three days,
but when the servant heard him, he thought The Cricket had recognized
him as one of the thieves. He ran back to the kitchen. "That man
in the room!" he sputtered to his friends. "He really is a seer.
As I was leaving the room I heard him say, 'Of the three, there
goes the first.' He knew that I was one of the thieves!"
"Don't jump to conclusions," the other
two advised. "Tomorrow a different one of us will take his food.
We'll see what he says then."
The next day a second servant delivered
the evening meal. Again, when The Cricket saw his supper before
him, the truth struck-only three days to save himself, and the
second one now was gone. As the servant was going through the
door, The Cricket sighed, "Ai! Of the three, there goes
The servant ran back to his friends.
"There can be no doubt about it. He knows! As I was leaving he
said, 'Of the three, there goes the second.' He knew that I was
one of the thieves, too."
So on the third day, when the third
servant took The Cricket his food, he just fell on his knees and
pleaded, "Please don't tell the governor. We know that you know
about us, but if you tell the governor we'll have our heads cut
The Cricket realized
what the man was talking about. "I won't turn you in," he assured
the servant, "if you do exactly as I say. Take the ring out to
the barnyard and throw it on the ground in front of the fattest
goose in the flock. Make sure the goose swallows the ring."
The servant did as he was told. Later,
when the governor demanded to know where his ring was, The Cricket
told him, "Your Excellency, this is very strange, but I had a
vision while I was in that room. I saw your barnyard and the pen
where the geese are kept. And the ring was in the belly of the
The governor laughed. "How would it
get there?" But he ordered that the goose be brought in and his
stomach opened. And there was the ring! That made a believer of
the governor. He rewarded The Cricket with gold and sent him home
with the goose for his wife to cook.
After getting out of that one, The
Cricket promised himself, "Never again will I call myself a seer."
But keeping that vow was not so easy.
A few weeks later the governor of
Chihuahua was in New Mexico visiting at the palace, and the governor
of New Mexico just had to brag about The Cricket. "Living here
in this province of New Mexico is a man who is un adivino,"
he boasted to the governor of Chihuahua. "He can solve mysteries
and find things that are lost. He could tell you what was hidden
in some secret place."
The governor of Chihuahua laughed.
"Adivino, indeed! There's no such thing!" The two men started
to argue, and before long they made a bet. They bet a thousand
The arrangement was that the governor
of Chihuahua would hide something in a box, and they would run
the box to the top of the flagpole. The Cricket would have to
stand on the ground at the bottom of the flagpole and tell what
was inside the box.
The day of the contest arrived, and
the governor of Chihuahua got a clever idea. He took a big box
and put a smaller box inside it, then a smaller box inside that,
and so on, until the last box he put in was very tiny. "He'll
think it's something big in this large box," the governor laughed.
"But I'll get something very small to go in this tiny box."
He went to the garden to look for
something small, and just then a little cricket went hopping across
the path. The governor caught it and put it in the smallest box.
He sealed all the boxes and raised them to the top of the flagpole.
The guards went to get The Cricket.
There the poor Cricket stood at the
bottom of the flagpole, without a clue what was in the box. But
the governor of New Mexico and the governor of Chihuahua stood
before him, and there were soldiers all around. He couldn't run.
He just stood there. An hour passed, and then another.
Finally the governor of Chihuahua
started to laugh. "This man is a fraud, just as I told you." He
turned to the governor of New Mexico. "Pay the bet and let's be
done with it."
Now the governor of New Mexico grew
impatient. "Speak up," he told The Cricket. "Tell us what's in
the box. Speak!" Finally he roared, "I'll give you one more minute.
Speak or I'll have you shot!"
The Cricket had to say something.
He stuttered and fumbled. "In the box . in the box .in the box
. in the box ."
"What?" gasped the governor of Chihuahua.
"How does he know there's a box inside a box inside a box?"
And just then, thinking of himself,
The Cricket hung his head and cried, "Oh, no! They've got you
this time, you poor little Cricket!"
The governor of Chihuahua's jaw fell.
"If I hadn't heard that with my own ears, I never would have believed
it!" He drew out his wallet and paid a thousand dollars to the
governor of New Mexico.
The governor of New Mexico gave 500
of those dollars to The Cricket. He shook his hand and slapped
him on the back. "Well done again!" And he sent him home.
That was too close a call for The
Cricket. "Never, ever again in my whole life will I tell anyone
that I have any special powers whatever!"
But the boys on the street had always
liked to make fun of The Cricket. That day they had filled a big
gunny sack with garbage, and as The Cricket started down the street
they ran out to meet him. They waved the gunny sack in front of
him. "Adivino," they taunted, "use your secret powers.
Tell us what's in this gunny sack."
"Don't call me adivino," The
Cricket snapped. "I don't believe in that anymore. It's nothing
but a bunch of garbage. Leave me alone!" The boys stared at him
in amazement. "How did he know it was garbage? He really is a
seer! We thought he was just an old fool."
So from that day on, no matter how
hard The Cricket tried to tell people, "No! I'm not a seer. I
have nos special powers at all," they wouldn't believe him. Every
time a housewife lost a spoon, she would come to him to find it.
The governor kept calling on him to solve mysteries.
Finally, to have any peace at all,
The Cricket had to take his family and move far away from New
Mexico, to a place where they hadn't heard of men who are called
adivinos, or seers. And if he hasn't died by now, he must
be living there still.
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