A friend of mine is taking a class at the U called Urban Legends. She asked me to recount an urban legend that I'd heard, and of course the most famous here in NM, in various forms is...

La Yarona, La Yorona, or more correctly La Llorona (the crying one)...

I first heard this story from my abuelita on my mom's side. Grandma on my dad's side was "gramma garcia" and on my mom's side, "gramma gramma".

In her broken english, gramma gramma terrified generations with her tale...

There was this woman from Belen who lived near the bosque. She caught her husband cheating on her, and went loco. To punish him, she took all her children to the river and drowned them. Now she wanders along the river and ditches all the way from Belen to Albuquerque, crying and wailing for her children. If you misbehave or play by the river or ditches, she will lure you to the water and drown you.

I remember when we were little, my sister and brothers used to spend the night at gramma gramma's. The summers were hot in that tiny house in the south valley, and there was no air conditioning. To stay cool, we would all sit out in the yard in the evening, the cicadas singing as the sun went down. Sounds of the train whistles when the wind would blow just right, and an occasional undefineable sound... "la llorona", gramma gramma would whisper to us...

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Comment by Adelita on July 18, 2008 at 2:39pm
I love all the different versions of La Llorona. My mom used to tell me that La Llorona lost her kids in the grocery store and that's why she always cried. Guess that was her sneaky way of making sure I stuck close by.

I remember a classmate in 1st grade said that La Llorona visited her at night and had glowing red eyes. Scared the crap out of all of us since we lived so close to so many ditches.

I wonder how many other versions there are?
Comment by Anthony R. Lovato on July 18, 2008 at 2:41pm
I think that the movie industry should take advantage of this urban legend and make a Thriller/Suspense movie. I too remember hearing the story of La Llorona when I was little. You wouldn’t see her, but you could hear her. Watch out she’ll get you! That story kept me and my brother and sister in check.

Did that class explore the origins of the urban legends? It would be interesting to know how the story got started. Thanks, great post.
Comment by Ron Da Bomb on July 18, 2008 at 2:47pm
Hey Anthony, check out Spartacus's link above regarding a movie and some other good variations.

Adelita, I never heard the grocery store version!!! good stuff.
Comment by jim on July 18, 2008 at 3:21pm
I have heard a very similar legend while working outside of Masaya, Nicaragua in an area known as the Pueblos Brujos. One of the old brujas gave me a thrilling experience as she recited the tale with a serious and dramatic tone. Even with my poor understanding of Spanish she raised goosebumps up and down my arms.

I have also seen fire balls while camping near the Rio Puerco by Cabezon Peak. Locals from San Luis have told me that these were witches traveling along the river.

I can see where the grocery store version is definitely a useful adaptation.
Comment by Jen on July 18, 2008 at 4:11pm
I love the story, though it made me terrified to visit my grandparents, as they lived about a half block from an arroyo. It certainly works as a cautionary tale to keep kids out of ditches!
Comment by Adelita on July 18, 2008 at 4:22pm
Gosh I forgot about a "Got Milk" commercial geared toward the Hispanic market that was so funny. A llorona type woman dressed in a wispy and flowy white dress was floating through a house and spotted some cookies or brownies on the kitchen table. She devours them all and then floats over to the refrigerator to get some milk. She opens up the carton only to realize that it is empty. She starts crying and crying. You have to know the story of La Llorona to understand the joke of the commercial.
Comment by My other name is... on July 18, 2008 at 4:44pm
Adelita, that commercial sounds hilarious!
My family is from Silver City and they told us the story of La Llorona as if she's from there. Fascinating how many different places have such a similar story.
Comment by hettie on July 18, 2008 at 4:45pm
at plactias elementary, la llorona inhabited the girl's bathroom, so you better never go in there by yourself. if you have to go by yourself, you better never, never look in the mirror (I can't remember if this was because she was in the mirror or what--anyone?). terrifying stuff to a 6 year old. even worse when you already have to pee.
Comment by mombat on July 18, 2008 at 5:20pm
We had the La Llorona stories growing up in the South Valley. If you walk on the ditch at night she will get you. We lived half a block from the ditch so i only felt a little safe.
We only had the mirror thing for Bloody Mary.
Comment by Dr Dan on July 18, 2008 at 5:55pm
According to my dad, it happened in Lyden NM which is north of Espanola, he also told me a story about a man who gives a woman a ride, lends her his jacket and he finds it on her grave, I know the second one is true because it happened to a friend of my dad's third cousin (my 4th cousin) on my grandma's side

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