Here are the stories we’ve listened to as told by the students of the Alliance Francaise in La Paz, Bolivia. They told their tales and legends in French, so what you can read here is my translation of what they said, trying to stick to the way they actually wrote the stories. Thus, don’t get offended by the strange syntax or way of speaking that you may notice: I found that important to keep it that way, so that you can see how these teenagers remembered the stories and decided to tell them.
At Lydia’s, by Rafaela, Alejandra, Daniela and Valeska
Lydia was the daughter of two farmers, and was very spoilt. However, she never saw how much her parents were doing for her. She was going to the most expensive boarding school of Bolivia, she enjoyed her easy life, and had absolutely no sense of reality. When she finished her studies, she was really concerned about her reputation. She came back to her parents’, and learned to live in the real world. She went working in the country with them, and finally valued everything they did for her.
La Kantuta, by Annelise, Lilian, and Anvi
The Inca who ruled at the time was the most cruel and violent of all the ones who ruled the empire. Every winter, the Inca visited the sanctuary of Copacawana. One year, he took his daughter there. She was known in the whole empire for her beauty and her virtue. The young woman, who came along on this journey for the first time, saw a handsome young man sitting by the lake. Although he was low born, she immediately fell in love with him. His name was Kento, and he also immediately fell in love with her. As long as the girl was in Copacawana, they lived their love in secret, hiding it from the Inca.
One day, a messenger came giving news that they had to come back at once. The princess, hearing this, went at night to see Kento: they had to find a way to stay together. Unfortunately, she fell into a pit full of spiky bushes which stabbed her to death. With the morning dew, tiny green leaves grew on the bushes, lit up by the first rays of sun. When they discovered her body, she was lying surrounded by an unknown plant with beautiful flowers, that was called Kentu-uta pankara (“Kento’s flower house”). These flowers are green as the fields, yellow as the first sunrays, and red as the princess’s blood. Kento never got over the death of the one he loved, and this flower still exists today: it is called Kantuta. It is the national flower of Bolivia, and its flag bears the same colors.
The Fox and the Condor, by Denise, Julia, Grecia and Paula.
One day, in the forest, a fox met a Condor. He said to him: “You think you’re better, because you can fly?”
The Condor flew down and said: “Well, dear Fox, if you think you’re better than me, let’s make a bet.”
The Fox, intrigued, asked: “What kind of bet?”
The Condor, in a superior tone, answered: “We will go at the top of this mountain, and we will stay there all night, and the one who will win will eat the other one.”
The Fox, a bit scared, said: “All right, let’s go.”
Thus they went to the top of the mountain, and sat down. Later, the Fox asked the Condor: “Condor, are you still alive?” And he said: “Yes, I am still alive.”
A few hours later, the Condor asked the Fox: “Fox, are you still alive?” And he said: “Yes, I am still alive.” But his voice was weaker than before.
All night long, they asked this question to each other, and every time, the Fox’s voice sounded weaker. After a while, the Condor asked: “Fox, are you still alive?” And the Fox did not reply. The Condor asked the question many times, but the Fox did not answer anymore. At dawn, the Condor had won his bet. So he ate the Fox. Since that day, foxes are scared of condors for one day, one of them ate one of theirs.
Jaen Road, by Arnold, Fabiana, Alfonso, and Mariana
The legend says that at the time of the colonization, the ones who were hanged went on the street until they got to Murillo Square, where they walked in circle. At that time, people living near this street heard coach noises and saw ghosts. Later, they built a green cross to scare the deads’ spirits.
The Black Cat and the Devil, by Diana, Mariana, Natalia, Diana, Maria Paula and Ariel
Witches from Bolivia say that it is good to have a black cat at home. So that he wouldn’t get inside, the cat said to the Devil: “You cannot enter in my house.” And the Devil said: “Oh, please!” So the cat said to the Devil that if he wanted to get in, he had count the hairs on his tail, and tell how many there were. And when the Devil started counting, the cat kept moving his tail.
The Devil’s bridge (Diablada)
We are going to tell a little tale about a bridge called the Devil’s bridge. This bridge is near a city called Potosi. Potosi is a city in the south of Bolivia, and it is very rich because of its world famous silver mines in the mountain, the “Cerro Rico de Potosi”.
One day, a man wanted to go back home, but he couldn’t, because the bridge had collapsed. The man stay angry for hours, and he screamed and he cried, and then the Devil finally heard him. So he offered him to rebuild the bridge in exchange for his soul. The Devil started to build the bridge until only one brick was missing: an angel had sat down on the last brick so that the Devil could not take it, and the man was saved and did not have to give up his soul.
Potosi’s Bridge, by Angel, Hugo and Edwards (another take at the Devil’s bridge)
Once upon a time, there was a boy who was a miner. One day like another, he decided to go to the Cerro Rico to work, but found himself in a dangerous and hazardous situation. He got lost and could not find his way, when he met the Devil, “El Tio”. He thought he would die, but h thought about his family and found the way to the mine where he found a big pile of gold. Then he lived happy with his family.
The legend of the potato, or Wiracocha, by Pablo, Maria Cristina, Bruno and Adriana
In the Altiplano, there was a rich city that had been invaded for 15 years. A young man called Choque climbed up a mountain and met a white condor, called Wiracocha. He gave grains to Choque, which his people had to eat. They were potato roots. The invaders ate the poisoned fruit and Choque’s people vanquished them.
(To understand the story better, you can read a more complete version here > Click!)