La Mocuana

La Mocuana

When the Spanish conquerors at the command of Gabriel de Rojas arrived at the Chontalena settlement of Cihuacoatl, the cacique—chief of the tribe—wanted to be a good host. So he gave Rojas a small piece of gold from his immense collection of riches from the mountains of Matagalpa and the East. The cacique also gave Rojas several golden pieces in the form of the fruit of the tamarind tree. The conqueror was intrigued by the gold and left the community politely while he schemed of ways to return and steal the riches for himself. The cacique was no fool, however, and knew the Spanish would soon return for the gold and other riches. Hence, he hid them in a secret location known only to him and his daughter.

Later, the Spanish returned to Cihuacoatl and fought many battles with the Chontal people there, suffering greatly to the well-armed warriors of the area yet never learning where the treasure had been hidden. Meanwhile, the cacique’s daughter fell deeply in love with one of the Spanish soldiers. The two ran off together and the girl showed the soldier where the treasure was hidden. He betrayed her immediately and before carrying away the riches of her father, he locked her up in a cave so she would not escape to tell the tale of his ruse. However, the girl managed to escape but she lost her mind due to the ravages of the betrayal, the immensity of her naivety, and the punishment she knew awaited her if she ever found her way back to the village.

Many modern Nicaraguans living in the countryside claim to have seen the Mocuana. She appears at night to men traveling alone. She never lets them see her face because she would die of shame for what had happened to her. Instead, she lets them get a glimpse of her smooth, lovely back, shoulders and her long and beautiful hair. Some say the Mocuana is vengeful and tries to get young men to accompany her to where the treasure is so she can kill them and avenge her own betrayal. Contrary, others claim she is just a poor lonely girl who has gone crazy for love, a love she knows she can never recapture.

In the east side of the highway at La Trinidad, Esteli, there is a tall hill called La Mocuana, in her honor. Some people believe that is the hill where the cacique had once hidden the treasure.

La Mocuana

Another version provided by Wilberth Medrano 2008

The town of La Trinidad is reportedly the source for one of the most well known mythological figures, La Mocuana. Josefa María Montenegro in her book Nicaraguan Legends, has one version of this tale:

“Around 1530, the Spaniards carried out a well-armed expedition into Nicaraguan territory in order to extend their domain and increase their wealth. During that incursion, the Spaniards managed to subdue the Indians of Sébaco that lived by the Moyuá Lagoon. The chief of the tribe, once vanquished, presented the conquistadores with deerskin pouches filled with nuggets of gold.

“The news in Spain of the conquistadores having returned with great wealth drew the attention of a young man who aspired to be a man of the cloth and whose father had died during that incursion. His mind made up, the young man joined in a new expedition and after a long and arduous journey arrived on Nicaraguan soil, where he was well received by the residents who thought he was a priest.

“On arriving in Sébaco, the young man met the beautiful daughter of the cacique and romanced her with intentions of seizing the wealth of her father. The young Indian fell lost in love with the Spaniard and as proof of her love, let him know where her father kept his riches. There are those who say that the Spaniard also fell really in love with the young Indian maiden.

“The cacique, on hearing about the affair between his daughter and the foreigner, made his opposition to the relation clear and they were obliged to run away. But the cacique tracked them down and faced off against the Spaniard, killing him. Then he locked up his daughter, though she was pregnant, in a cave in the hills. Other versions have it that the Spaniard locked up his Indian lover after seizing the treasures.

“The legend tells of how La Mocuana went crazy with time being locked up and later managed to get out through a tunnel, but in doing so she dropped her baby son into an abyss. Ever since, she appears on the road inviting those passing by to her cave. Those that have met her say they never saw her face, only her svelte figure and long beautiful black hair.

“In some places it is told that when La Mocuana finds a newborn, she slashes its throat and leaves a handful of gold for the parents of the infant. Other versions assure us that she takes the infant away, always leaving pieces of gold.”

Legend has it that La Mocuana goes out after 12 midnight dressed in silk and residents of La Trinidad say they have seen her on the Pan-American Highway. Others have tried to follow her into the cave where she hides but found that impossible because of the thousands of bats living there.

There are many other tales left to tell in which the history of our ancestors is interplay between reality and fiction, the visible and the hidden, the mysterious and the day-to-day. The comings and goings of other cultures that clash with the rooted beliefs of our forebears from the Conquest to modern times has made us into a people that creates its own myths and legends as a defense from those other cultures and as an expression of our own.

Another Version

The Witch of La Mocuana

The Nicaraguan folkloric legend of La Mocuana is believed to be based on genuine history and it is thought that La Mocuana was a living Indian princess. Her father was hospitable to the Spanish conquerers at first but then ordered them to leave. Soon the Spanish forces returned to take over the village and take their gold. The chief of the village had hidden the treasure and his daughter, La Mocuana, was the only other individual who knew its whereabouts.

During a battle between the two groups the tribe gained victory. Some time later the son of one of the Spanish soldiers came to live near the village and soon fell in love with La Macuana. She too fell in love with him and they planned to run away together. She gave him her father’s treasure so that they could have something for their lives together. The Spaniard preferred to keep the gold for himself and sealed La Macuana in a cave, running away with the treasure.

La Mocuana escaped through the back of the cave. The heartbroken princess began to wander the woods and was driven mad by the thoughts of betrayal and feelings of guilt. Country people say that her sad figure can be seen on dark nights. She is also said to lure drunkards and philanderers to her cave where they disappear.