Speaking of Halloween… Posted October 28, 2014
Carreta Nagua (Nagua Cart)
The cart is pulled by two very thin oxen. Their bones could well be ripping the skin apart as the beasts keep walking, the flat wheels of the cart are loudly heard as they pass Xalteva street: ¡Crack, crack, crack! The skull, dressed in a white hooded dress, directs the cart and the tormented souls of the purgatory are held by white candles that serve as rails. A nosy man, watching the fascinating yet horrible sight from the colonial house on the corner, shouts: It’s the Carreta Nagua announcing death!
This same scene will take place the night of October 30th in Granada. Not because it’s Haloween’s Eve, but because the Nicaraguan legend of the Carreta Nagua comes to life every night, when grandma tells it to her grandchild. It’s one scary tale that has passed generation after generation.
Even though there is no consensus about the origin of this legend (some say that it originated in Granada, others say that it came from Leon or Niquinomo), it is safe to say that the agony of the Carreta Nagua has been heard in Nicaragua since colonial times.
Mariano Marin, a granadino filmmaker, explains that in postcolonial times, the slaves trade for mining and the indigo plant storages were based in Xalteva, Granada. The slaves were transported in carts and many died from abuse or starvation. Sometimes indigenous people would run away to the mountains and the spaniards would go and hunt them with dogs; they brought them back to Xalteva, tied on the rails of the cart. This, supposedly, recreated the idea of death at the sight of a cart.
Another version, less atrocious, tells us that Carreta Nagua is a tale introduced by the spaniards to scare indigenous people. The conquistadores would plunder Nicaraguan gold every evening, and the weight of the precious metal would make a lot of noise making the indigenous people afraid to look outside.
The tale goes that if a nosy man would go outside to see the Carreta Nagua, Death would hand them a candle announcing their passing. Would you dare see the Carreta Nagua this Thursday in Granada? If you are brave enough, you can enjoy the performance that filmmaker Mariano Marin is presenting, in order to rescue “Granadino traditional myths and legends as part of our identity”.