Myths and legends from the State of Tamaulipas: The ‘Leoncillo’
Folk story from the Sierra de San Carlos, in Tamaulipas
One day, at don Evaristo’s ranch, we all went horseback riding in the distant hills. Don Evaristo was looking for some missing cows. In the afternoon, we found the cows, and the cowboys took them straight back to the corrals. After that, we stopped by a lake to water the horses, and there we saw a strange animal that looked something like a puma. That very same night, after supper, don Evaristo told us a very interesting story about this animal particular.
“You know, animals know a lot of things, and maybe more than humans think. Some animals are divine messengers and bring good news; others may announce calamities or evil things to come. Today, we came across one very astute little wild feline known as ‘leoncillo’, or ‘little lion’, although its official name is ‘jaguarundi’. Many people believe it’s a kind of magical animal.”
“A magical animal! That sounds interesting!” Emily said.
“Magical? In what way?” I asked.
“Well, according to local tradition, if a hunter wants to kill a jaguarundi, no matter how many shots he takes, not one will ever hit the target. I have actually heard this from people who have tried it themselves, not just from the legend!
“Anyway, even though some people may not believe it, the ‘leoncillo’ is not a bad animal. He just stays alone in the woods, looking for food, and rarely comes near a corral, or attacks goats or cows. No, the ‘leoncillo’ is not like the puma or the wolf, which often kill just for the sake of killing – not because they need food. The ‘leoncillo’ eats hares, rabbits, wild mice, and iguanas; things like that.
“But let me tell you something else: whenever you see a ‘leoncillo’ by the road or in an open field, I believe there’s a reason, and he’s usually warning us about something. Perhaps it’s going to rain, or the weather is going to get colder, or you are going to receive some news from a distant relative… The ‘leoncillo’ is a bringer of news. He’s a true friend to us humans.” Don Evaristo concluded.
“So, what news was he bringing us today?” I wondered.
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s going to rain tomorrow,” don Evaristo said.
And believe it or not, it did rain the following day! It poured down for hours, after a long season of drought!
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Written by Homero Adame and translated by Pat Grounds. Originally published in the English textbook Activate! 2. By Carol Lethaby, Homero Adame, and Pat Grounds. Ediciones Castillo, S.A. de C.V. Monterrey, Mexico. 2003. Pp. 122-123.
The two images were taken from the Internet. The links are a way to thank the two sites. Jaguarundi in Costa Rica and Jaguarundi in Animalfarmguyana.