Myths and Legends

Tales of Terror from the State of Hidalgo

Named after Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the driving force behind Mexico’s war of independence from Spain, the state of Hidalgo is located in east-central Mexico. It borders San Luis Potosí and Veracruz to the north, Tlaxcala and México to the south, Puebla to the east and Querétaro to the west. Hidalgo is home to over 3 million people and many legends. Here are 5.

  1. The Ancient Orb Witch

There are some variations of this story throughout Mexico.  In the rural areas of Hidalgo, many people believe that there are witches who take the form of luminous balls at night, and hunt children to suck their blood. Nobody knows how old this legend actually is.  This belief comes from pre-Hispanic times and may date back thousands of years. A modern retelling of the story is set in the small town of Singuilucan, which in indigenous times was called Tzinquilocan.  The area has been inhabited for millennia and once supplied obsidian knives for the ancient city of Teotihuacan.  In the old legend, inside a small adobe house in Tzinquilocan there lived a farmer with his wife.  The wife had been rumored to be a witch.  The farmer tried to ignore this gossip, but when his compadres told him that the woman cooked her food with the blood of newborns, he began to worry. One night he came home pretending to be very tired, so he told his wife that he was going to sleep. “I’ll come to bed as soon as I finish preparing your food for tomorrow,” she told him. Curiously, she always cooked fritangas for him, which are tripe dipped in tomato sauce, and which are normally cooked with blood. Pretending to be asleep, the man spied on her through an opening through the sheet, watching in horror as she plucked a long strand of her black hair and tied it around one of her legs. It came off cleanly from her body and fell to the ground.  Then the woman transformed herself into a turkey that flew out of a window. In flight, the turkey turned into a ball of dim light that floated over the small town.  With the woman gone at a safe distance, the farmer quickly took his wife’s leg and hid it. When the witch returned, she was unable to find her leg, so she could not return to her human form.  The farmer trapped her as a turkey and put her in a cage.  In the morning she was burned at the stake by the horrified residents of the town.

2. The Mysterious Young Boy of the Río Charcón

Between the states of Hidalgo and Querétaro, a river known as “El Charcón” runs, close to a road that is not advisable to drive at night. The people who have done it say that the ghost of a child who died there many years ago appears. The story goes something like this: A merchant from Tecozautla was trying to cross the stream, sitting in a cart pulled by his old mule. It had already gotten dark and with the moon a mere sliver in the sky, the darkness was total. Distressed by not seeing anything, the man rushed the animal, and it jumped in fear, letting go of the cart and causing it to pass over an obstacle on the path. The merchant fell and hit his head, knocking him unconscious. When he woke up, he realized that there was a body lying a short distance from him. He then recognized it as a dead child, about 7 or 8 years old.  The boy had been run over by the cart and a trickle of blood was flowing from his skull. Frightened, the merchant took the young boy in his arms and decided to bury him on the side of the road, before continuing on his way back to town. Since that time, it is claimed, that boy appears before motorists, staring into space and covered in blood. It is not good to pick him up, nor to look in the rearview mirror once you pass by him. If you do, you could die of terror to discover him sitting in the back seat of your car.

  1. The Lady of the Big House

In 1766, there lived a man known as the Count of Regla. His name was Pedro Romero de Terreros and his family had noble lineage stretching back generations in Spain and France. The count owned a great fortune and numerous pieces of real estate throughout central Mexico, including a huge and beautiful hacienda in Real del Monte, with its own orchard and a vast, splendid garden. Despite the beauty of the hacienda, the people who worked there were very scared, because all the time they heard strange noises, like chains dragging. One night, two laborers were returning from work when they heard bizarre sounds coming from the hacienda’s main house. When approaching to look for the origin, they got a great scare, because they found two skeletons. One of them belonged to Doña Marina Catarina, an old lady of the place, and the other to her son, who had been chained with an anvil that prevented him from escaping. After they were discovered, both were buried, and the place blessed by a priest. The wealthy count was never to be seen again and since then, the supernatural noises ceased.

  1. The Murders at “La Pasadita”

This legend dates back to the 1920s and takes place within the El Arbolito neighborhood of Hidalgo’s capital city of Pachuca. This neighborhood has numerous alleys, one of which was nicknamed “La Pasadita”. At the end of this small passageway, an elderly couple lived in a very modest little room, in front of which they had set up a small neighborhood store. From there they sold brandy and other spirits to the miners, who came daily to shop there after work. Although they sold a lot, the elderly couple was known for living with great austerity. They always wore the same patched clothes and ate very little. They never went out or spent any money on entertainment. Even when they went to mass, they took turns, since someone always had to stay to take care of the store. Despite their appearance, the neighbors said that they were very rich and that they had probably hidden their fortune under the floor or behind the walls of their room. A couple of thieves heard these rumors and decided that one night they would rob this elderly couple. It was an abominable crime. The old people tried to defend themselves and the thieves ended up murdering them, putting the old man’s body in a trunk in a corner. Since the old woman couldn’t fit in the trunk, they left her lying on the ground, in the middle of a pool of blood. After murdering the couple, the thieves started ransacking the little home. They were happy to find a huge pot, buried in the floor, and full of gold coins. The thieves filled their pockets, but the pot still seemed to overflow with gold. They decided to carry the pot out of the house and get out of there before dawn, but when they left through the back door, the container fell and spilled all over the alley. Nervous, they took what they could and fled. On the way, the gold coins fell from their hands and pockets, leaving a trail that attracted people’s attention and led the police to their whereabouts. Only when they were found, empty-handed and with blood stains on their clothes, did they confess their crime. The bodies of the elderly couple received a Christian burial and the thieves were executed. Their bodies were impaled at the entrance to La Pasadita, to serve as a warning to punish other possible murderers and criminals.

  1. The Mysterious Woman in Black

On the road that goes from Pachuca to Real del Monte, a chilling apparition has been sighted that, according to the legend that stretches back many years, has already scared dozens of drivers at night. It all began in the 1950s, when the presence of a strange woman dressed in black began to be reported, whose face was hidden behind a thick veil. One of those nights, a taxi driver named Juan Torres left the city of Pachuca and was driving back down that road when he noticed a woman signaling for him to stop. He pulled over and allowed her to get into his taxi. “Where are you going, ma’am?” he asked the mysterious female stranger. “Take me to the English Cemetery in Real del Monte,” she replied from the back seat, “there’s someone waiting for me there.” Surprised, because it was already too late in the day to go to the cemetery, Juan returned to the road. During the short trip the taxi driver tried to make conversation with the black-dressed woman, because he couldn’t stop having the feeling that something was very wrong. However, she did not answer him. Upon reaching his destination, Juan breathed a sigh of relief because he really wanted that woman out of his cab. “We’re here, ma’am,” he said. “It’s going to be one hundred pesos for the trip… ma’am?” Juan looked back and was shocked to see that the woman was not there. It was impossible; he had never heard her open the car door. Nervous, he looked towards the graveyard, which had its gates closed for the evening. In the distance, he could see the lady in black walking in the middle of the cemetery.  In an instant, she vanished. Terrified, the taxi driver fled at full speed from there. He never picked up anyone on the highway at night ever again.


Thanks to folklorista Erika Garcia for her help with this episode.

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