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Yucatan Legends

THE HuayChivo

Legend has it that “Huay Chivo” is a magician in the shape of a large black goat, whose eyes glow red. He eats the chicken and the people who have faced him succumb to high fever and illness.

A practitioner of black magic, he likes to perform his diabolical acts in lonely and dark places.

According to what is believed, he is half human, half goat. He has the head of a goat and a human body but can assume other forms, such as a dog (Huay Perro).

So traveler, be careful not to walk after midnight where the Huay goat roams, because this evil being who hates the light and loves the darkness, can pour out all his evil on you.


There are many legends about the cenotes. Here are some of them:

A couple without children found a girl in a cenote whom they called Nicte-Ha (Flower of water). The girl grew in beauty and age and that is why a Mayan warrior loved her. One day he ran after her to reach her and she fell into a cenote and the water kept what was hers. Her body appeared later, floating in the cenote. White flowers appeared in the girl’s mouth and two white doves were spreading the flowers all over the ceonte. When there is a full moon, Nicte-ha sings in the cenote while her cursed stalker wanders through the forest.

The great priest of Chichen Itza, Ah Kinxoc, had a beautiful daughter named Oyamal. Two prince brothers, Ac and Cay, fell in love with her. Cay was the chosen one but in his anger, Ac locked Oyamal in the cloister of Chichén Itzá, and Cay in the waters of Kauá. Cay crossed the underground labyrinth to reach the cloister, but Ac surprised the couple, who managed to hide in the grotto where they still remain and on the nights of Xac (January), a voice is heard saying Yacumá! (Love you).

A Mayan priest committed the sacrilege of falling in love with a princess and both hid in the caves of Xtacumbil-Xunan. But the spirits, enraged, transformed the princess into a stone statue (some cave figures) and the priest into one of the seven cave lakes called Putsu. When the human voice is heard there, this lake recedes and returns when all is silence. The water is the banshee of a priest who frightens and flees when he hears voices.

Many fantastic beings, such as the aluxes, live or are related to the cenotes. Landa (Spanish priest) guessed that the cenotes were formed when lightning struck the surface. The Mayans had similar beliefs, as it follows the creation of the Xlacah cenote of Dzibilchaltun. An old and tired man came to his son’s house to ask for a piece of bread. The ungrateful son, despite enjoying many comforts, denied his father food. God took the appearance of the old man and went to ask his son for help, who again refused. Then, God, to punish the ungrateful, made lightning strike his house. Sunken into the ground, the Xlacah cenote was formed.

The name of Yucatan

The name of the peninsula was given during the Spanish conquest. Although there are several statements that agree that this origin would have been due to a verbal misunderstanding (between) the Mayans and the conquerors, they are all quite uncertain.

One of them tells that a Spaniard approached a Mayan and asked him for the name of the land, to which the Mayan replied: Yuk ak katan (I don’t understand your language). In another, the answer was Yucatán (I’m not from here). Others say that the Mayans answered uh yu uthaan (hear how they speak) and the Spanish heard Yucatán. In another answer, they said Ci u than (I don’t understand).

Probably the first narrator of the story of “I don’t understand” was Toribio de Benavente, Motolinia, who writes at the end of chapter 8 of “Treatise III”: “Because speaking with those Indians on that coast, what did the Spaniards ask the Indians : “Tectetan, tectetan”, which means: “I don’t understand you, I don’t understand you”: the Christians corrupted the word, and not understanding what the Indians were saying, they said: “This land is called Yucatan”; and the same thing It was on a cape, which was also called Cape Cotoch; and Cotoch in that language means house”.

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