Bolivian Legends: Legend of El Mojon con Cara

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Legend of El Mojon con Cara (The wooden post with a face)

When Santa Cruz was a tiny town, houses had mojones which are thick wooden posts in front of the doors, to prevent carretones (horse or oxcarts) from crashing into the houses. They were also used to tie horses or to signal street boundaries. In those times, a pretty girl lived in what is now Republiquetas street, guarded by a strict mother who didn’t like her suitor, a poor but good-hearted young man. Her mother didn’t even let her go out of the house, for fear she would secretly meet her lover, who had no choice but to go every day to sit in front of her house and wait patiently for her to peek by the window into the street so he could catch a glimpse of her.

Amused, the townspeople began to call him by the nickname "el mojon con cara" (the post with a face), as the girl’s mother had dubbed him, exasperated by his persistent waiting. The young man spent his hours carving a human head into one of the street’s mojones, till his beloved finally found an opportunity to escape from the house and ran away with him.

What is not a myth: the Mojón con Cara, a real wooden post carved with a face does exist on Republiquetas street. It is said the original mojón con cara carved by the young man in this legend existed until 1947 when a tractor ripped it out and discarded it. The mayor had another carved to replace it that same year.

In August 2010 (63 years later) some unscrupulous delinquents ripped it out and damaged it. Anguished authorities spent hours searching for it and did find it, several hours later, and natives of the city of Santa Cruz were very hurt and indignant that someone should damage a piece of this region’s romantic history. The city government restored it and returned it to its original place on the sidewalk. You can see it in the news story above.

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