Cero y Cruz

Main Piece: Cero y Cruz

The following was an interview of a Participant/interviewee about a folk riddle that is passed within his community. He is marked as AO. I am marked as DM.

AO: Les voy a, a, preguntar otra adivinanza. Haber si pueden resolverlo. Quiero que me dibujen un cero, una cruz, y un pueblo con tres letras I mean con tres líneas.

DM: Haber como se hace?

AO: Okay creen que es posible dibujar un cero, una cruz, y un pueblo completo con tres líneas no más?

DM: Pues no porque no mas con dos linas ya es la cruz.

AO: Pues ahorita les voy a demostrar que si se puede. La primera línea (draws a hill) ahí está el cero, y aquí (draws a cross) está la cruz. See?

DM: Pues donde está el pueblo?

AO: El pueblo está atrás del cero.


AO: I am going to tell you guys another riddle. Let’s see if you guys can solve it. I want you to draw me a hill, a cross, and a town with three lines.

DM: Lets see how do you do it?

AO: Okay, how do you think it is possible to draw a hill, a cross, and a complete town with three lines only?

DM: Well no because with only the cross you use two lines.

AO: Well, I am going to demonstrate that you can do it. The first line (draws a hill) here is the hill, and here (draws a cross) is the cross. See?

DM: Wait where is the town?

AO: Behind the hill.


The participant is 56 years old. He grew up in Mexico City, Mexico. Alberto, who is marked as AO, is my grandpa. When I was growing up, my grandpa loved to tell me and my sisters jokes or riddles. He would tell us it helped us develop a different way of thinking. He learned this riddle and I learned this riddle in Spanish, but it makes sense in English as well. Below is a conversation I had with AO for more background/context of the joke, which was originally in Spanish.

DM: Why do you know/ like this riddle?

AO: I like to tell this riddle because I want to make people think.

DM: Where and from who did you learn this riddle from?

AO: I learned this joke in Mexico from a friend, Rene, at the age of ten or eleven.

DM: What does this riddle mean/ signify to you?

AO: Telling jokes or phrases that make people think was a tradition in Mexico. Also, since there was no internet or tv in my time, this was a way to pass time. Telling stories, jokes, riddles was a game or form entertainment to us.

Analysis/ My Thoughts:

Every time I heard this joke I never thought about it as a way to pass time or a game. I think it is important to know that at one point riddles were a form of entertainment in some communities. The fact that people in Mexico would sit around telling each other proverbs, jokes, and riddles that learn from their families and to not think about it as folklore is amazing. The fact that one daily conversation can turn into something that will last forever.