Erlina and Irene: Epic

Background: Informant is a Mexican-American college student. He believes strongly in his superstitions and magical energies. This story takes place in Las Grutas Tolantongo in Mexico. It’s a village right outside of an area with hot springs. This happened when the informants grandmother was 7, so in the 1960s. 

Informant: My grandma, she had her best friend – so say you’re like my best friend, okay? And we make a promise because, you know, best friends, they wanna stay together forever, so, like she said “if I die, you come with me, like I’ll take you with me. And like, if you die, you take me with you so that we could be in heaven together, okay?” So then, her best friend Erlinda said, “if I die, I’m going to take you by your feet! I’m gonna take you by your feet to heaven with me, like your going to die with me.” And my grandma Irene was like, “No, no don’t pull me by feet!” 

So this was happening in this village. It’s called Las Grutas Tolantongo. It’s a little village, it’s like hot tubs, like little hot springs, but outside of it is this village. And they would always play under a tree with their neighbors. So, since Irene and Erlinda were neighbors, they could always see into each other’s houses, and like when the time came that Erlinda wasn’t coming out anymore to come play with her, Irene would always see Erlinda laying out on the bed.
So, witches exist. Like, in Mexico… you might not believe in witches but like, they’re definitely a thing in Mexico. So, I guess the village– they had a lot of envy towards Erlinda’s mom. Cause’ Erlinda had her little business, she had to send her workers out early in the morning. So, it was revealed to Erlina’s mom, her name was Doña tele– it was revealed after they found out that Erlina got sick that someone had tried to put a curse on her! But, it was intended for whoever woke up first and left the house, and since Doña tele always woke up at 3 in the morning to send her workers out, it was intended for her. So, Erlinda had to use the bathroom late at night, and because they had communal bathrooms outside of the house, Erlinda got sick instead of Doña tele, who the curse was intended for. Like, when she crossed the doorway, they put dirt in front of her doorway like in the Conjuring. So, whoever crossed over it, like whatever bad energy would go to them.

So, fast forward a few months later in July which is the end of the school year in Mexico, Erlinda died! Like, she died! But Irene realized when she went to her funeral that she made a promise that if she died she was going to take me! And I promised that she was going to take me! And she was like “Noooo! I’m so scared, like no no no no!” And the scary part is, they didn’t have morticians so the viewing– like her mouth was open, her eyes were cloudy, like have you seen a dead person? 

So, Irene, like after she saw Erlinda dead she kept having nightmares of Erlinda. Like, one time my grandma told me that she saw Erlinda in a dream. Like, you know how sometimes dreams feel real so you wake up in the dream? So, she woke up and saw Erlinda playing in her room through the window and she was like “*gasps* Erlinda, you’re not dead?” And Erlinda is facing away from her ignoring her. And then, Erlinda turns around and the face that she had in the casket was the same face she had when she turned around. And Irene freaked out because Erlinda said “If I catch you, you’re coming with me.” So, Erlinda would chase Irene throughout the whole village and Irene would float like a skywalker. And Irene would always wake up sweating like crazy, afraid she’d go into cardiac arrest every night. The dreams happened from May 12 to August 18th, like she just couldn’t handle it anymore.

I forgot to mention this part, but her brother Chava would always come from Mexico City because that’s where he worked. So when Erlinda died, he came to pay his respects. But when the time came for him to go back to Mexico City, Irene was like “take me with you! Because maybe if I go, I won’t be able to dream of her anymore.” So, she went and she never dreamed of her again. But, like, the scary part was when my grandma was telling me this story we were in the lounge of my dorm and the lights went off. And I know they’re motion sensors but I was moving around! So, I was like, “Erlinda? Is she here?” Like, that’s scary!

Reflection: I absolutely loved hearing this story from my roommate. They were so animated as they told me the story and it was entertaining to hear it from them. I especially liked the way they told the story, as they were really unfiltered and imperfect in how they told it, which was fun to watch. This story was so entertaining, and it was so cool to learn about their culture through an anecdote like this one. The part where they say that magic exists in Mexico was so cool, as they acknowledge that in American culture we don’t believe in magic, but how in Mexican culture it is accepted.