Hand Games (La vibora de la mar)

When I was little, there was a… like, a hand game, I guess, I used to play with my… my cousins and my friends… uh, back in Mexico, in Morelia. Uh, and it was one of those where you, like… you know… (pantomimes clapping her hands and slapping the hands of a person sitting in front of her) Um… but the words to this one, like, the song that went with it… uh, it was to the tune of “La víbora de la mar,” which is a song that, like, people dance to at a lot of… traditional Mexican weddings… uh, but for this game, the words changed to:

“A la víbora, víbora de la mar, de la mar

Los cuadernos a volar

Las maestras a la calle

Y los niños a jugar

Una vieja gorda

De la dirección

Siempre nos acusa

Con el director

Señor director

Su perro me mordió

Lo voy a echar al horno

Con sal y limón

El que se mueva se lo comerá

Yo mejor me quedo así”


“To the serpent, serpent, of the sea, of the sea

The notebooks go flying

The teachers go to the streets

And the children go to play

An old, fat woman

From the administration

Always reports us to the principal

Mister principal

Your dog bit me

I’m going to throw him in the oven with salt and lime

Whoever moves will eat him

I’d better stay like this”)

Uh, and then you’d have to, like, freeze, and whoever moved first lost. Uh… yeah, and that was just one of the hand games I played a lot when… when I was younger.



This song/game contains many tropes common to children’s rhymes/games: overpowering the teachers and getting out of school, getting the chance to play instead, and cruel school administrators that hurt the children, but who will receive their punishment (by having their dog killed and cooked). There are also a lot of children’s games that involve staying completely still, and the person who moves first losing and receiving some sort of punishment.