Legend of El Serro de la Campana ( The Hill of the Bell)

 Context: AB is a 49 year old mexican woman that works in the auxiliary department for the USC payroll. I met her with her twice when I applied for on campus jobs. I asked if I could have coffee so she could tell me about known legends from her hometown. 

YM: So can you tell me about some interesting stories you know about 

AB:  Oh my god, yes ! There’s a lot of stories i know about ghosts and stuff, but I have a favorite one in which I had a personal experience 

YM: wow that’s awesome ! tell me more 

AB: Alright so it has nothing to do with ghosts but it is about an enchanted hill. So in San Miguel Tilapa, there had always been rumors and stories that ranchers from outside town would see strange things on this hill on their way to Puebla. It wasn’t specific when these strange things happened but that there were times at night when people would pass by this hill named El Cerro de la Campana, la campana because it was shaped like a bell. And…t is said that this hill would open up because it was enchanted. That the person that had the luck or had the vision could see this hill open up. 

YM: So it was selective ? meaning it only happened to some ? not everyone ?

AB: Yes! not just anybody, because that hill was enchanted. I guess it was for people that I guess the hill wanted to bless. 

AB:They would see the hill open. They would look and would see a store with a lot of beautiful things. So when people would see this they would become enthusiastic and would you know think “ wow what a beautiful store, I’m going in.” The story goes that the person who would enter the store or the hill and do it quickly and come right back out before the hill closes… And a lot of people know this… people that would go in quickly and come back out with an item they grabbed from the store… that item would turn into gold.

AB: But some people at the sight of these beautiful things would get excited and lose track of time and stay in there. They would stay in there for years. For them it seems like a moment that they were in there. And when the hill opens up again, and the person comes out he dies when the air hits him. 

YM: and that’s because they were in there for a song long that the air sort of kills them ? 

AB: aha right.. That is why they have to go in quickly and come right back out as soon as possible. You know people were found dead there and no one knew what had happened to them. The people would then remember that they had disappeared long ago

YM: wow and people knew of people that had come out?

AB: yes and this people would say that the item they had grabbed had turned into gold… and something actually happened to me and my sister on that same hill when I was 13 years old. I remember when I told my dad about what we’d seen he got super mad at us because during that time there were no crops of any kind. You couldn’t even seed any plant and on that hill we saw a plant with two HUGE tomatoes… I mean HUGE, out of the normal kind. And me and my sister were surprised to see this, my sister being the older one said we shouldn’t go up and pluck them since… sometimes there were snakes around. So we went our way… on our way back the plant wasn’t there anymore! When we got home I told my dad what we’d seen and he exclaimed “ why didn’t you guys pluck them ! it was money!” so the enchantment was the tomato plant. Had we plucked them they would have turned into gold. At the time I didn’t know about this, if I had I would have snatched those babies hahaha 

YM: hahaha oh my god… so the enchantment wasn’t just a store? 

AB: no, there were all kinds of enchantments that people saw that were strange but the most common one was the store

YM: that’s so interesting 

AB: And years after around 1994, people dug up part of the hill to plant cane and underground they discovered gold ! the government even came to claim the gold. It’s true… I guess the hill would bring out its gold in a magical way to the people it thought were deserving of

YM: What ! that is crazy! Amazing. So you believe this ? 

AB: Yes 100%, I think there are parts of the world or land that are more magical than we think they are

YM: Beautiful 

Background info: AB was born in Tilapa, Puebla. As a child she would often pass this hill and it wasn’t until her strange encounter with the hill that she learned about this legend. Years would pass by and never again did she see a strange thing . 

Analysis: This legend includes a memorate: personal experience explained by traditional narrative. This experience reinforced the belief that this hill is enchanted for AB. It also seems to have localized history inside the contemporary realm. However this history is unofficial. You can tell this legend was also reinforced by FOAF (friend of a friend) telling. Meaning these strange occurrences that happened to people were passed along from people to people. The legend is liminal, in between or right on the line between the real world and a supernatural world.