“Pocito” is a place located in the province of San Juan in a southern region of Argentina. Its name, which means “Little pit” was originated because of a very popular legend among local residents.
The legend of Mariana, the indigenous woman
Legend says that every summer a woman came to town and stayed for the entire season. She was not tall but very very thin. Her skin was like rusty bronze, glowy but very wrinkled, probably because of all the sunbathing she did during the summer. Her look was deep and dark, it was like she was hiding some kind of aggressive behavior inside her eyes which changed color depending on the time of day.
She always worn the same big layered skirt, a washed dusty turban and a rugged “rebozo” raped around her shoulders and she was always seen with an old flimsy dog. The animal stayed with her for the entire season and never left her side.
Every year she did the exact same thing, sat on a side of the road under an old carob tree that seemed to magically bloom with her arrival and whither when she was gone. She sat there smoking big cigars and telling old stories to local children. The little ones loved her Indian tales and where lured towards her.
She spoke slowly, without looking at the motley circle of little children, in her voice, they found a world of superstitions and centuries that are already gone. People could tell she enjoyed it. Like if she was remembering some old anecdotes and childhood memories.
She knew every one of the kids by name and was very kind to them. She didn’t like adults, almost never spoke to them and always gave them a certain “evil look” some said. She only spoke to them to sell them the little golden nuggets she carried every summer with her. She said she collected them from a nearby pit that only she could find.
One day a group of Spaniards arrived to the city. They soon learned the story about an old indigenous woman and her golden nuggets. They couldn’t resist the temptation so they followed her into the dark in order to find the pit that would make them rich and steal all the gold. Instead they found Mariana’s dog, turned into an almost demonic creature with breath like fire and piercing red eyes. The men turned around and started running trying to escape the beast while hearing a witch like laughter coming from behind.
That same night a big earthquake hit Pocito city and Mariana was never seen again, neither was her dog or her golden nuggets.
Legend says that the Spaniards never came back. After several weeks only one of them was found. He was now a crazy man talking about ancient legends, demonic dogs, shiny magical caves and a beautiful queen, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
From that day on many looked for the pit where the golden nuggets could be found but no one ever found it. The city was named after that same “little pit” and many still dream about finding it and becoming very very rich. Who knows? Maybe someday someone will.