After Tio Tigre passes, Conejo takes a shortcut through
the forest, runs ahead, and lies in Tio Tigre’s path a
second time. Again,
Tio Tigre leaves the rabbit. Conejo tries a third time.
This time, Tio Tigre decides that three dead rabbits
are too many to bypass. He puts down his baskets to retrace his steps
and pick up the other rabbits.
While he is gone, Conejo steals the baskets.
story I know involves Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear, and a
pair of shoes. Brer
Rabbit similarly tricks Brer Bear out of a load of fish
by leaving first one shoe in the road and then the other.
Brer Bear ignores the first shoe but, when he sees
its mate, is unable to resist owning the pair.
He too puts down his load, and the rest is folktale.
Harold Courlander (1976) recounts a Gullah tale,
featuring Brer Rabbit and called “Playing Dead in the
Road,” that is almost identical to Garcia’s “Tio Tigre
I had heard my story from other African American storytellers
in the United States; the Gullah live in the Sea Islands
off the coast of South Carolina, and Garcia had collected
his story in Ecuador. Yet these stories obviously shared the same
source. They are
linked by a common African heritage.
tales in ihe Western Hemisphere
The population of Ecuador is ethnically mixed. About 5 percent of the population is descended
from African slaves, some of whom were Maroons, escaped
slaves. Richard Price states that the word maroon
comes from the Spanish word cimarron, which
originally was applied to cattle that had wandered into
the hills. At
first the word maroon was applied to escaped American
Indian slaves, but by the end of the sixteenth century
it almost exclusively referred to African and African
American escapees. Slave
owners frequently attacked the Maroon settlements in an
effort to reclaim the slaves.
To deter attacks from slave-owners bent on reclaiming
their “property,” Maroon communities were located in isolated
and inaccessible territories. This situation contributed to the preservation of the people’s traditions.
Most Afro-Ecuadorians live in the northern coastal
region of Esmeraldas Province; approximately 85 percent
of the province’s population is of African descent.
In addition, there is a small community of black
people living in relative isolation in the Andes Mountains,
in the Chota valley of Imbabura Province. These people are descendants of African slaves
who chose to remain on the haciendas after the Jesuits
were expelled from Ecuador around the end of the nineteenth
Garcia, from Esmeraldas, is of Spanish and African
descent. His father
was a refugee from the Spanish Civil War and died when
Garcia was eight years old.