Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Legend of El Pípila, the Great Hen-Turkey

I am going to live vicariously through my younger sister right now who is in Guanajuato, Mexico for the next few weeks while I remain three months deep in this grey, friggin frigid New England winter. So, Guanajuato, aquí vengo! (in spirit)

Image source: gogringo.com

This colorful crayon box of a town with a name that is always fun to say is located in central Mexico. That's....that's all I know. Except, I received a picture from my sister yesterday and noticed a statue in the distance that was vaguely reminiscent of the Motherland Calls statue in Volgograd. Which visiting is on my bucket list. After a very easy search on the internet, I discovered it is the statue, El Pípila, or "hen-turkey." This 91-foot statue sits atop San Miguel hill and was built in 1939.

Image sources: My sister and worldisround.com

"El Pípila" is the nickname of Juan José de los Reyes Martínez Amaro who was born in 1782. Pípila made his living, as did most in Guanajuato, as a miner. While Pípila was growing up, Guanajuato was the largest exporter of silver in the world. Pípila got his nickname because allegedly his skin was similar to a turkey's and/or his laughter resembled a turkey gobble. Which I assume sounds something like this:

Why the statue of the turkey miner?

On September 8th, 1810, during the Mexican War of Independence against Spain, Spanish soldiers barricaded themselves in a Guanajuato warehouse. The soldiers were guarding money, treasure, military equipment, and food supplies, all which were necessary to withstand the Mexican siege upon them. Their fortress was made entirely of stone, except for one wooden door. Pípila, 28 years old at the time, quietly crawled to the door, set it on fire and stormed inside, killing all the Spanish soldiers. Allegedly this Pípila-sole-avenger story is not true and most say he had plenty of assistance. Regardless, his statue stands tall over Guanajuato as a symbol of Mexico's freedom from Spanish rule.

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