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Caló: Close the screen door or the moyotes will come in

Órale, the feature today is the term ‘moyote.’ It’s the Nahuatl or Aztec word for mosquito. While you’ll hear it used outside the Rio Grande region in Mexico, zancudo and mosquito are the more common terms used for this biting insect in most of the Spanish-speaking world. Along the Rio Grande where Caló is spoken, however, moyote is the preferred term for this stinger. 

Oscar "El Marfa" Rodriguez

The “ride” having dropped him off in front of his grandmother’s house, Boy walked through the yard cluttered with saddles, reigns, ropes, and mule-drawn faming implements. When he got to the kitchen door, he peered in. It was dark. He couldn’t see much, as the sun was low in the sky and cast long shadows across the land. 

“'Buelita, it’s me, Boy,” he said through the screen. 

He heard shuffling inside. Boy opened the door to see better. In the sleeping room, he saw his grandmother rousting from a late siesta. 

She sat up on the bed she was lying on and turned to him.

“Close the screen door or the moyotes will come in,” she whispered to him.

 Boy quickly shut the door.

“See, I can hear some already came in,” she said.

“You’re going to regret it. Come here little one. Give your grandmother a hug,” she said.

Boy walked over and sat next to his grandmother.

“Did you hear on the radio I was coming” he asked her.

“Sí, I heard this morning. I was expecting you all day. What took you so long to get here?” she said.

“We got ponchados on the road," Boy said. And then the extra was out of air. Then we had to take Cleofas home,” Boy responded.

“Ah,” his grandmother said. 

“Just you and Cleofas in the ride?” she asked.

“Sí,” said Boy and wrinkled his brows and thought a long while before he spoke again.

“The man driving the ride said Cleofas’ family are bears,” he added, expecting a big reaction from his grandmother. 

She combed back his hair with both hands.

“Ehh. Who knows if they’re all bears, but some of them certainly are. Out at night going in all directions. Probably meeting up with other bears,” she said.

The confirmation of the information astounded Boy. Bears living as or even with people was something he had never heard of. 

His grandmother noted his quandary by waving her hand to tell him not to worry.

“You’ll always run into people who aren’t really people. Some are bears. Some are owls. Some are other things,” she said.

“Like that boy, Cleofas. They’ve seen him alone in the middle of the night walking along the acequias, the irrigation ditches, at one end of the valley. Then the next night they’ll see him loitering at the pool hall on the other end of the valley. Same as his uncles,” she said.

The news still incredible to Boy. Until then, he thought everybody went to bed at night. 

“Do they get into the houses?” asked Boy.

“Like the moyotes, they’ll come in if you leave the door open. But not if you shut the door to them,” she told him.

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