Sharing Stories, Saving Worlds
Have you ever wondered what makes the earth rumble and quake? Why tempestuous winds wreak havoc or how the sun first came to rise?
Storytelling has always played a vital role in making sense of the world around us. As a country steeped in rich oral tradition and cultural diversity, Mexico is home to infinite tales of creation and destruction, love and death. Passed down from generation to generation, these stories hold wisdom, traditions and customs that might otherwise be forgotten.
While Spanish is most widely spoken, there are in fact 364 known linguistic variants (classified into 68 different groups) in Mexico. But with over half of these indigenous dialects in a state of accelerated extinction, their stories and entire cultures are at risk of being lost to the world. In a social and economic climate which often discriminates against indigenous peoples, many parents are unwilling or unable to pass on their language to their children. So much is at stake; as the poet Miguel León Portilla warns, “when a language dies, a way of seeing the world, a window to a universe also dies.”
Inspired by Portilla’s words, Gabriela Badillo and a dedicated team of artists and animators are fighting to preserve and promote the cultural wealth of Mexico. The project 68 Voces, 68 Corazones (68 voices, 68 hearts) is an enchanting animated series which documents stories from indigenous cultures across Mexico. Working on the basis that ‘no one can love what they don’t know’, the team creates mesmerising illustrations to ignite and share native legends. The minute-long stories are recorded in their indigenous languages, with translations in English and Spanish available. Millennia of human experience are woven into these languages; the project hopes to help them survive a little longer in our world.
So far Gabriela and the Hola Combo animating team have created 36 videos, with 5 more in production and 27 left to complete. Discover some of these fierce, elemental and inspiring legends below.
The Sorcerer Cricket
When a prophet foretells the arrival of a monstrous serpent, the Yaqui people of Sonora enlist the help of a sorcerer cricket. Able to defeat the enemy, they realise their troubles have only just begun.
The Origin of Knowledge
This legend is told by the Kumiai of Baja California. It delves into the dramatic origins of the songs, dances and stories of their people which exploded outwards from the depths of an enormous snake.
The Origin of Life on Earth
Ch’ujtiat, the heavenly lord, created Earth with 12 men to carry it - when they get tired, their shaking arms provoke earthquakes. This legend from the Ch’ol people of Chiapas involves vengeful floods, humans turned into monkeys and children bursting into stars.
The Origin of the Mountains
The Cucapás people tell of a boy who bursts the testicles of a mighty monster with his bow and arrow, from which spill forth the Colorado River and the oceans. His aunt then kills the beast with a single shot and its head crashes down to form the mountain named Cerro Prieto, found in Baja California.
The First Sunrise
The Wixárika people of Jalisco say that their ancestors emerged from the sea while the world was submerged in darkness, guided only by the moon and stars. The first hunt and the first sunrise come together in this legend of sacrifice and light.
The Fireflies that Light Up the Trees
As the rains fall harder in June, the trees glow with fireflies. The Matlatzinca people light torches and sing to Saint Peter throughout the night, their happiness bringing fruit to the trees in the State of Mexico.
The Origin of the Earth
The Seri people of Sonora say that in the beginning there was only the sky, the sea and marine animals. A ginormous turtle journeys deep down to the ocean floor, sand collects under his enormous nails and the Earth as we know it began.
The Zoque-Ayapaneco people of Tabasco were once tormented by a drunken man who crashed into all in his path; houses, trees and farmlands were destroyed. Transformed into the wind, he continues to this day to be felt wandering where he pleases.
Find more information on how to support the project at https://68voces.mx/projects
Your edit for Latin American inspiration
Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.View Extraordinary Inspiration
Real Latin America Experts
Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Consultant
Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.
Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Consultant
Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made team.
Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant
Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.
Sophie Barber - Travel Consultant
Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia.
Ben Line - Travel Consultant
Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Manager of the Tailor-made Department.
Lina Fuller - Travel Consultant
Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.