Chronicles de amor

Take a trip through Latin America’s star-crossed tales.

Heart candies in the background. Map of Latin America with arrows pointing to the  landmarks from the article.

Everyone has heard of Romeo and Juliet. It’s a Shakespearean tragedy that plays on the century old curse of star crossed lovers. But, before there was Juliet, there was Doña Carmen, Vanushka and many more protagonists from Latin America that star in love-lore.

For this Valentine’s Day, here are some of the most infamous love stories from across Latin America that still live on today through landmarks and storytelling:

El Callejón del Beso

Guanajuato, Mexico

There is a beautiful alleyway in the heart of Guanajuato where lovers visit and must kiss on the third step so their love could last forever. The reason for this superstition stems from the story of Doña Carmen and her lover, Don Luis.

Carmen was an only child to a greedy father that wanted to marry her to someone rich, but she fell in love with a poor miner named Luis. Carmen and Luis would meet in secret until her father caught them and locked her up in her room, waiting to marry her off to a Spanish nobleman.

Luis, in agony, would walk around Carmen’s home, and that’s when he noticed her window was a mere few inches from a window across the street. He gave up all his life savings and bought the house next to Carmen’s and would regularly court Carmen through the window.

One night, however, her father found them kissing, and in a rage, put a dagger in his daughter’s chest, killing her. Luis, before jumping off the building and dying, gave Carmen one last kiss on the hand. Thus, a legend began.

Story of Vanushka

Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

There is a tomb in Guatemala where people visit and leave flowers and a note, with the hopes that the offering will reunite the person with their lover. The name on the tomb is Vanushka.

Vanushka moved from Eastern Europe to Guatemala to perform in the circus and make money. During one of her performances, a wealthy man named Javier became entranced by her beauty. After the show they began to court each other, which lasted several weeks; however, Javier’s family did not approve.

Javier was forced to leave for university in Spain. In the absence of her lover, Vanushka became ill and died of a broken heart. Her tomb became a famous spot since then.

Legend of Bibosi and Motacú

Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Deep in the Bolivian forest, there is a type of tree which grows and twists around other trees, killing them, called bibosi. But the origin story of these trees is what captures many tourists.

A long time ago, a hard working man fell in love with a beautiful girl, and they began to see each other. When her parents found out, they arranged for the girl to marry someone else. On their last night together, the star-crossed couple met in the middle of the night to talk one last time and cry.

During their final embrace, they cried and hugged so strongly that they died intertwined in each other. Locals say that the first bibosi and motachú grew intertwined on the spot where the couple died.

The love story of Huascarán and Huandoy mountains

Ancash, Peru

The story begins with the expansion of the Cusco people during the Inca Empire. The chief of the tribe, who inhabited the land at the time, went to negotiate peace and came back with Cusqueño warrior Huáscar.

During his stay with the peaceful tribe, Huáscar met a beautiful woman who happened to be the daughter of the chief, whose name was Huandy. They ran away, knowing they could never be together, due to their tribal conflicts.

The chief ordered their capture and imprisoned them. He tied them to wooden logs where they could watch each other die. They cried until they both were dry. The tears of Hunday created Lake Chinancocha and the tears of Huáscar created Lake Orcococha.

The sun god, Inti, observed their pain and sent storms to the area so that their bodies would be covered, eventually forming the snow-covered mountains Huascarán (Huáscar) and Huandoy (Huandy).

So although the most famous star-crossed lovers story may be Romeo and Juliet, there were many predecessors that were crucial to the folklore and establishment of Latin American traditions.