If you suddenly hear a carreta—a wooden cart pulled by horses—in the middle of the night, you better not sneak a peek through a window, no matter how small the orifice is. It may be the Carreta Nagua.
La Carreta Nagua is noisy, as if the way is not paved as the wheels hit rocks and the whole content of this dark carreta is shaken at every second. In the lonely quiet streets, the clatter is louder and scary. Those brave enough to look through a window say that is an old carreta, bigger than the standard carretas which is covered by a white sheet. It is driven by the Skeleton of Death in white robes with its traditional scythe on the left shoulder. This Carreta Nagua is pulled by two skinny steers; you can see their ribs, one is black and the other light. It never turns around corners. If it must turn in any corner, it disappears and reappears in the other street.
La Carreta Nagua is considered the embodiment of Nicaraguan folklore and mythology. The tale is a blend of past realities and imaginative oral culture. Apparently, the story of La Carreta Nagua is based on caravans of Spaniards who conquered the land during the 16th century. As the ox carts moved through the land the Spaniards would plunder the Indian settlements, taking their gold and supplies as well as capturing slaves. Slaves were chained and led along on these journeys as the Spanish carts left ruin and death in their wake.
Legend states that La Carreta Nagua makes his way through towns from about 1:00 am, making a racket as his ancient oxen pull his cart along. Individuals who say they have heard him in the night have discovered that one of the town’s citizens is dead the next day. Those have ‘seen’ this mysterious entourage of oxen and lost souls say that it moves quickly and is unable to turn corners due to is cross shape, simply disappearing as it reaches the end of a road. This tale may have been created to provide Nicaraguans with a tangible understanding of death.