Friday, October 05, 2007

Non-fiction Friday- Chequi Morena

This week's challenge was: use the first line of a nursery rhyme (your choice) to start your own story.

My entry this week is non-fiction.

El juez le dijo al cura ¡curita!
El cura le dijo al juez ¿qué, juez?
¿Que a donde está ese rimo, caramba
del merecumbé?

Chequi morena, chequi
Chequi morena, ué
¿Que a donde está ese rimo, caramba
del merecumbé?

Un pasito a'lante
y otro para atrás
Y dando la vuelta
y dando la vuelta
¿Quién se quedará, ué?

When I was little I loved to sing and play chequi morena. At school during recess we got together and made a circle. One girl stood in the middle of the circle and danced while the others sang and clapped. Then she would close her eyes and twirl with the finger pointing forward. Once she stopped, whoever she was pointing at would take her place in the circle. In my school we were not that many kids, so boys and girls played together. It was funny whenever a boy was it.

Being chosen to be in the center was always a source of excitement and embarrassment to me. I absolutely loved standing in the center and shaking it, but I also dreaded being perceived as a goofy dork. In the end the excitement always won over the self-consciousness. Among playground song games, chequi morena was my favorite.

At the time I wasn't entirely sure what the words I was singing meant or what exactly did they have to do with the game. Now I know that chequi morena was Caribbean Spanish for shake it, morena (morena being a dark-skinned woman), and that I was pronouncing rimo in error, the correct word being ritmo, or rythym. What rythym was that? The merecumbé, which is a combination of merengue (Dominican Republic) and cumbia (Colombia). At the time I did not know that either. I thought the Merecumbé was some faraway country.

To me the rimo del Merecumbé alluded to in the song was some kind of mythical, cattle-like creature that was lost. The priest and judge of the song sure seemed to be keen on finding the rimo, so it must have been quite an important animal, I thought.


  1. That's adorable. Your story made me want to be a kid again :o)

  2. It seems children's games are the same the world over! Though our games lacked the beautiful rhythm and dancing of yours - rooted instead in some Ancient English dowdy tale!

  3. Chequi morena y la señorita Elena eran mis juegos infantiles favoritos. Gracias por tan lindos recuerdos.


  4. I want to go back to being a kid. I loved your post!

  5. Pen, gautami, thanks. I enjoyed writing it and was briefly transported back to my childhood, which was fun.

    Thanks, Jodi. I thought about doing the exercise with one of the Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes, but I really did not know them when I was growing up. I came to know them as a grownup.

    Enid, gracias. Mi otro juego favorito era un, dos, tres... ¡pescao!

  6. this was wonderful.. i love your little forays into all things spanish,,, it is a whole new world for me...

  7. Ah. All those childhood games...

    Funny, but you know, I don't think my daughter's set plays them like we did...

  8. Loved this post, Ingrid - back to the wonderful innocense of childhood, when the things in life seemed so simple, even if we sometimes confused the words! :-)

  9. Hola! :-) Thanks for sharing your trip down memory lane. I had "Ring a ring of roses" pop into my head as a pale equivalent - I certainly like chequi morena more :-)

    ~willow~(A little late doing the rest of the Fiction Friday rounds!)

  10. I loved your story! I went home to visit my family in Puerto Rico for my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary and all of my aunts and cousins and sisters and mamí played this on the stage. It felt really good reading this and going back to this past summer. I also remember asking my mom to explain what a chequi was and getting the same confusing response of "shake it"!! :D