The Abuela Chronicles: The Trouble with Papá’s Siesta

Abuela Rigo lived a life full of adventures and hardships. She loved and fought for what she believed in and for those she loved the most. Her stories growing up very rich (and then very poor) in Puerto Rico are the stuff of legends, and I'll try to share them- and her- with you. Welcome to The Abuela Chronicles.

The trouble with Papá's siestaThe trouble with Papá's siestaThe Comerío house was finally closed for the season, and the brand new Ford T was packed to the gills with the family's belongings. Don Pepe (Papá), his wife Petra (Mamá), the four kids and now four year-old Rigo were ready to head out once again. Pepe was the supervising manager of one of the largest tobacco production companies in Puerto Rico, and his job required him to move to a different town every few years to oversee a new operation. This time, they were traveling to the town of Coamo, and the kids seemed more excited than usual. Papá had mentioned that there would be a surprise at the new house.

"It's a dog!" the children screeched with delight at the sight of a beautiful black and white animal waiting for them in front of the Coamo house. It was Peggy, a very well-behaved border collie that belonged to the man who took care of the house. My abuela Rigo, the youngest of the children, was wide-eyed as she saw a dog for the first time in her life.

Read the amazing story of little Rigo's birth: "The Lizard in the Shoebox"

Rigo and Peggy quickly became best friends. Although the dog was trained to keep strict rules of separation with humans and canine, Rigo quickly learned how to win the disciplined pooch over by secretly feeding her under the table at every meal. Soon there were tea parties with Peggy dressed in Rigo's older sister's hat or Peggy dragging the boys' cars and trucks. The little girl had her own warm and furry companion.

As the family settled in the Coamo house, a daily routine was established. Every day, Papá would come home to have lunch time with the family, which consisted of an abundant three-course meal followed by a nice, long siesta. This after-lunch nap time became a standard required by Papá, who had been up working at the plantation since dawn. Children were changed into comfortable clothes and put to bed with strict orders to stay quiet and in bed without interrupting their father's siesta, or else there would be inescapable fuete (spanking) to be had.

Little Rigo, who thought of resting time as the most boring part of the day, thought it even more unbearable because Peggy was not allowed inside the children's room, let alone in anyone's bed. Soon, though, she came to realize that if she waited for everyone to fall asleep, she could escape out of the house and bring her canine friend along. So, every afternoon, once the familiar snores began to resonate, Rigo would pick up a pair of pants, and tip toe her way out of the kids' room and into the corridor where Peggy was waiting. She figured every creak and squeak of the floor and learned how to avoid them. By the time Mamá came to check on the children, Rigo was back "asleep" under her blanket and Peggy was laying down outside the door as if nothing ever happened.

One day, the siesta delinquents were carelessly playing in the backyard, when Rigo heard steps, strong Abuela Rigo circa 1977Abuela Rigo circa 1977steps. Papá was up! And before they could make their usual fast return to the children's room, Papá saw them outside. "So you are the ones making all that noise! Rigo! Peggy! Come here you two!" The threats of spanking only made things worse, so instead of coming back to the house, the noisy playmates took off into the woods to hide. Papá's threats became more and more faint, letting the girl know it was safe to come out. Thinking that Papá had gone back to work, the wayward pair came quietly back to the house, only to be met by Mamá's menacing stare and a good pulling of ears. Without saying a word, the girl put on her siesta clothes and went back to bed, where she remained without dinner until the next day. Peggy-well, Peggy was evicted from the house and went to live outside with the chickens until Papa's wrath subsided many days later.

They learned their lesson, though-when having a siesta, there can be no fiesta!

And like abuela used to say, "Un día de estos se van a acordar de mi." (You'll remember me one of these days.)

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Find the entire series of "The Abuela Chronicles" here:

The Lizard in the Shoebox

The Trouble with Papá's Siesta

A Girl More Famous Than the Circus

Rich at Last