Rabbit and Coyote
a Mayan Folk Tale rewritten by Phillip Martin

The Maya civilization extended throughout southern Mexico and into Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. The Maya cities reached their highest state of development during the Classic period (c. 250 to 900 AD). They continued until the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.

Although the empire is long gone, the Maya people survived the Spanish colonization and still live in the region where their ancestors did. This tale about the trickster Rabbit is a part of their rich cultural history.


"Ugh! Grrr! Ooof! Aarg!" grunted the rabbit, his shoulder pressed hard against the rock.

Of course, coyote heard the noise. And, when he got close enough to see Rabbit, he had to ask. "What on earth are you doing?"

"I thought everyone knew," panted the rabbit. "The sky is falling! I'm holding up these rocks to save us all!"

"Why didn't anyone tell me the sky is falling?" demanded Coyote.

"Well, I'm telling you now. These rocks support the sky. If we let them fall over, then we will all surely die!"

"I don't want that to happen," cried the coyote. "What can I do to help?"

"I'm so glad you asked," said the rabbit. "I have a plan. If you hold up these rocks, I'll go get a heavy stick to help support them. That way, we can all be saved."

Coyote pressed both of his hands against the rocks and leaned in with all his might. There was no way the sky was going to fall if he had anything to do about it. "Ugh! Grrr! Ooof! Aarg!" he grunted.

Rabbit skipped off, barely able to hide his smile.

The poor coyote pressed on and on. As the weight of the rocks tired him, the coyote called out for help. But, Rabbit never returned with a heavy stick. He was too busy telling everyone about his latest trick on the foolish coyote.

When the struggle became just too much, Coyote finally gave up. "Even if the sky falls on me, I can't support these rocks any longer," he moaned. He let go of the rocks and scurried away into a ravine for some protection. Of couse, the sky didn't fall and Coyote didn't need any protection. And, unfortunately, the foolish coyote didn't learn his lesson either.

A few evenings later, Rabbit came upon a pond. When he saw the reflection of the moon, a smile crossed over his face. He had another trick for the foolish coyote. And, it wasn't long before he heard his friend on the path leading to the pond.

Immediately Rabbit began drinking from the pond. But, it wasn't the gentle lapping of water as he normally drank. The rabbit gulped and slurped, slurped and gulped as fast as he could. When Coyote saw this, he just had to ask, "What is going on, Rabbit? You never drink like this."

"Excuse me, my friend," said the rabbit. "There is so much food at the bottom of the pond."

"Really?" asked the suddenly very interested coyote.

"Oh, yes," replied Rabbit. "Take a look into the pond and see for yourself."

The foolish coyote peered over the edge of the pond and saw the yellow reflection of the moon looking back at him. "I think it's cheese and I really love cheese," said Coyote. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"I do have a plan, now that you ask," admitted the rabbit. "I think if we drink the water from the pond, all of it, we will be able to get the food."

"That make perfect sense to me," agreed the coyote.

"Since you are so much bigger than me, why don't you go first?" suggested Rabbit. "A big strong coyote like yourself should be able to drink all of the water. Of course, I'll help if you need me to."

The coyote looked at the little rabbit and smiled, " There's no need for your help. I can do this." And, he started gulping and slurping, slurping and gulping at the water's edge.

"If you will excuse me for just a moment, I need to go do something," said Rabbit. He didn't mention that that something was to tell all of their friends how he had tricked the foolish coyote one more time.

Fortunately for Coyote, he didn't hear Rabbit. He was just too busy slurping and gulping. Unfortunately for Coyote, he slurped and gulped way too much. He never could drink all of the water in the pond. But, he certainly did drink enough to get a stomach ache. When he could drink no more, the poor coyote hobbled home and went to sleep. He no longer had any desire to eat cheese ever again.

Copyright 2011 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.