The tale of Romeo and Juliet is, no doubt, one of the most tragic stories ever in which death is preferred to living a life away from a loved one and you could say that in Mexico we have one just -or almost- as tragic. It’s known as the Legend of the Callejón del Beso, the Kissing Alley, starring Luis and Carmen.
Carmen was a lady of a high lineage, who lived a wealthy life with no privations in the city of Guanajuato, in the state of the same name. Her father, who was known for having a short temper, loved her very much and already had plans made for her future. He wished to marry her to a wealthy Spaniard, much older than she was, with the sole intention to increase her already large fortune. Nevertheless, Carmen already had a secret lover way out of sight from everyone. The only one who know about this affair was Carmen’s handmaiden, Brígida, who guarded her secret like her own and helped set up their trysts. Luis, Carmen’s lover, was from a poor family, the son of lowly miners that had little to offer. The young lovers knew their romance was an impossible one but they didn’t care much for it and slowly they started weaving their love story.
The fairytale didn’t last long though, for Carmen’s father found out about the affair his daughter had behind his back. Blinded by rage and deaf to any protest he sentenced his daughter to a life in a secluded Spanish convent. Carmen wept and begged her father, asking him to see reason but her efforts were in vain. The only thing she got was permission to pen a letter to Luis, to be delivered by Brígida to let him know she was leaving for the convent and would never return again. When Luis read the letter, he started devising a plan and doing everything he could to be close to Carmen. It’s widely known he used gold to buy the house behind hers, whose walls were so close that one only needed to stretch their arm to touch the other house’s.
This is how Carmen and Luis could be together…for a short time. They talked in hushed voices, spent hours looking into each other’s eyes and holding the other’s hands while Brígida stood dutiful watch to make sure Carmen’s father was far from her room, but one day Carmen’s father tried to get into the room despite Brígida’s protests. Her father, in a fit of short-fused anger, shoved Brígida aside and barged into the room. Upon seeing Carmen holding Luis’s hand he went mad with rage and stabbed his own daughter twice on the chest. Luis, stunned and terrified could do nothing but hold the hand of his beloved one and see the life leave her body, but not before giving the back of Carmen’s hand a soft and warm kiss.
This story has been passed down since then and the alley is now a popular place for couples to visit and kiss under the windows of Luis and Carmen, lest they face 7 years of bad luck in love…or so the townsfolk say.