It was the night of October 1, 1977. 7-year-old Martin Rodríguez was playing a game of hide-and-seek with some amigos in Tordesillas, Spain. When the time came for Martin and Fernando Caravelos to hide, the two boys ran to a large abandoned corral. Vagrants were known to sometimes sleep in the corral, so Martin grabbed a rock outside and threw it over the wall to be sure nobody was there.
Instead of hearing a stream of obscenities, the boys heard a clang from what sounded like a metallic object. The sound sparked their curiosity; aside from an old tilling machine, there was nothing else kept inside the corral. Going ahead of Fernando, Martin walked into the corral and noticed a metal, pear-shaped object sitting in the back of a corner.
The object was about 2.8 meters (9 feet) high and 1.95 meters (6.4 feet) wide. It had three circular windows, an elevator-like door in the middle, and three legs. The UFO made a low humming noise and flashed a variety of different colors. After a few seconds of sitting there, the object rose from the ground and suddenly shot a beam of light at Martin’s abdomen.
Fernando quickly grabbed Martin and tried to pull him away. No matter how hard he pulled, however, Martin stood in place like a statue. While Fernando took off screaming for help, Martin felt extreme pain in the spot where the light was shining. He began to feel dizzy, and as he lost his balance and fell backward, the UFO folded its legs into itself and flew away.
When Fernando and the other two boys came back to the corral, they found Martin weak and only semi-conscious. They ended up having to carry Martin back to his house, where Fernando explained to Martin’s father that his son had been attacked by a “flying car.” Naturally, Antonio was skeptical about the encounter. He decided to check the corral out himself with a friend. There the two men noticed a spot of scorched earth, a sample of which they put into a bag.
Though he was healthy before the UFO encounter, Martin now had terrible stomach pains and was constantly losing his vision and throwing up. The doctors treating Martin in Tordesillas eventually transferred him to a hospital in the city of Valladolid. Eventually, Martin was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a condition in which an excessive amount of cerebrospinal fluid surrounds the brain.
Things looked very grim for Martin. Over the next two years, he would be in and out of the hospital, undergoing a total of fourteen surgeries. Despite the odds, Martin was slowly able to recover. He lived a normal life again and went back to school, where he was an even better student than before his illness.
For the longest time, Martin Rodríguez’s story was relatively obscure until the Spanish journalist Iker Jimenez tracked him down and interviewed him in 1998. Since then, he has also appeared on an episode of a TV show hosted by Jimenez, Cuarto milenio (Fourth Millennium).
Those who believe Martin saw a UFO have attributed his sickness to the encounter. As the skeptic that I am, however, I would suggest the reverse. Vomiting, dizziness, vision loss, and even hallucinations- All are symptoms that can be attributed to Martin’s hydrocephalus.
As for Fernando, did he really follow Martin into the corral? Or did he wait outside, and after hearing his friend shout about a flying car, immediately run off to get help? And whatever happened to that grass Antonio and his friend took? Given the passage of time between the story’s occurrence and discovery, I cannot help but wonder if the story became more fantastic over time. For my two cents, Martin Rodriguez’s illness was a tragic earthly one.
Check out my book “Mexico’s Unsolved Mysteries: True Stories of Ghosts, Monsters, and UFOs from South of the Border” for more interesting mysteries of the Spanish-speaking world. You can buy the book on Kindle here.