Wanderers of the Night
Last week we at XelaWho took you on the journey of Central American folklore to introduce you to such legends as El Cadejo, the dog of the drunks that roams the streets at night looking to protect or prey-upon those it encounters, and the Mico Brujos, the prankster, fruit-throwing witch monkeys that journey across the forests looking for unsuspecting victims. This month it’s time to introduce you to some more spirits that you may encounter on the darkened streets of Central America.
Perhaps the most famous tale is that of La Llorona, Guatemala’s archetypal boogey(wo)man, used to scare the wits out of little children and prevent them from roaming the streets unaccompanied at nights. According to legend, La Llorona was a woman named Maria who lived many years ago. She had two children and fell in love with a younger man who didn’t want the responsibility of looking after her burdensome kids. So she could be with him, she took her children to the Rio Pensativo of Antigua and drowned them. A rather drastic measure and one that she quickly regretted when the fickle young man proceeded to tell her that he didn’t want to be with her anyway (in fairness to the guy, the whole children-drowning thing was probably a bit of a turn-off…). After coming to terms with the gravity of what she had done, Maria took her own life. She then became trapped between the spirit world and the living world, – cursed to wonder the streets at night looking for her children and wailing “Aaayyyy, mis hijos!” (“Oh, my children!”). It is said that she will kidnap stray children who resemble her own and they will never be see again…
The tale has had many adaptations, and was even the subject of a Hollywood film that, sources say, sits comfortably alongside Batman & Robin and others as one of the worst films ever made.
Men who are unfaithful to the girlfriends or wives want to be wary of our next wanderer of the night: the Siguanaba. The Siguanaba is said to wander the streets of Guatemala at night, taking the form of a beautiful woman in a long dress. She appears to men who have been unfaithful to punish them, by catching their attention with her slender physique, glittering dress and flowing hair and luring them away from their planned routes deep into the night. She never lets them see her face until the last moment, when she removes her shawl to reveal the face of a horse with fiery eyes. Her victims either die of shock on the spot or go mad, not really too surprising for someone that’s just found out the woman they were intending to seduce actually has a horse’s face.
Finally, we have the Sombreron, a particular worry for women with a weak spot for short, guitar-wielding men. The Sombreron is kind of a mixture between Don Juan and a gremlin – a lascivious little demon that wanders the streets at night looking for women that are susceptible to his charms of seduction. He wears a black dress with a thick leather belt, chunky boots and a huge sombrero. He has a proclivity for braiding hair, and he’ll take any type that comes his way – whether it’s a woman’s, a horse’s or even a dog’s. He seduces susceptible women with his serenades, but after he succeeds they become haunted by his memory and unable to eat as all their food turns to soil. So whilst it would be a bit mean to tell our female readers to stay clear of all short men in a country like Guatemala, we would certainly recommend being wary of ones with large hats and seductive serenades, unless you fancy dirt for dinner for the rest of your stay.