Guatemalan Legends by Diana Pastor

Guatemala is a land rich in traditions and legends. Many of them have passed through history as stories told by grandparents to parents, and parents to children. I have heard more than once that the stories that people tell are from their own experience, assuring me that they are one hundred percent true stories.

One of the most popular legends is that of La Llorona. The origins of this story are very old – and vary depending on who is telling it. It is told that a woman (La Llorona) shouts in the streets late at night and early in the morning, saying “oh my children!” or  “where are my children?”

It is told that La Llorona drowned her children, and after she died her spirit was left wandering the land forever punished in distress . Due to the nature of the crime, her screams can be heard near rivers, pools or public laundries, or any place where there is water. It is also said that when her crying or screaming is hard to hear is because she´s close , and when her crying and screaming sounds near is because she´s far.

There is also the legend of the sombrerón, who is a miniature man with a big hat (hence the name sombrerón — see picture on the bottom right). The miniature man plays guitar for young and pretty girls and braids their hair, and wants to make them fall in love with him. After braiding their hair, they fall under his spell and then cannot eat or sleep.

You’ll know that sombrerón has been nearby because of his signature braids, which can be seen on women, dogs, and even horses. The sombrerón is represented as a small man with gifts of gallantry.

Another popular and well-known legend is that of cadejo. This is an animal described as a black dog and red eyes that follows men who are drunk and lost in the streets. The cadejo, unlike La Llorona and sombrerón is a benign entity, helping those who have drunk too much to get home safely and protects them from being robbed or hurt. In some versions of this legend, it is said that there are different types of cadejos, including those of different colors and characteristics. But in all of the stories, the cadejo helps those who need a watchful eye on their journey home.

Keep an eye out for more Guatemalan legends, they are a great way to learn Spanish and local culture.

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