These Urban Legends Are The Things Of Nightmares And We Pray They Aren’t Real
Even in this day and age where #fakenews and hoaxes have caused a lot of damage, us Latinos have to admit that a good urban legend or conspiracy theory is super entertaining. Let’s be honest: our gente are sort of superstitious and a bit chismosas by nature (maybe it is that Catholic upbringing many of us have, maybe it is our hypercreative mind). Truth is that urban legends have taken deep root in our collective mind.
We can think, for example, of the hundreds of hours that people have spent looking for the Loch Ness monster, or all the people who argue that they have definitely seen Big Foot.
So what is an urban legend or myth?
The Oxford dictionary describes it as follows, although we gotta tell that the definition is pretty Anglo and us Latinos take these leyendas urbanas much more seriously : “urban myth noun: a humorous or horrific story or piece of information circulated as though true, especially one purporting to involve someone vaguely related or known to the teller”
But can it be real? Not really, but there could have been a spike in the population of predatory species in Northern Mexico, or a drought that forced animals to hunt beyond their usual territory.
El Chupacabra is like the epitome of the Latino urban legend. In 1994, just as Mexico was living perhaps its most turbulent political time since the Mexican Revolution, sightings of a terrible beast in rural areas started to be reported. Goats and other livestock were reportedly found dead, their blood completely sucked dry. Mass hysteria followed! Critics said that this was just a government plot to distract the population. Even the cult 1990s sci-fi show The X-Files aired a Chupacabra-themed episode!
But can it be real? Well, it depends on whether you believe in the supernatural or not… It is a pretty good moral story against male lust though.
This is a Dominican myth that has scared people from the island for centuries. Legend goes that there is a nymph-like creature living in the caves of the Dominican Republic, and that they hunt men by luring them with their beauty. They kill and eat their victims.
And of course, La Llorona.
But can it be real? It is real in its metaphorical nature, as it speaks of motherly love and suffering.
Ay, mis hijos! For some, La Llorona is only a myth, a story to scare kids with. Others swear that they have seen her roaming the night with her mournful cry. She is supposed to have been a woman who was abandoned by her husband and was left alone to raise her two kids. She instead drowned them, overwhelmed by their needs.
But can it be real? No, but the need to go to sleep in time to let your parents have a life of their own is real!
If you grew up Latino you heard of El Coco, also known as El Cucuy. It is a horrible monster than visits kids at night when they just refuse to go to sleep or if you misbehave. If we think about it, this is pretty traumatizing and even though some Latino mothers find in El Coco their best ally, it kinda sucks!
La Luz Mala
But can it be real? Well, yes, it exists, but as a meteorological phenomenon rather than a supernatural hell.
In rural Argentina people get afraid of “La luz mala”, which means “The Evil Light”, when the air is dry and an orange, heavy light can be seen suspended on the air. Story goes that it is the souls of the damned and that it spells trouble, a bad omen that will bring suffering to those who see it. Other versions indicate that the light comes from an indigenous pot and that if you find it you will become rich.
The Black Witch Moth or Mariposas Negras
But can it be real? They are spooky as hell, yeah… but you could basically find any correlation between death and any given factor.
There is one animal that many Latinos fear even more than a wild lion: mariposas negras. If you bump into one of these huge butterflies you are coming into direct contact with death, and someone close will pass on to another life. In Japan, this species is believed to bring good luck and in the Bahamas it announces money will come your way.
But can it be real? Well, scientists are discovering new species all the time, so this could actually be one of those.
This myth originates in Chile. Basically, it is a giant snake that lives in a cave and comes out at night, eating just anything on its path. To make matters even creepier, this supersnake is supposed to be covered by hair. Ay, no mames!