Halloween is usually all about costumes, pumpkins, and maybe a few scary movies. But if you are really looking for a scare, Latin American folklore is on a whole other level. There are some truly frightening stories that will give you nightmares if they haven’t already haunted your childhood. However, these tales dont just exist as fantasies, because of how famous they are some people claim they’re real. In 2019, a man in Texas claimed to have seen the Chupacabra, and a year later, residents of a neighborhood in Colombia allegedly heard the chilling cries of la Llorona. Whether you grew up listening to these stories or are at least familiar with the lore, you know they’ve haunted the minds of our community for years. Read on to learn about nine of the most terrifying tales in Latin American folklore.
The Chupacabra is said to attack and drink the blood of livestock, including goats. Though some speculate they’re just mangy coyotes or some other animal, the legend has carried on. It is one of the most well-known and feared mythological creatures throughout Latin America, especially in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Through the years many have alleged to have seen the chupacabra but the legend remains just that though it hasn’t stopped terrifying generations.
La Llorona, also known as “The Weeping Woman,” is famous among many cultures thanks to films that have popularized the story. It is believed that if you disobey your parents, la Llorona is coming for you. According to one legend, it started with a woman named Maria who discovers her husband’s infidelity. In a fit of rage, she drowns her children and immediately regrets it. After realizing she is unable to save them, she drowns herself, and her spirit lives on to kidnap and kill children who wander off into the darkness.
Los Aluxes in Mayan spirituality are believed to be spirits resembling tiny children who live in caves. There is even a dog that follows them, as they are keepers of the forests and protect farmers’ fields from any danger. Many locals believe that Aluxes treat you the same way you treat them. When entering their territory, be nice and offer them food. If you have crops and harvest, you’ll need to build them a tiny house. Some say that their mischievous behavior creeps up on you after seven years, and if you don’t seal the doors of their tiny homes, they will start to turn against you. You may begin to notice your property is missing, or you may begin having nightmares and even sleepwalking.
El Silbón comes to us from Colombia and Venezuela. Also known as “The Man Who Whistles,” he is usually described as a lost soul carrying a bag of bones looking for the next body to collect. The story starts with a young boy, viewed by many as a spoiled brat, who was hungry and demanded his father go hunting for deer meat. When the dad came back empty-handed, he killed him in a fit of rage. In response, his grandfather beat him and fed him to the dogs, cursing him to an eternity of carrying his father’s bones. Now people say that if you hear whistling, your own death is approaching, and the only thing that can save you is the sound of a whip or dogs barking.
The legend of el Mohan is very popular among Colombians. This creature can be two separate entities; it can take the shape of a strong man with golden skin and long hair or that of a tall hairy beast with big hands and feet. This Bigfoot-like creature lives near rivers and has access to large caves and underground tunnels. He uses gold and jewels to attract and lure women into these caves. Those who give in are never found or heard from again.
There’s no way you can miss el Sombrerón. Legend says he’s a short man who wears all-black clothing, boots, a thick belt, and an extremely large hat that covers his face. People in Guatemala say he roams the streets of Antigua with a group of mules and his large guitar. Using his guitar and sweet-sounding voice, his goal is to lure women specifically with long hair. Once he has them in his grasp, he haunts them, preventing them from eating and sleeping while he braids their hair. It’s believed that the only way to get rid of him is to chop off all of your long hair.
El Coco (or El Cucuy, Coca)
El Coco is what parents use to get their kids to finish their dinner, go to sleep, or just behave in general. This small, hairy creature has glowing red eyes, ears like a bat, and razor-sharp teeth. While no one knows exactly who created this urban legend, many point to the Spaniards though variations exist in Mexico (El Cucuy) and Brazil (Coca). All we know is that this hideous Latin American Bogeyman hides in closets and attacks you in your sleep when you least expect it.
Over in the Dominican Republic, La Ciguapa is frequently described as a female creature with long, glossy hair that covers her entire body, brown or dark blue skin, and backward-facing feet. She’s only seen at night, and you’ll never know which direction she’s coming from because of the way her feet are positioned. It’s said she lures men and then while kissing them she sucks the breath out of their bodies.
La Luz Mala
La Luz Mala is a fluorescent beam of light that, according to legend, is a broken soul crying in pain. Popular in Argentina/Uruguya, it’s said that it emanates deadly gases from decomposed bones. It’s believed if you walk toward the light you’ll find human remains.