The Boogeyman. Bloody Mary. Bigfoot. We grew up terrified of these scary myths and urban legends, never going to bed with the light off and constantly checking to make sure nothing was hiding behind our closet doors. Understandable, especially as little kids. Thing is, mention Bigfoot to someone from Latin America and there’s a good chance they won’t know what you’re talking about. That’s because Latin American countries have their own set of legends that keep kids up at night. Read on for the scariest ones.
1. La Llorona
La Llorona, or the Weeping Woman, is a Mexican folktale of a woman who drowned her children in Lake Texcoco. The story says that in the 1500s, La Llorona, whose actual name was La Malinche, had two sons by Spanish conquistador Cortes. Cortes is seduced by a beautiful woman and informs La Malinche that he’s leaving her and taking their sons. Terrified, she escapes with the babies but is found by Cortes’ soldiers on Lake Texcoco. She stabs the babies, drops them in the lake, and kills herself. They say that her ghost wanders the spirit world in search of her children, and it’s been said that she emerges from Mexican rivers and lakes, screaming and crying, “Ay mis hijos,” meaning, “Oh, my children.” Supposedly, if children go out alone in the dark, La Llorona takes them.
2. El Silbon
This Venezuelan urban legend is about a spoiled little boy who asked his father to hunt him a deer for dinner. When the dad came back empty handed, the little boy killed him. His grandfather punished him by slashing his back, squeezing lemon on it, giving him a sack filled with his father’s remains, kicking him out of the house and unleashing a pack of dogs on him. The legend says the boy whistled a very distinct tune as he was being chased, thus his name, El Silbon, or the Whistler, was born. He now roams the plains, bringing death to everyone he comes across.
3. La Ciguapa
La Ciguapa is a Dominican legend passed down through the Taino indigenous group, about a beautiful woman with long, black hair that wraps around her naked body. She looks like a normal woman, except that her legs are completely backwards. Legend has it, she hides in caves and seduces lost travelers to then eat or kill them. They also say that whoever a Ciguapa falls in love with will die when she dies.
4. La Casa Matusita
Unless you live in Peru, you don’t really have to worry about this one. La Casa Matusita is claimed to be a haunted house in Lima, where, rumor has it, a man murdered his entire family before killing himself. Another story says that dinner party guests were given hallucinogens and then massacred each other. Either way, it’s super creepy, and people swear that the second floor is the most haunted part. Supposedly, a reporter lost his mind in there after venturing to the second floor to prove the rumors wrong.
5. El Cucuy
El Cucuy is the Mexican version of the boogeyman. Kids think he hides under their beds and in their closets, and their parents say that if they don’t behave, El Cucuy will come and kidnap them. The legend says he’s small and hairy, with big red eyes, barracuda teeth, and bat ears. Creeeeeeeepy.
6. El Viejo del Saco
No one knows whether this is true or false, which makes it all the more scary. The story says that in 1910, a man in Spain was diagnosed with tuberculosis. A “healer” named Francisco Leona told him that drinking the warm blood of a child and covering himself with the child’s insides would cure him of the disease, so he set out to find a child. El Viejo del Saco, or the sack man, got his name because of the sack he used to carry the 7-year-old boy he kidnapped back to his house, where he and his accomplices carried out the healer’s instructions. Legend says that the sack man still wanders around, looking for little kids to cure him.
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