Growing up in Panama, with ancestry hailing from Barbados and Jamaica, tales of scary, creepy creatures that do more than just go bump in the night were passed around all the time. My family experienced many weird, supernatural things first hand, and hearing my grandmother, grandfather and mama recount those tales would make my eyes and mouth water with sheer terror. For that reason, I’ve always been fascinated by tales of the supernatural from back in “the old countries”, and I’ve always been amazed at the fact that not enough movies and or TV shows have been made featuring them. I love vampires, but I’d rather meet a vampire than one of the creatures I’m going to write about. Trust.
Here are the top 5 scariest supernatural creatures from the Caribbean:
It seems that the undead sucking the blood out of the living is universal, as almost every culture has at least one vampire creature that strikes terror into the minds of men. The Caribbean is no different, especially given its history of cultural hybridization. The soucouyant, also known as Ole Higue and loogaroo, is said to be an old, eccentric woman who lives on the fringes of town. Sometimes she practices black magic or voodoo and other dark arts, which leads people to consider her a witch. While she might be creepy during the day, at night the horror begins.
She sheds her human skin, hanging it outside of her home (or putting it in a calabash), and travels through the night looking for prey in form of a fireball. She is able to get to her victims (preferably children) by sneaking through windows, keyholes, any sort of crevice or opening available, and proceeds to feast on the soft, supple flesh of the legs, arms, or even toes. If bitten, her victims will either perish, or they will become soucouyants as well. To protect oneself, people believed sprinkling rice grains (and other such things) would keep her preoccupied well into the dawn, when she would have to flee back to her skin or perish herself. To kill her, brave townspeople would have to find her skin, hide it or sprinkle it with a caustic substance like salt or pepper, which will eventually lead her to burn to death.
4) La Tulivieja
You might know this evil creature as La Llorona, but in Panama she is known as La Tulivieja (Two-Lee-Vyeh-Ha). Even growing up I heard about La Tulivieja, and I’m not afraid to say when I had mini-geek number one, I would get a little antsy when he would cry at night. Don’t judge me.
In life, she was flighty and loved to party, even after having a child. Despite the entreaties of her loved ones to stay home, and their subsequent unwillingness to babysit, she took her baby with her and left it on the banks of a river to party. Unfortunately, tragedy stuck and her baby was lost. God’s punishment to her was for her to live the rest of her days horribly disfigured preying on the unfortunate souls who came to her attention. One of the myths I was told growing up was that she also came in the night to take crying babies. *shudder*
We really can’t talk about some of the scariest legends from the Caribbean without talking about the chupacabra. If you grew up in the 90s, this creature, whose name literally means “goat sucker” in Spanish, was a bit of a supernatural celebrity. The legend of this livestock tyrant originated in Puerto Rico, but has since gone international. While scientists have debunked most cases, attributing the attacks to coyotes with mange, it’s still fun to think that the one or two cases that haven’t been solved are the work of the chupacabra.
It’s still real to me, damn it!
2) La Diablesse
Also known as lajablesse or lajables, which means Devil Woman, the tale of this evil and tempting spirit is most popular in Trinidad and Tobago. Apparently she directs her ire at lecherous men who fall prey to her temptations. She covers her face using a wide-brimmed hat to hide her hideousness, and she hides her legs beneath long skirts to keep her cloven foot hidden. If you’re a guy and you think with your “little head”, she will lead you into the woods where you will become disoriented, lost, and eventually die due to a most unfortunate accident.
The legend of the Guyanese massacooramaan is not your average campfire ghost story. This jumbee (Caribbean ghost) is much larger and hairier than a man, but don’t let that fool you. It is swift underwater, pulling boats and their unfortunate inhabitants to the murky depths where they spend their last moments in agonizing terror as it eats them. Well, isn’t that just lovely?
That’s our list of the top five scariest legends from the Caribbean. Share your legends in the comments or on the GeekMundo Facebook page!