If you go to the Dominican Republic, remember one thing: Don’t look a Ciguapa in the eye. But what are las Ciguapas, and why should you look away if you see one?
Like most countries, the Dominican Republic has its share of legendary creatures. The Ciguapa is one to the best known – and most deadly. And like many Latin American myths and legends, it relates to a beautiful woman.
Why Are La Ciguapas Dangerous?
The Ciguapa can look ugly to some people but beautiful to others, and like many mythical female creatures in Spanish speaking countries, they can bewitch men.
These wild creatures are nocturnal, and legends has it that they enjoy seducing men, luring them into the forest, only to kill them after having sex with them.
At nighttime, the Ciguapas leave their forest homes to look for food such as fruit, fish, and birds. Not only dangerous and seductive, these creatures are also mischievous. When women are not in their kitchens, the Ciguapas will come and steal from them.
What Do Ciguapas Look Like?
While the exact description of a Ciguapa varies, they are always female with long, beautiful, dark hair. Their hair is so long, in fact, that it is the only covering for their otherwise naked bodies.
These creatures also have feet that face backward, which makes them particularly hard to catch, as their tracks are hard to follow since it’s impossible to tell which way they are going. The Ciguapas generally have dark skin, either brown or blue.
While descriptions of their bodies differ depending on the region of the Dominican Republic – some say short and out of proportion, others say long-legged and thin – all agree that they have beautiful faces. However, no one has heard a Ciguapa speak; instead, they make a high-pitched squeaking noise, like a whine.
Capturing a Ciguapa
As dangerous as the Ciguapas are, there are still those that try to capture them.
Legend has it that they live in mountainous areas and can only be tracked at nighttime. It should be a full moon, and those trying to catch a Ciguapa should take a cinqueño dog, that is, a dog with extra toes.
But if you catch one, it won’t be for long. Supposedly, it is so difficult for them to be in captivity that they die from sorrow.
Origin of the Legend
The first written reference to the Ciguapa legend was in 1866, by the Dominican writer Javier Angulo Guridi.
Angulo Guridi didn’t invent the legend – some researchers believe that it started in the colonial era, while others even think that it goes back to pre-Hispanic times. Possible origins include the Taino people and, more recently, African slaves held during colonization.
Wat are las Ciguapas? Another legend from Latin America, a mythical figure or a real danger? I have not seen one yet, and honestly I would not like to encounter one.
So why shouldn’t you look a Ciguapa in the eye? That’s how they bewitch you – forever!