I am from the mountains of the Andes in the region of Antioquia. Growing up visiting coffee plantations and listening to “Mitos y Legendas” or myths and legends under the light of the moon was the custom. Well known stories like the legend of La Patasola, La Llorona, El Silbón, El Cuco, etc., abound as they are part of Hispanic culture. We used to gather late at night, my cousins and I, to tell stories and scare each other, and we all loved it.
If you ever visit the famous coffee-producing region of Antioquia, Colombia, take care not to wander beyond the boundaries of the towns or coffee plantations you visit, especially at night. According to La Patasola legend, you just might encounter a supernatural creature that will drink your blood for daring to disturb the peace of the jungle.
Origin of The Legend of La Patasola
Everyone agrees La Patasola used to be a human woman. But beyond that, different versions of La Patasola legend disagree on why this woman must now take such a monstrous form.
One version of the legend of La Patasola says that she killed her own child to be with a man who later rejected her. Another version paints a picture of a beautiful but cruel and capricious woman who enjoyed tempting men.
Perhaps the most popular version has La Patasola playing the part of an unfaithful wife whose husband murdered her after discovering her infidelity.
All the origin stories agree that La Patasola suffered a horrible mutilation just prior to her death, namely the amputation of one of her legs at the hip. After dying of her wounds, her soul became trapped in a one-legged body, which now wanders the mountainous jungles of Antioquia, looking for victims.
She especially likes to catch and kill hunters, miners, loggers, and other men engaged in work that harms the jungle and its creatures.
According to some versions of the legend she also enjoys stealing children from their beds, taking them deep into the jungle where she can suck their blood with her fangs.
How to Identify La Patasola
La Patasola is a shape-shifting siren that draws men to her with pitiful cries of a woman lost in the jungle. At first she looks like a beautiful woman, but once she feels certain that her victim is well and truly lost in the forest, she transforms into a monster. In this form she has an ugly face with bulging eyes, fat lips, a hooked nose, and catlike fangs, which she sometimes hides behind her wildly tangled hair.
La Patasola has one breast and her thighs are fused into one leg with a hoof rather than a foot at the end of it. Despite this she can move extremely quickly through the jungle.
As she hops along, her hoof leaves bear tracks on the ground, making her virtually impossible to track, even with dogs. When it suits her, she can also transform into a big black dog or a black cow.
The legend of La Patasola says that when La Patasola feels happy, she climbs to the top of a tree or a mountain and sings this song:
Yo soy más que la sirena, en el mundo vivo sola:
y nadie se me resiste, porque soy la Patasola.
En el camino, en la casa, en el monte y en el río,
en el aire y en las nubes, todo lo que existe es mío.
Meaning of La Patasola Legend
Many Latin American legends as well as legends from other cultures feature a siren-like figure who draws men to their doom.
These kinds of folkloric legends seem to exist to help reinforce cultural norms, serving as a warning to men and women alike not to deviate from acceptable sexual behavior.
The legend warns the men not to sneak off into the forest with strange but lovely ladies lest they get eaten, and it warns women not to be unfaithful or wanton lest they get turned into monsters themselves.
La Patasola Today
While the cultural message of the legend of La Patasola legend may not have as much relevance today when all kinds of sexual behaviors seem permissible, it is still a core part of Colombian folklore.
If you want to meet La Patasola without risking your life, you can visit the Path of Myths and Legends at the National Coffee Park in Montenegro, Colombia, or attend the annual Myths and Legends parade in early December in Medellín, Colombia to get in touch with true Latin American legends.