"El Sisimito"- San Pedro Folklore

he month of November is now gone and with it the legends of Las Animas or the spirits of the deceased. But these are not all the ghost stories. Still there is the ever-popular El Sisimito, who was very common twenty-five years ago.

El Sisimito was characterized as a very short but very strong man that was hairy and looked like a gorilla. El Sisimito was said to have his feet backwards. In other words, his heels were at the front and the toes at the back. Therefore whenever you saw his footprints, if it looked like they were going north or away from you, indeed he was heading south and towards you. His feet were quite large for his size and his toes were spread out. Neither did he have a knee, so his movements were quite awkward.

El Sisimito
(Illustration from Characters and
Caricatures in Belizean Folklore)
The Sisimito ate fruits and leaves, but his preference was meat. When he feasted on human beings, he tore the body into several small pieces and devoured it hungrily. The Sisimito was not at all friendly with humans so humans were very much afraid of him. There were only two things the Sisimito was afraid of- water and dogs. And there was the trick. Whenever in the bush, 25 years ago, people made sure they were close enough to the river so that if the Sisimito surprised them, they would quickly jump into the water and the Sisimito would not dare get in to catch them. Others made sure they always carried a dog with them into the bush and the dog's barking would scare the Sisimito.

It was said that if a man looked straight into the Sisimito's eyes, he usually died within a month. However, if a woman looked into his eyes her life was prolonged as a result of that. It was believed that there were male and female Sisimitos and Sisimitas. The male Sisimito would kill a male person, but abduct and rape a female person. The opposite was also true of the Sisimita who would kill women and rape men.

Several men and young boys confronted the Sisimito in San Pedro 25 years ago. Don Fidel saw him once and tricked him by running in circles and the Sisimito could not catch him because his feet are backwards and found it awkward running in circles. Young Alberto Cuch also had an encounter with him but because he was coming out of the water naked, the Sisimito started to laugh uncontrollably until he fell unconscious. Others learned to strip naked and dance whenever they met with the Sisimito, and that trick also worked very well. But perhaps the best way to fight the Sisimito is to set his long hair on fire, so children were taught 25 years ago never to go into the bush without some matches that one could use in case there was an encounter with the Sisimito. Hey, one last note. Have you seen some people that really resemble a gorilla or monkey? It is a cross between a human and a Sisimito.

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