La Llorona

ust when we start the month of Las Animas (the spirits or the souls), a lady living here in San Pedro Town has sighted one of Ambergris Caye's most popular folklore characters- "La Llorona", which translates in English as the weeping woman. But folks are not supposed to see La Llorona these days; she belonged only twenty-five years ago. How did she look? She has been described to friends as a tall, lovely woman with long black hair past her waist. She is so beautiful that she attracts men, and when they follow her, they are never seen again.

How did La Llorona come into being? There are two popular versions in San Pedro. The first says that she was ill treated by her mother-in-law, who did not like her. She eventually drove her out of the house and into the forest leaving her child behind. It was this desperate and ill treated woman who took the form of La Llorona. Another story says that she was married to a rich man who traveled much and one day she became pregnant of a different man. Because she did not want her husband to find out, she drowned her baby in the river. As a result she received a curse, and now sits on a rock near a river crying and begging for compassion.

La Llorona seducing a milpero (Illustration from - Characters & Caricatures in Belizean Folklore)
La Llorona often came to the river, where joyful children went to swim, in her hopes that one day she would find her son. As the years passed by, she became very bitter and she would then lure children to follow her in the dense forest to kill them in revenge because she could not locate her very own child. She particularly liked boys, but there were cases reported when she stole girls as well.

Usually the village knew when La Llorona was around. Her loud wailing could be heard several blocks away, especially on moonlit nights. She would often be seen under huge almond trees or in bushy areas around the village. Once she appeared to you, she would stop crying and become very sweet and gentle, open her arms and welcome you to her. She could take the form of your own mother, our auntie, or wife or a special person to whom you were attracted. Once a child followed her, he would never be seen again. It was believed that she kept them in a cave. Occasionally a lost child would be found abandoned in the bush. Either he escaped or was given his freedom by La Llorona, but the child became dumb for the rest of his life. Other freed children became so sick and would die in a short time.

La Llorona was a tall, slender, beautiful woman. She appeared taller than normal for she floated a foot or two above the ground. Her greatest charm was her waist-long skinny, silky hair. With these features she could attract even men who were wandering drunk at night, or bushmen in the forests. She would seduce man, enchant them, and before they could have sexual intercourse with her, she would strangulate them with her long hair. La Llorona could also transform into a snake and it could wrap around her victim and kill him.

There were two ways to protect oneself from La Llorona. If indoors, one could pray and she would move a way from the area. If caught in some dark street, you could spot a flashlight on her and she would vanish for she did not like light. If it was a clear moonlit night, you could make the sign of the cross repeatedly or form a cross with two pieces of sticks. Being evil, this would normally drive her away.

If in the bush and you hear the wailing of a pitiless woman, or you see this lovely lady near a river, make sure you run away fast for you might have an encounter with La Llorona. If you are a man and this woman attracts you with her crying and open arms, you have two choices-run to her arms or run to the beach or a clearing where she will not follow you or you will have an encounter with La Llorona, an encounter you will never forget and might regret. Now what do you think, folks? When you get lost for 2 or 3 days and you finally get home worn out and penniless, what do you tell your wife? That you had an encounter with La Llorona?

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