The 13th Floor

10 Nightmare-Inducing Legends from Central & South America

As we approach the end of the summer, a few of you may be looking for some last minute travel ideas, perhaps thinking of heading to our South and Central American neighbors. Whether journeying through the beautiful, lush landscapes of the rain forest or catching the last few days of the Rio Olympics, there are a few things you may want to look out for during your trip. Here are ten blood-curdling legends from South and Central America.

Wekufe – Chile

Their name is derived from the Mapuche word for “people who are deceptive”. The Mapuche people had no concept of deception or evil up until the first Catholic missionaries arrived, which is around the same time the wekufe began showing up.  A wekufe is both a physical being and ghostly apparition, able to alternate between both forms. These creatures often take on an animal form, enslaving the souls of the dead. They also take pleasure in spreading diseases and killing people.



Silbon – Venezuela

The ghost of a young man who murdered his father, El Silbon was punished for this crime by being whipped by his grandfather. He was then tossed into a cage with rabid, hungry dogs, GAME OF THRONES style. Now, he wanders the Earth, raged and bloody, forced to carry his dead father’s bones, whistling an eerie tune as he walks.



Imbunche – Chile

El Imbunche was a deformed child sold to a group of warlocks. The warlocks went to work transforming the child into a monster. The first thing they did was slice his tongue so it was forked. Then they dislocated its limbs and turned its head backwards. Finally, they cut open his right shoulder, placed its right foot into the wound, and then sewed it shut. Once his transformation was complete, he was given the job of guarding the entrance to the warlock’s cave. He was also tasked with carrying out revenge against anyone who crossed the warlocks.



Cadejo – Guatemala

These ferocious black dogs with fiery red eyes stalk the streets of Guatemala hunting young maidens. But don’t worry too much- if you’re good and virtuous a white dog will rush in to protect. But if you’re a bad person… well, you’re about to find out what a chew toy feels like.



Tunda – Columbia

During the 16th century, 23 slaves escaped their captors and began fighting their way across South America searching for freedom. It is said that they fought so fiercely that the Devil was awoken by the screams of their victims. Not much of a morning person, the Devil slaughtered the slaves, but also fell in love with one of the women. The two had several children together. For sharing her bed with the Devil, she was rewarded by being transformed into a shapeshifter who could turn herself into any child’s mother. She would use this power to lure children into the forest where she would feast on them.


El Familiar – Argentina

El Familiar is the Devil in snake form. As the legend goes, he was summoned by a mill owner. In exchange for the continual success of the mill, El Familiar is allowed to eat one mill employee each year. Talk about some crap job security.



Carreta Nagua – Nicaragua

In Nicaragua, death is a white skeleton sitting atop a large cart pulled by two skeletonized steers, dragging behind the bones of slaves. They say you’ll know when death is coming for you when you hear the sound of chains rattling down the street.



Ciguapa – Dominican Republic

A magical witch, La Ciguapa is a long-haired naked woman who walks with her feet facing backwards. She lures men into the woods with promises of sex, but in actuality just ends up ripping them to shreds.



El Coco – Chile

Walking the streets at night while carrying a bag over his shoulder, El Coco searches for mischievous children. He tosses the children in his bag so that he can take them back to his home where he slices them open and drinks their blood.



La Llorona – unknown

Maria fell in love with a Spanish gentlemen and bore him three children. But then this gentlemen returned to Spain and married another woman. Distraught, Maria threw herself and her three kids into a river where they all drowned. Maria was cursed for her crime by being transformed into La Llorona, a ghostly apportion trapped between Earth and the spirit world. Continually weeping for her dead children, La Llorona deals with her grief by kidnapping children who resemble her own.




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