Legends of the Dominican Republic
By Robert Nickel, 2011 [Edited]
Although myths and legends are by definition largely untrue, each one of us has a little inkling in us that suspects there may be some truth to the story. Regardless of your assertion that you do not believe in such things, it is still fun to hear the mythical stories tied to a vacation destination. They give a great insight into the people and culture of the region, as well as offer an explanation on seemingly strange behavior you might encounter. Here are some of the most prevalent legends of the Dominican Republic.
Fireflies are fairly common in the Dominican, but are referred to as the Nimitas. The people believe Nimitas are the souls of the dead watching their loved ones. Their lights are a reminder for everyone that they are there and watching every move you make.
The Chupacabra or Goat Sucker is supposedly an alien brought here by a UFO. Supposedly the creature is about four feet tall and can fly. It has piercing red eyes and long sharp claws. Livestock that has been found dead and with two puncture holes in its neck, is reported to have died from a Goat Sucker attack; the blood and organs apparently drained from the body.
There is a story that takes place during the later period of slavery in the Caribbean and includes the escape of an enslaved African from his white enslaver. The man and a group of AmerIndians ran to the mountains of Bahoruco only to transform into ‘wild things’ or Los Biembiens. They apparently speak only in grunt-like sounds, are unclothed and love to feast on human bodies. Native Dominicans caution against walking the mountains alone, especially after dark. There are no large wild animals in the Dominican Republic, so if you hear growls in the forests or mountains it can only be Los Biembiens – RUN!
In the culture of the Dominican Republic there is the belief that certain men can transform themselves into animals or articles from nature such as tree trunks or stones. El Galipote is the dog-like creature these men can become, and are reported to be violent and cruel. They are not affected by bullets or machete, as they possess powers of healing and super strength. Not just any man can become a Galipote, they must first make a pact with the devil. The only defense against attack by Galipotes is a wooden cross, or simply don’t travel at night.
When the Spanish, Dutch and British enslavers occupied the regions of the Caribbean, they brought with them more than just illness and slavery. They also brought the fear of witches. Dominican witches, or Bruja, evolved into a slightly different creature than the European variety. Bruja are old deformed women who fly on brooms, but often shed their skin and become large birds who squawk phrases like ‘without God nor Santa Maria’ (meaning her victims do not have their protection). They rest under the platano tree, in hope of catching a small child so that they can suck their blood either through the belly button or big toe. The only way to avoid a Bruja is on a sunny day. Cloudy and rainy days are when the witches hide in the shadows waiting for a child to pass.
El Comegente is probably the most scary Dominican legend, because it is probably based on truth. At the end of the 18th century an assassin inhabited the Dominican Republic whose crimes were so horrifying that he was named El Comegente or People Eater. One can only surmise what those blood thirsty act were, but his reputation vaulted the People Eater to instant legend status and supposed supernatural abilities were added to his repertoire. Apparently El Comegente learned witchcraft in Haiti which gave him the ability to cross country instantaneously and disappear from sight once his feet touched a body of water. A farmer was said to have finally caught the People Eater in a witch basket and brought him to the capital where the assassin was executed.
When you visit the Dominican Republic don’t pay attention to the myths and legends held there, after all they are just stories right? Just to be sure though, don’t traipse around the forest at night. Just in case.
Source: http://www.artipot .com/articles/839502/legends-of-the-dominican-republic.htm