South America is the fourth largest continent in size and the fifth largest in population. And, with its ethnic diversity, it’s no surprise it has a whole hatful of terrifying folklore tales. Incan mythology, Spanish and Portugese folklore and religion, hundreds of indigenous tribes with their own beliefs – it’s monster central here! The Spinechilling Seven…
Encantados, or Botos, from Brazil, are shape-shifting weredolphins. They enjoy flirting and sex, music and dancing, and change into humans at night to party. In human form, Encantados are very pale and always wear a hat to hide their blowhole. They can stun people with bursts of sound from their echolocation or hypnotise them. If an Encantado falls in love with a human, it will kidnap them to take to the land of Encante, and they’re also said to take the unwary who wander too close to the river. There are stories of boaters who’ve gone insane after an encounter with an Encantado, though they don’t usually cause any harm – but some believe they may inflict illness, madness, and even death.
Jasy Jatere from Paraguay is a figure in the folklore of the Guarani people. He is one of seven cursed offspring of evil spirits. He preys on human children, taking entranced tots to his cave, where he puts out their eyes and imprisons them, feeding them wild fruits until they become feral. Jasy Jatere, which means literally ‘a little piece of the moon’, is unique among his brothers in that he doesn’t look monstrous. He’s described as being a small man or child, with fair hair and blue eyes, beautiful and enchanting and carrying a magic wand. Some tales say that Jasy Jatere takes the children to his cannibalistic brother who feeds on their flesh.
Guatemala’s El Sombreron likes to plait the manes and tails of horses or dogs – and young women with long hair. If this short, goblin-like creature, aka Tzipitio, Tzizimite, likes a senorita, he’ll play his silver guitar outside her house to lure her to his lair. Once she’s followed him, he’ll feed her earth so she can’t fall asleep. According to legend, when one woman was being serenaded by El Sombreron, her worried parents cut her hair and had it blessed – and the goblin took the hint and hopped it.
Bolivia’s Acalia are said to be fair-tempered creatures that control the weather and are sometimes called weather fairies. These shy creatures – which look like tiny, wizened men – live in underground caves and avoid humans. The Acalica are similar to Madremonte, the Mother of the Forest, of Colombia. These creatures protect nature and animals – but are ferocious and unforgiving if humans enter their domains to alter or destroy them.
La Llorona, from Mexico is similar to La Novia de Tola from Nicaragua and La Sayona from Venezuela. Though there are variations in La Llorona’s origins, she is always a woman scorned. La Llorona kills herself and her children when her husband leaves her for another woman. After this, she is unable to go to the afterlife until she finds her children, and her wandering ghost can be found crying, as she roams in search of them. This scary entity is said to haunt cheating men and her appearance forewarns of death.
El Chupacabra – literally ‘goat sucker’ – comes from Puerto Rico. The first reports of Chupacabra attacks seem to begin in the Sixties, with eight sheep killed and drained of blood. Many locals suspected a Satanic cult and, soon, 150 similar killings had taken place. By the end of the year, the mysterious beast was said to have been behind over 1,000 attacks. Descriptions of the creature vary – that it’s winged, that it has hairy arms and red eyes, or that it’s grey and alien-like, between 3 and 4ft tall and walks upright on muscular hind legs. From 1996, there were reports of attacks as far afield as Miami, the Southwest US and Mexico. And still, reports of bloodless, murdered livestock persist. To date, no satisfactory predator has been caught.
The Boraro or Pale One comes from the myths of the Tucano people of Colombia and Brazil. It has backwards-facing feet, is very tall, pale skinned and covered in black fur, with large forward-facing ears, fangs and huge dangling genitals. It has no knee joints, so if it falls over it has trouble getting up again. It kills its victims using its lethal, poisonous urine or crushes them without breaking skin or bones, until their flesh is pulp. Then it drinks the pulp through a small hole made in the victim’s head. Finally, the Boraro inflates the victim’s empty skin like a balloon and sends them home in a daze, where they subsequently die. Those hoping to escape the Boraro must either put their hands in its footprints, which will cause its legs to stiffen and temporarily fell the monster, or run backwards while facing it.