The Dominican Republic’s Four Scariest Monsters
It’s Halloween! And there’s no better way to connect to a place than to delve into some of its creepier folklore. What a place fears (or has feared) says much about its culture and the habits and worries of the people who grow up in it. Often, the more cultural similarities between places, the more commonalities you’ll see in its monsters and horror stories.
As such, Latin America shares many folkloric monsters… but not all. Every country (even ones as close as Haiti and the Dominican Republic) will have their own unique beasts or takes on beasts (wait ’til you see what makes Dominican Bruja so special).
So, we’ve thrown together a list of some of the country’s creepy stories. Have fun with it!
Easily the most well-known Dominican Beast, physical descriptions of La Ciguapa bring to mind the girl from The Ring. Only much, much creepier. It’s described as a sort of wild woman with long, glossy dark hair that drapes over its otherwise naked, dark-blue body. They’re magical; some see them as beautiful, others horrendous. The only noise they make is a disturbing, high-pitched whine.
Oh, and their feet are warped to face backwards, making them impossible to track.
They live in the deep forests of the island, where they act like mermaids—they lure men into the forest and kill them. In fact, reports of sightings are still common.
The origin of La Ciguapa is uncertain—some claim they go back to the Taino Indians, other say it was imported by African slaves, and others insist that they’re a result of Christian influence.
Here’s a freaky one.
El Baca comes in many forms, but the idea is the same; these creatures are the result of someone making a pact with the devil, and exist to ensure that the individual goes through with their sacrifice. Generally, they’re conjured when someone wants material gain, and will demand anything from animal sacrifices to human souls in exchange. Renege on the deal, and it plagues your family with disease, bad luck, and death.
Physically, it takes the form of a black animal (usually dogs or livestock) with red eyes.
Here’s the rough part—they can be inherited. If you die (often through suicide, due to its influence), El Baca is passed on to your next of kin, or whomever inherits (or purchases) your land. There are no tales about how to get rid of them. It’s assumed that, when someone suddenly becomes prosperous, they probably summoned one.
This is the guy you’ll find in a monster flick.
Galipote is the name of a variety of shape-shifting people capable of turning into animals and inanimate objects. Some are born that way, but most chose to become that way through spellcraft or pacts with the devil, indicating that this myth is probably Christian in origin. They roam back-roads and forests at night.
Their danger varies. In some stories, they only scare night-walkers or get travelers lost. In others, they’re extremely violent and malicious—too much so to go into detail, here.
But what makes them really dangerous is the fact that they’re nearly invincible. Knives, guns, bullets… nothing hurts them. The only way to kill them is to hone a stake from a specific tree on Good Friday.
Good luck with that.
Put simply, a Bruja is a witch. Yeah, we know—that’s not the most exotic monster, is it? Well, there are some differences between normal witches and the Dominican Variety.
For starters, Bruja’s spellcraft (called Brujeria) comes from a wide background—European, African, and Taino magic is incorporated into their spells, making them more powerful than European witches. They do fly on broomsticks… but they also eat children (or suck their blood) and curse whole families. There are much darker stories surrounding this, but we won’t go into it, here.
Thing is, Brujas aren’t all evil. Some (for a fee), stick to love potions and reading futures in coffee cups.
The most interesting thing about Brujas, though? People still believe in them. Reports of sightings and full-on news stories about Bruja aren’t uncommon in the Dominican Republic.
These creatures say a lot about Dominican Culture. Obviously, there’s still a respect and belief in folkloric magic that’s faded away in much of the world. Ciguapa shows a fear of infidelity and female power, El Baca showcases a belief in hereditary evil, and Galipote is evidence of a healthy respect for the dangers and mystery of the night.
What’s not to love about these stories?
Written by Connor Johnson
Connor Johnson is a flexible content and copy writer located in the Boston area. He supplements his writing with in-depth research and general marketing skills. He can be contacted here.