I have always been familiar with La Llorona. I vaguely recall my Abuelita telling me a spooky story about the woman who wails for her children, and that no child was safe from her deathly search unless they were well behaved and stayed inside after dark. If you are unfamiliar with the story of La Llorona, check this Here.
Years later, I found myself studying abroad in the quaint village of San Pedro, La Laguna, Guatemala. I was living with a host family, and it just so happened that their oldest daughter was working on an assignment for school on myths and legends. I asked her about it, and sure enough, La Llorona was one of the myths she was writing about. I remember her saying that it was a silly assignment. But when I asked her if she believed in the story of the wailing woman, she shook her head, and smiled, telling me she doesn’t really like to think too much about it. She eventually admitted that it did scare her, but that she doesn’t really believe in such things.
Isn’t it fascinating that I grew up knowing of the same urban legend from my mexican grandmother, as this young girl who has spend her whole life in Guatemala? Mind you, the countries are not far apart, but they are still two separate cultures, with completely different societal development. How did that legend spread so smoothly across Central America and over so many years?
I don’t blame her for being shy on the subject, but I find it interesting how so many people don’t want to openly admit their belief in something strange, or supernatural. But in today’s world, look how lucrative horror films are. Look how much money we throw at run down buildings during halloween to get a real “haunted house” experience. If so many people did not believe in such ideologies, why would they get so frightened? How can you be scared of something that you don’t believe in? Maybe it’s just still taboo to speak of things that are unexplainable. Could it be that we are still fearful of being persecuted for a belief system unlike our neighbors?