Tag Archives: children

El Galipote

El Galipote and El Lugaru (El Zangano)

El Gualipote is a dog-like creature and El Lugaru or El Zangano are flying creatures. The legend says that they are men who can change into animals and then back to human form at will.

Interpretation of El Lugaru / El Galipote by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu
Interpretation of El Lugaru / El Galipote by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu

El Galipote and El Lugaru, both of these legendary magical creatures can change form. They are men who can become animals and become men again. Galipote can also become inanimate objects, like tree trunks and stones. He can transfer his desires to animals and in this way can make the animal do his wishes.

According to the belief, galipotes are cruel and violent. They are very strong. Bullets do not hurt these creatures. It is said they like to cause havoc by frightening people traveling in the night. They do not permit the person to pass and also can help people to get hopelessly lost.

It is difficult not to find a Galipote when traveling in the country. It is wise, just in case, to carry a protective amulet and to cross yourself often to protect yourself from these beings.

Galipote can become a dog. This dog-galipote is called a Lugaru from the French word that means Man-Wolf. It can also fly like a bird. These high-flying, nocturnal birds are called zangano or zancu. It is said that this legendary being sucks the blood of the children during the nights and will also have sexual activities with infants. It can also become invisible.

The only way to kill one of these beings is to get a branch and make a palo de cruz / wooden cross. This wood can only be cut on Good Friday. Some say you must use a knife or machete that has been blessed with water and salt.

There are still Galipotes

There still are Galipotes (also spelled Gualipotes) in existence according to some of the residents of San Juan de la Maguana located in the southern part of the country. Families tell stories of how relatives were known Galipotes.

To become a Galipote one must make a pact with the devil himself, selling their soul for the ability to change one’s self into another form. A witch doctor is also able to help transform a human into this evil creature.

There are recent stories coming from the Palma Sola Massacres of 1962 that says the survivors of this massacre were Galipotes. They were able to change themselves into elements of the environment such as rocks, trees, or animals. In this way the soldiers were not able to see them to eradicate them and thus came about their survival.

Parents to this day scare their children with tales of these people that can change their shape at will. “If you be bad and don’t listen a Galipote will get you!”

So, when you are roaming in the campo at night, be sure to carry your wooden cross with you at all times. Better yet, just don’t be traveling in the campo after dark. You may never find your way home…..

El Cuco

El Cuco / El Coco / El Cucuy

The mythical monster, El Cuco is used to frighten children. The stories of El Cuco are used in hopes of keeping the young ones off the streets late at night or to make them go to sleep.

Interpretation of El Cuco by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu with a little political humor to lighten the mood of this faceless child snatching creature
Interpretation of El Cuco by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu with a little political humor to lighten the mood of this faceless child snatching creature

El Cuco is a mythical monster whose origins can be traced to Spain.
The legend of El Cuco is used throughout Spain and Latin America as a tool to frighten children to keep them off the streets late at night and to make them go to sleep. It is very similar to the Boogy Man in USA.

There is no real description of this mythical being. It is as if El Cuco has no form or shape. It is just a being that is more felt than seen. It is said he is able to shape-shift into all sorts of creatures. He can be your favorite animal or a nondescript shadow moving across the floor. El Cuco can become a horrible monster or make himself so small that he can slip through a crack, hide under the bed or in the closet.

El Cuco in Dominican Republic

In Dominican Republic El Cuco roams the streets and alleys looking for kids to take away in his sack. He can take the form of a hobo or homeless man. Parents and grandparents alike tell the children if they do not go to sleep and fast that El Cuco will come and take them. Even worse, if they are out roaming the streets unsupervised, El Cuco will stuff them in his sack and take them away. He is known to eat some children too.

Be careful if you can’t sleep and you see a shadow with eyes glowing passing near your bed. Also, remember to never roam the empty streets alone. If you see a faceless man with a big sack it could be El Cuco….

*A few artists have used the name. Cuco Valoy, a Dominican salsa and merengue singer makes many references to El Cuco. Tonio Rosario has an album named “La Magia de El Cuco”. There is a trip music festival in Puerto Rico that uses the name of this nocturnal faceless creature.