Tag Archives: Folklore

Abad Alfau and the Skull

Abad Alfau y la Calavera/ Abad Alfau and the Skull

The legend of Abad Alfau y la Calavera starts at the Iglesia y Convento de los Padres Dominicos / Church and Convent of Dominican Fathers. This is where the wall was located that held the skull that changed Abad life forever.

Dominican Myth and Legend Abad Alfau y la calavera interpretation by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu
Interpretation of Abad Alfau y la calavera by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu

There was a wall near the church (torn down in 1905). In this wall there was a little niche. Inside this niche was a human skull. Written below this skull was this saying.

“Oh tú que pasando vas
Fija los ojos en mí
Cual tú te ves yo me ví
cual yo me veo tu te veras”

Roughly translated to mean
“Oh, you who are passing by,
fix your eyes on me,
the way you look I used to look,
the way I look, is the way you will.”

I have no idea why this skull was there or who it belonged to but it was there and it had been for quite some time. This eyeless white skull with its lifeless grin smiled at all who passed. No one paid it much attention until one evening. After the street lamplighters passed, lighting the lamps in the streets, this lifeless skull came to life!

A neighbor was walking by, as he did every night going to his home, when he heard a noise. He turned and there was the skull. IT WAS MOVING! The skull was nodding. Moving its body-less head to and fro. While it was grinning and making diabolical sounds.

As is common here in Dominican Republic, the news passed rapidly between all the neighbors. People would see the skull moving at night. Soon not even the bravest military personal would use that street after dark. All were terrified of this chattering skull.

After too many of the men ran in fear to the Fortaleza speaking of this frightful skull the 19 year old battalion sergeant Alfau Abad had enough. He was so disappointed and fed up with the actions of his military friends that he decided to take matters into his own hands.

The next night he had the men get a ladder and he went to the wall. These cowardly men held their distance while watching their friend in horror. Abad approached the nitch where the skull was moving and chattering. He bravely put the ladder against the wall and ascended. Alfau drew his trusty sword and whapped that nasty thing! The skull broke and fell to the ground. When it hit a group of mice scurried from the shards, running in all directions.

The next day the street sweeper cleaned up the broken skull. No one ever spoke of this skull again. The wall was torn down years later but the embarrassment of the people who ran in fear from a mice filled skull always remained.

Antonio Alfau Abad Baralt was Vice-President of Dominican Republic under President Pedro Santana from 1858-1861. (A little history of the real Alfau Abad).

Lolito Flochón

Lolito Flochón

This middle class plumber and mason Lolito Flochón has had a place in Dominican folklore since the late 1800’s.

The Go Santo Domingo Ciudad Colonial Carnaval mascot statue of Lolito Flochón
The Go Santo Domingo Ciudad Colonial Carnaval mascot statue of Lolito Flochón

The story goes that Lolito Flochón was a middle class laborer who was working of the reconstruction of the main altar of the first Cathedral of the Americas, Metropolitan Basilica Santa Maria la Menor in 1877 under the supervision of Padre Francisco Xavier Billini.

In his reconstruction work he came across what was thought to be the remains of the discoverer of the Americas, Christopher Columbus, in a casket under the altar. This fact was never really confirmed but it really did not matter. The President at that time, General Ulysses Heureaux was so happy about the find he offered to grant Lolito whatever reward he would like for this wonderful discovery. Lolito replied that he wanted to lead the Carnival celebrations.

The wish of the laborer Lolito Flochón was granted. This iconic and unique character was blessed by the City Council to authorize the opening of the carnival. Since then no one could start Carnival partying without Lolito Flochón giving permission and leading the way.

Lolito Flochón
Lolito Flochón

Before this time in history Carnival was divided into two different celebrations, the upper and lower class each had their own separate celebrations. With the reward granted to Lolita, it brought both classes together to make it one grand celebration for all people.

It was said, “Columbus discovered America and Lolito discovered Columbus.”

Lolito, a common man, laborer, mason, of humble social class found his place in Dominican history.

Lotito Flochón at the Carnaval in the Zona Colonial
Lotito Flochón at the Carnaval in the Zona Colonial

So when you see this nostalgic figure, a uniquely dressed silly looking man in big yellow glasses, try to imagine how happy he was dancing and partying in front of the carnival procession. All because he found a casket in the alter.



(Sirenia in Latin means mermaid)

The Sirens have been around since man started exploring the world by sea. Mermaids have enchanted and accompanied many a sailor on their journeys throughout the Caribbean.

Interpretation of Siren or Mermaid by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu
Interpretation of Siren or Mermaid by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu

The Sirens have been around since man started exploring the world by sea. Ancient maps have drawings of sea serpents and mermaids. Cristóbal (Christopher) Columbus men saw Sirens in their many journeys throughout the Caribbean.

In recent times a mermaid is portrayed as being beautiful but in this time they were said to be ugly. Columbus wrote in one of his journals “[A crewman] saw three mermaids, who rose very high from the sea, but they are not so beautiful as they are painted, though to some extent they have a human appearance about the face.”

Sirens are said to lead seamen astray with their singing and womanly shapes. This was done by enchanting the mortal if they stopped to listen to the song. If a man listens to the song of a siren they will never return to their family again.

It has been said that entire ship crews were enchanted. This is why many ships were lost at sea forever. Ships run ashore and sometimes entire crews are said to have been suffocated by these mythical creatures of the sea. Just spotting a siren is very bad luck.


It is thought that these sirens or mermaids were really Manatees. The tails of mermaids in the drawings closely resemble the manatees. Maybe the long hair is attributed to the way manatees rise from the water and have seaweed dangling from their large bodies. They could look like they are trying to embrace a man as they embrace their young in the same way a woman might embrace a man. Yet, for a man to see a woman in a 2000 pound manatee is way out there for sure. Could it be that being at sea too long he wanted a woman so bad that he was hallucinating? Men long ago did like a more voluptuous woman, but for them to think a manatee was a woman is pushing it a bit.

So, if you are a man at sea and yearning for a woman beware when one rises out of the sea and starts singing to you. Don’t fall prey. Get to a doctor and fast to be treated for hallucinations. Because if you succumb you may never return to life as you know it….

Did you know….

*Sirenomelia or mermaid syndrome is a rare birth defect where one is born with their legs joined together.
*It is said the American Indian tribe Penobscot is descended from a mermaid.
*The Selkies of Scottish and Irish legend are more seal and mated with man.