Halloween Inspired: Latin America’s Spookiest Myths
Luz Mala (Argentina & Uruguay):
Luz Mala, one of the most prolific myths in Argentine and Uruguayan history, dates back to the period when indigenous tribes still thrived in these two countries. Literally translated as ‘evil light’ the phenomenon takes the form of will-o’-the-wisp, atmospheric ghost lights which dance vividly on barren landscape. Legend has it that the light is a soul broken out of the celestial sphere, crying in pain.
The light is thought to emanate deadly gases, a product of decomposed bones. According to the gauchos - who traditionally dominate these barren plains – this Luz Mala appears during the driest times of the year.
As with many mythical stories involving a brilliant light, the myth suggests that men have been tempted to venture towards the source of the light, only to find broken pottery remnants containing human remains.
However, it is worth noting that when the bright sparkling light appears at the foot of a hill, it is thought to point to buried treasure which only the bravest can uncover.
Holiday to Argentina & Uruguay if you dare; try to sight the Luz Mala for yourself.
Abigail St Quinton, Press & Marketing Executive.
El Tio (Potosí, Bolivia):
The high-altitude Bolivian city of Potosí (4,090m) is home to a legendary mythical figure who plays an important part in the city’s mining community. The city sits at the foot of the Cerro Ricco (“rich mountain”) so-called because of the abundance of silver within it. At the time of the Spanish Empire Potosi was the world’s biggest supplier of this precious metal and the city itself was greater in size than London. at that time
Silver is still mined to this day and many men, and unfortunately some young children, earn their living by working in the vast network of mines which run deep beneath the mountain. It is a very dangerous undertaking and one of the traditions practised b y the miners to ensure their safety is to worship the mythical figure known as ‘El Tio’ (‘The Uncle’) - the ‘Lord of the Underworld’.
El Tio is a devil-like spirit ruling over the mines, simultaneously offering protection and destruction. There are many models of El Tio, often depicted as a half goat, half man-like figure, positioned throughout the mines. The miners place cigarettes, coca leaves, and alcohol beside these statues as offerings, in the belief that if he is not appeased with such gifts he will unleash destruction within the mountain.
Holiday to Bolivia and northwest Argentina if you dare; venture down a mine and set eyes on El Tio.
Tom Johnson-Sabine, Marketing Manager.
Chupacabra (South America):
Since the first sighting back in 1995 in Puerto Rico, the legend of Chupacabra has grown and become popular throughout the Americas. Legend has it that this unattractive, lizard-like creature attacks and drinks the blood of livestock, in particular goats. For this reason it has earned the name of ‘Chupacabra’ which translates as “goat sucker”.
Although some believe this blood-sucking animal to have been captured, for others the legend of the Chupacabra lives on and continues to scare adults and children alike with bizarre sightings and mysterious livestock deaths.
Holiday across South America on our Hummingbird: Ocean to ocean escorted group tour if you dare; visiting Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru.
Barabara Zanotelli Rodrigues, Marketing Assistant.
El Trauco (Chiloé Island in Chile):
One of the better known myths from the island of Chiloé, El Trauco is a deformed and ugly dwarf with coarse and swollen features who like to chase virgins and seduce them. His feet are mere stumps, his voice only grunts; he lives in the forest and possesses superhuman strength. With his little stone axe he can fell any tree, no matter how large or hard in only three strokes and is usually found seated between the trees weaving his clothes of bark.
Despite his repugnant appearance, he ignites an irresistible attraction in the hearts of young girls and inspires erotic dreams which makes these damsels leave home looking for him in the woods. Once found, the Trauco needs but just one look to seduce and ravish them. If anyone tries to bother him he throws them into the air turning them rigid with deformed hands, arms and legs, killing them with his glance or leaving them to die within the year. It is not uncommon for many an unwanted pregnancy to have been attributed to him...
Holiday to Chiloé Island on our Signature Chile: Atacama Desert to Patagonia Glaciers Private Journey if you dare; but avoid El Trauco!
Mary Anne Nelson, Press & Marketing Executive.
Your edit for Latin American inspiration
Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.View Extraordinary Inspiration
Heloise Buxton - Travel Expert
Heloise started her Latin American journey as an exchange student in Santiago, Chile. With extended summer holidays this was the perfect opportunity to backpack through Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Brazil.
Ben Line - Travel Expert
Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Head of Sales.
Charlotte Daubeney - Travel Expert
Charlotte's fascination with Latin America began with a family holiday to Belize. She went on to study Spanish in school and at university before spending a year living in Santiago, Chile.
Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert
A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.
Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Expert
Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.
Alex Walker - Travel Expert
A globetrotter since her childhood, Alex spent a year studying abroad in Guadalajara and has returned to Latin America countless times since then.