“woe on him whom she seduced with her beauty and who having compassion on her weeping near to console her.”
The story is told of a wealthy landowner who went on a business trip which kept him away from his wife for long periods. His wife often became restless and, during one of his absence, had an illicit affair. As a result, she bore a child. Knowing that she would not be able to convince her husband that the baby was his, she went to the river and drowned the child. The legend of LA LLORRONA, whose name is in Spanish for “the weeping woman,” tells that this woman has been cursed by God since then and now sits disconsolately on a rock by a river or creek combing her long, wavy black hair and crying pitifully, hoping to inspire the mercy of those who near her.
Stories of LA LLORONA are popular in Belize, especially in the district of Orange Walk, and also in the neighbouring countries of Mexico and Guatemala. Although LA LLORONA and XTABAI have traditionally become merged into one legend and, as enchantresses, are said to be variation of the same lore, each possesses distinct characteristics and behaviors.
Though seen most often near the water, LA LLORONA can also be found inland, at the roadside or under an almond or a breadfruit tree. On dark, lonely nights, her haunting cries and her appearance of helplessness give her an alluring charm which draws men to her. She also attracts a man’s attention by allowing fire or a glowing light to come from her fingers, and as the man gets nearer, LA LLORONA appears to float in the air, moving farther and farther away as the man follow her. Men who encounter her at midnight near rivers, or at crossroads, may witness her turning into a two-tailed serpent. She then sticks her tails into the victim’s nostrils and squeezes. Travelers or drunks who have lost their way can become her unfortunate victims, and their greatest fear is to be wrapped in her thick, long hair and taken over the water to a region from where no one can return.
Late one evening, Don Jose and his assistant were coming home from a distance village on horseback. They rode along the riverside at a steady pace, until Don Jose, who was at the front, came to a sudden stop. His gaze had fallen on a remarkably beautiful woman who sat at the river’s edge, wailing miserably. He was irresistibly drawn to her and dismounted, instructing his assistant to wait for him. He walked eagerly toward the woman, and as soon as she saw him, she beckoned to him to follow her. She led the way for a while, and Don Jose followed her eagerly. The curious assistant had been following them discreetly and suddenly heard his employer scream, “Cuidado!” The seductress was heading toward a dangerous curve in the river, where the current raged. The assistant watched as his employer approached the woman to try to save her. As he embraced her, she enveloped him in her long hair, and they both disappeared into the water. The assistant returned home in a state of a shock and many days later told how his employer had been carried away by the weeping woman.
Story Courtesy: Characters & Caricatures in Belizean Folklore