Sunday, March 14, 2021

Strange Stories, Legends & Folklore of Peru

Several strange stories, legends & folklore from the indigenous people of Peru, including duende, a woman in white, a bird-footed red haired seductress and a cave with gold corn. 

These accounts were forwarded to me:

"My father's family is from La Libertad region in northern Peru. We have a house in a town and one in a beach nearby. I heard these stories when visiting the town as I was growing up.

This happened to my father when he was 7 or 8 years old in the 70's. He had climbed a tall Pacay tree on a grove near to the town, and was sitting on a big branch eating the fruit. It was in the afternoon and there was a lot of wind, the branches and leaves moved and it was relaxing. Suddenly, he felt something was looking at him. He focused, and he saw two eyes looking at him from a branch on another tree. He first only saw the eyes. He says they were bigger than a person's and kind of hypnotic and intelligent. He then saw the rest of what looked like a monkey or a small person and was terrified for some reason. He immediately jumped off and started running to the town in fright. When he told his grandfather what he had seen, he told him it was a "duende" (like a goblin) and that they take away little children, specially those that have not been baptized. His grandfather was a farmer and saw many strange things on the fields outside of town.

This next story happened in the 30's, the generation of my father's grandfather. A group of 4 men had gone on horse to the "monte" (like wild forest in this dry area) and were returning to town at the end of daylight. The paths were such that they had to go one behind the other. Suddenly, they realized that the last man was missing. They backtracked, and first found his horse without the rider, and then him, on the ground, passed out. They took him to town and he was babbling and crying but not coming into himself. A priest and a "curandero" (like a witch doctor) had to take care of him. When he finally returned to his senses, he said had seen a "bulto" in the road. "Bulto" would translate to "blob", it is just a mass occupying space. That it was darker than the surroundings and bigger than a person, and that his horse had refused to go near it. Then he remembered nothing else.

This happened to me during the first time I travelled alone to my family’s town. My grandmother had died of cancer two years ago, and before her final stay on the hospital, she had lived in this house for months. No one had visited the house since her death, and everything was as she had left it. Her clothes were on the closet and folded in a chair; plates and cutlery on the dish rack. All with dust on top of it. In the main part of the house there are two bedrooms facing each other. One was hers, the other was for visitors. I stayed on the visitors’ room. The night I arrived, I was laying on the bed with the door to my back (or, better said, to the top of my head), reading a book. Suddenly, I heard a breathing. It was deep and slow breathing, as if someone was sleeping, coming from my grandmother’s bedroom. I remember being startled, and afraid to turn my head and watch the other room through the door. It continued for some 10 minutes, and then it vanished. I just laid there. I wasn’t terrified, as I have been of other experiences. Somehow, I am sure it was my grandmother’s breathing.

This story was told to my father when he was a boy, by his grandfather who was a farmer. His farm was a two hour walk away from town. For a season, his grandfather had to leave town around 2 AM so as to arrive and get everything ready for his turn of the water supply (communal use of water is common in Peru). My father was sent to fetch him lunch, sometimes on horse, sometimes walking. One of these times, he found his usually jolly grandfather in a worried mood. He told him that during the previous night, as he walked to his piece of land under a dim moonlight, he had seen a woman all dressed in white standing in the middle of a rice field. For some reason, he knew that it was not a woman but something else, and he had run the remaining of the way to his land, and shut himself in his cabin for the rest of the night, missing his water turn. His grandfather told him that when walking to the farms he usually heard whistles calling him, or distant voices, but he knew to ignore them. He had never been terrified as when he saw that woman in the fields.

This story comes from north Peru, but in the mountains, which we call sierra, where people are very different from people on the coast. Some years ago, I travelled the country working on organic farms in exchange of a lodging and food. This was told to me near the town of Corongo by a farmer I met when making the three hour walk from farm to town. Among many things, I told him I use to bathe myself in the hot water pool that springs from a mountain side in the area, and that I found it curious that I rarely met anyone there. He asked me what time did I took my baths, and looked worried when I told him that around 3 PM. He told me to be careful, because there were stories that sometimes, when a man is taking a bath there, the mountain side would open revealing a cave, and that a beautiful woman would come out. The woman has green eyes and red hair and she seduces the men and lures them into the cave. The cave then closes itself. He added that the men that had returned and told the story had realized that she was not a woman because they had looked to the bottom of the pool and saw that she had no human feet, but the feet of a bird. These stories usually happened when the sun was setting down.

When I went back to my farm, I told the story to the owner who was a Jewish man. He was amazed, because in one of their religious texts, Lilith, the first wife of Adam, is depicted as woman of fiery hair and bird feet. This region is so far away and the farmers are very little read that he found the coincidence striking. This man was very spiritual and a student of esoteric things, and he used to tell me many strange stories that had happened to him.

Finally, this story was told to an uncle of mine. It is about a man walking back from the beach to the town, at the end of daylight. The beach is separated from the town by a desert area, with dunes and short mountains (500 meters? 15 minute climb). The man was passing one of the mountains when he saw light coming from it. He got closer to the mountain and out of the road, and saw that the side of the mountain was open, as if there was a big doorway, and inside the mountain it was full day (that was the light he saw) and there were fields of corn. But the corn was made of gold. He got closer to the doorway, and there appeared a hooded man. The hooded man invited him in, and to take some gold corn. But the man got a bad feeling and went away. There are more strange stories about the mountains in that road from beach to town." B

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