Tag Archives: Nicaragua

El Cipitio

The informant M told me of another story that was incredibly prevalent in her native country of Nicaragua, the legend of El Cipitio. El Cipitio is the Mesoamerican version of the Irish leprechaun; he will try to trick young girls into going back to his cave with him by acting silly. El Cipitio is a bastard born out of wedlock, his mother was the wife of a prominent chief. She was cursed by a shaman to forever be seen by unfaithful men and when alone with the man, she will turn into an ugly figure.

El Cipitio looks like this short peasant wearing all white clothing and a huge hat. In some versions his feet are backwards, leaving many confused when they follow his footsteps because he is going in the opposite direction. Kind of like how his mom opposed the tradition of marriage by pursuing an affair. This legend clearly shows what is right and what is wrong in Nicaraguan society: the bond of marriage is one of the most sacred things one can have, and infidelity can ruin the generations that follow. For el Cipitio, he had been cursed due to his mother’s actions. He did not choose to be El Cipitio, he just is.

When I asked M about what she got from the legend, she remembered kids blaming El Cipitio for pranks that other children did. So she would try not to behave so out of line that she may be mislead either by the other children or by El Cipitio. Personally, I enjoy story of trickster figures in legends because they are there for a specific reason: to parody and mock a certain behavior that is consistent within a society. And also the idea that the rationale for the trickster’s actions is merely based on pranks and comedy is just funny and unique to me.

La Carreta Nagua

My informant M’s scariest legend was the one of La Carreta Nagua. Legend has it that in the middle of the night while everyone was asleep a cart would slowly roll through the village streets. It was being pulled by two skeletal horses and commandeered by the Grim Reaper himself. If anyone was awake or in the streets by the time the cart rolled through, they would be claimed by the Grim Reaper and taken to the Underworld.

This legend is based on the slavery and colonization of Native American tribes. In many pueblos, Native Americans who heard the carts of colonizers looking for slaves would know to run or hide. If they were to be captured, they most likely would have been taken to the mines; after years of enslaving Native Americans it was eventually deemed not worth it because Native Americans would commit suicide instead of live through the terrible means they were placed in.

When asking what M thought of the story, she said that as a child she was terrified to be up too late because she didn’t want to be taken by La Carreta Nagua. She would have consistent nightmares about being abducted too. I enjoy this legend because it is based in real events that occurred for centuries and was an actual threat to their very existence. Thus it’s a very good example of folklore saving people’s lives.


I found an article that details the multiple variations of the legend here: https://leyendas-nicaraguenses.blogspot.com/2007/03/la-carreta-nagua.html

Witches in Nicaragua

Original Script: “So…basically…my mom told me that, I don’t know…that maybe back in the 1970s or 80s there was a huge earthquake in Nicaragua that like killed a ton of people because a volcano exploded. And like it had huge sinkholes…like a bunch of sinkholes in the country. So people would fall into the sinkholes and they were never found. So basically, my mom said that a bunch of witches were the cause of the Earthquake because it happened a day or two after Halloween…So my mom and a lot of people in the country think it was because of witches that came around the world and I guess like, Nicaragua is one of the most international spots for witches…like Santeria and Voodoo, and like all the dark magic kind of thing and they came around the world and all the negative energy that came with them from being there caused the earthquake. So they think that is the reason why a lot of people died. I mean witch thought it very common in Nicaragua….Like there is a story about the president’s wife, Rosario Murillo, because they think that she is a witch.

So the president has been the president for maybe like four terms, like he did two terms before, than there were other presidents, then he became the president again. I mean he changed the constitution of Nicaragua was to say that you can have unlimited terms so basically like a dictatorship…like a communist country. They say that the reason how is life is because of his wife. Because his wife has a really strong influence over him, like, she is a super intelligent woman, like she studied in Switzerland at this boarding school…and she speaks like twelve languages. And she knows a lot of people in the world, like diplomats, really powerful people. They think she is a witch, because the way the country is set up. For example, there is a Christmas tree in the middle of the capital that is there all year round and it is always lit up, and its like, its really weird. When I went there I was like what the hell. Why is there a Christmas tree in the middle of summer? And it’s even more insane during Christmas time…like everyone think she is really weird and brainwashes her husband. Like during, presidential meetings that are broadcasted she is always speaking, or speaking over him, or even cutting him off, and it is just weird because even though he is the president. In Latin America, even though woman are equal they still have that role of being submissive, so the fact that she is controlling the president that is kind of a big deal. And everyone think that she is crazy and that she casted a spell on her husband to make him do whatever she wants, so she is really the one controlling the country. And, like whenever something goes wrong she is the one that gives the public speech. I don’t know…she even dresses really weird. She looks like a witch with her dress and long skirts mismatched, and her creepy hands…and her facial structure, hollow bone cheeks, big nose, her eyes even look scary, her evil face! Like she’s a witch! Everyone is afraid of her because they think she is going to cast a spell on them!”

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: Kamilah and her mother have always been spiritual people. The belief in witches, demons, and angels is strong to Kamilah’s mother however, it is even more so in her home country—Nicaragua. While Kamilah did not particularly believe in witches as her roots from Nicaragua do, the case with Rosario Murillo, really made Kamilah a strong believer in them.

Context of the Performance: Talking about the Dictator’s wife and strange occurrences; speeches, Rosario Murillo, makes in accordance to presidency issues.

Thoughts about the piece: Interviewing Kamilah Lopez was one of my favorite interviews thus far. I had never met someone with such an interesting story about witches and them causing natural occurrences, which was very thought provoking to me. This legend is incredibly remarkable especially because it is one of the legends that made Kamilah believe in witches.

To begin with, the witches’ causing an Earthquake was a collisions of two oppositions: witches and a natural disaster (Earthquake), which fits the category of a legend perfectly: it is something that can happen in the real world (Nicaragua). Kamilah had mentioned that Nicaragua was still in an old-world type mind-set. Which is fascinating considering that the people of Nicaragua, including Kamilah’s mother, believe that the witches caused an Earthquake that killed hundreds of people. It is noteworthy, that the people of Nicaragua have an old-mind set, because it was a mind-set that came before “science” was established, thus, a natural disaster, which ended up killing hundreds of people, could be contributed to “witchcraft.” However, I wonder what could be said about the Earthquake if it had not killed as many people, but still followed days after Halloween.

Furthermore, it is also important to note that Voodoo and Santeria—which Kamilah had mentioned that the negative energy from the meeting of witches caused on Halloween the Earthquake—are, indeed, attributed to negative attributes, which these qualities mostly revolve around death. As noted by Kamilah and her mother, Nicaragua is a center ground for such witchcraft practices, thus, the people of Nicaragua attributing the deaths from the earthquake to Voodoo and Santeria is correlated with the background of the two practices and the mind-set of the people makes perfect sense. Additionally, Santeria is associated with paganism, which correlates with the Christmas tree mentioned by Kamilah that Rosario Murillo keeps all year long. Hence, the people of Nicaragua believing that Murillo is a witch, creates an eerie parallel between Murillo and Santeria. For more information on Voodoo and Santeria please see Voodoo and Afro-Caribbean Paganism by Lilith Dorsey.1

Moreover, the people of Nicaragua creating a comparison to the devastating Earthquake and Murillo being a witch is not only eerie but thought provoking. It brings into the common question of the personification of witches being attributed to the masses fearing a person—particularly a woman. Because Murillo has such influence in not only Nicaragua and over her husband, but the world because of her connections, people fear her and her capabilities. Especially because of the established quasi dictatorship in Nicaragua, people start to question what she can really do and the negative affects she can bring—for a prime example the earthquake that killed hundreds of people. Additionally, there is also the stereotype of having physical characteristics that makes one look like a witch. As Kamilah had mentioned: “and her facial structure, hollow bone cheeks, big nose, her eyes even look scary, her evil face! Like she’s a witch,” thus, the stereotypical dress and physical appearance of a witch becomes prominent in the people’s belief of why Murillo is a witch. For more information on Rosario Murillo, please see Dictator’s Handbook by Randall Wood and Carmine DeLuca.2

In conclusion, it is not so hard to see why the people of Nicaragua believe in witchcraft and why Murillo could be a possible witch. Because of the association with Santeria and Voodoo, the negative affects the country has been experiencing can all be contributed to their belief in witchcraft along with the fear of Murillo.

1 Dorsey, Lilith. Voodoo and Afro-Caribbean Paganism. New York: Citadel, 2005. Print.

2 Wood, Randall, and Carmine DeLuca. The Dictator’s Handbook. Place of Publication Not Identified: Gull Pond, 2012. Print.