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8 Creepy Puerto Rican Urban Legends

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

It’s time to get spooky, Puerto Rican style! Our Island’s lore features some chilling stories that have been passed down from generations, and whether you are a mystery enthusiast or not, these stories have become embedded in our culture, and they can surely leave you with a sense of uneasiness. Are they real? Who knows?! But here are eight creepy Puerto Rican urban legends that will definitely keep you up at night. 

  1. La Llorona of Coamo

This legend takes place at Puente Las Calabazas, in Coamo. Drivers who pass through the bridge should be very wary; be that a public transit driver or a commoner passing through. Folks say that in the middle of the bridge, blocking the road, a woman appears asking them to take her somewhere. If the driver allows her to come inside the vehicle, the face of the beautiful woman turns into a horrible creature and begins to cry uncontrollably as they drive away. The shrieking of her cry is so loud that it causes drivers to lose control and crash against their surroundings. People say that this woman is none other than La Llorona, a woman who is in desperate search of her lost baby. 

There’s also a similar retelling of this legend in Aibonito, at Puente de la Llorosa. The only difference is that, instead of the woman asking you to give her a ride, she hops unexpectedly in the backseat of the car. Finally, the driver suddenly notices her by catching a glimpse of her through the rear-view mirror…

  1. The Jacho Centeno 

This is a classic legend that has been passed down through many generations. The story starts with a wandering farmer who lived near Orocovis during the first half of the twentieth century. The man stayed up till late fishing and, on his way back home, he lit up a “jacho” to illuminate the way. Unfortunately, the “jacho” burned out before the man could get home. He searched his belongings and found among them a wooden crucifix. In desperate need of light, he lit up the crucifix and used it as a lantern. Some days later, the man contracted a grave illness and died. 

It is said that the man’s spirit was condemned to stay on Earth until he finds all the ashes of the sacred crucifix. Today, people say that when you see a mysterious light floating about around Orocovis, it is the man with the “jacho” in search of the remains. Also, parents use the legend as a cautionary tale to scare their kids into getting home early; because, otherwise, el Jacho will get you! 

  1. La Garita del Diablo (The Devil’s Watchtower) 

This legend is also amongst the Island’s classics, and it goes way back when the Spaniards were colonizing Puerto Rico. Centuries ago, the citizens of San Juan faced off invader’s attacks. For this reason, the Spanish authorities built up a fortress with various watching towers, better known as “garitas”. The soldiers in charge of keeping watch would call each other from time to time to keep themselves awake and alert. However, there was one “garita” that was isolated from the rest of the others. The soldier who kept watch over this particular “garita” was known by his surname, Sánchez. One night, the soldiers called out to Sánchez and waited for his typical reply, but no feedback was heard. When the first sun rays of the next day illuminated the solitary “garita”, the soldiers went to look for Sánchez at his station. The only things they found there, however, were Sánchez’s uniform in perfect condition and his rifle placed on a corner. As for the soldier himself, he was nowhere to be found… Soon after, the people around town started to spread the rumor that the Devil himself took Sánchez to hell. 

Sometime later, it was rumored that Sánchez was not taken by the Devil; but rather, that he voluntarily deserted his post and his soldier life to run away with a native woman on the island. We still like the horror story version more! 

  1. The Dismembered Bodies of Lajas 

Throughout the years, multiple citizens of Lajas have reported seeing dismembered bodies wandering around the PR-116 road. They say that when the dogs bark in the middle of the night, it’s a warning sign for those who walk around that road. People have reported extensions of torsos without their extremities, bodies cut in half, and legs hopping about at the distance. These dismembered bodies belong to the spirits of those who have died in automobile accidents on that road, which generally have ended up dismembered. 

  1. El Chupacabras 

The literal translation of this monster’s name is “goat sucker”. This mythical creature has terrorized Puerto Ricans for a lo ng time. It is called that way because it is said that the creature sucks out the blood of goats and other smaller animals, leaving in its cadaver two suction holes. There are different ideas surrounding it in regard to its origins and physics. Many people say that the “chupacabras” is an extraterrestrial being that landed in Puerto Rico seventeen years ago. Moreover, the mayor of Canóvanas, José Chemo Soto, even ordered a search for this creature, but there have been no findings up to date. 

  1. The Intercontinental Hotel in Ponce 

This hotel in Ponce is also known as the Haunted Castle (Castillo Embrujado). Those who have visited the abandoned building have reported hearing voices, laughter, cries, and screams, as well as seeing apparitions and objects move without a visible cause. The whole place is charged with a strong unnerving energy. It is said that the presence of the spirits lurking in the hotel is due to the fact that the tragedy of Mameyes of October 7, 1985, transpired just next to the building. This unfortunate event was caused by the tropical storm Isabel, which devastated over four hundred houses along with the inhabitants that lived in it. 

  1. La Gárgola 

The legend of the gargoyle is a creature that terrorizes citizens who live near the Central Azucarera in Guánica. Similar to the chupacabras, la gárgola has attacked animals, but it has also confronted people who have encountered it. This creature can only be seen at night; and, when it does, it allegedly releases a strong smell of sulfur. 

  1. Extraterrestrials at El Yunque 

So, this one is not particularly a story-based legend, but it is a myth worth mentioning. Since El Yunque is a huge place to wander through, there have been many visitors who have disappeared in the foliage without leaving a trace. It is commented that there is a possibility of the existence of beings from other worlds who take the lost wanderers with them, a topic that has been discussed among the Department of Defense of the United Statesーan institution that has also ordered further investigations of reported UFO cases in El Yunque. 

Scared enough? Though some of these urban legends may or may not be real, the thrill of some good mystery stories that have been passed down through generations is still culturally enriching, making these anecdotes a must tell for this spooky season. 

Claudia Colon is majoring in English Literature in the University of Puerto Rico (Rio Piedras Campus). She is the Vice President of HC at UPR and an Editorial Assistant for Sargasso Journal. She is an aspiring writer and editor who spends her free time reading, writing fiction, dancing, watching anime and playing Animal Crossing! Her article content centers in mental health awareness and relationships.
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