Giving up the Ghost: La Llorona in Cabo?

BY ELIZABETH SANDOVAL

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Times of crisis seems to bring the spooks out in Mexico – Chupacabras anyone? – and the Coronavirus is no different.

Enter La Llorona – the Weeping Woman – a ghostly apparition who some swear is haunting the streets of San Jose del Cabo. The banshee-like figure’s last appearance in the state was reported during 2019’s Hurricane Lorena.

“Evidence” of her terrifying presence comes in the form of grainy video footage where one can hear her loud cries, which sound strangely similar to a dog howling.

Sin Censura Noticias, an independent, Facebook-based news site “reported” on April 11 that residents of the 8 de Octubre neighborhood near Telmex heard her crying for her lost children in the early hours of April 11.

According to Sin Censura, residents of the Zacatal neighborhood could also hear her cries, which brought about panic and frenzied prayer.

The post drew some 1,200 comments, many saying they had heard her as well, with others joking that maybe the moaning in the middle of the night was actually the couple next door having a good time.

Another commenter said the mayor should not allow La Llorona to wander the streets when we are supposed to be under quarantine.

There is also wide speculation that somebody is driving around neighborhoods late at night with a loudspeaker strapped to their roof as part of a prank ... as if people need anything else to freak out about.

La Llorona is an important character in Mexican folklore, and although there are many versions of the legend, one of the most oft-repeated goes something like this:

A pretty peasant named Maria marries a rich guy, and they have two children. They are happy together for a time, but the husband has a wandering eye. One day Maria sees him out with another woman and exacts her revenge by drowning the kids in a river. Overcome with grief for what she has done, Maria then kills herself and is cursed to spend eternity looking for the souls of her murdered children.

Some versions say Maria was actually more interested in partying than taking care of her kids, and that one night she returned home drunk and found they had both drowned, so she threw herself into the river.

Many people believe her ghost wanders the street looking for new children to drown. Others think her presence is a harbinger of impending death.

The legend of La Llorona is one of the most pervasive in Latin American culture and has spread into South America and up into the United States. It’s the story your grandmother tells you when you are young in order to get you to do – or not do – something. La Llorona is, quite simply, Mexico’s version of the bogeyman.

So what is she doing walking around San Jose del Cabo during the coronavirus pandemic? And why do her moans for her lost children sound nearly identical to a howling dog? Whether those people who claim to have heard La Llorona’s cries actually did matters little; those who believe in her legend should definitely excel at quarantine.