Legend has it that in the dark and gloomy nights in Central America, a huge dog — with thick black fur, fire in its eyes, and a thirst for wickedness — secretly stalks all those who venture out of the shelter of their houses at night. This evil creature is known as El Cadejo.
Some believe that there are two types of Cadejo: the blue-eyed white one who protects and accompanies people when they are traveling at night, and the red-eyed black one who pursues drunk people of dubious morality to torment them and sometimes lead them to death. If a black Cadejo is chasing you in the dark, the only possible way to escape is to wait for the white Cadejo to appear in time to protect you… but that doesn’t always happen.
No one has ever seen these ghostly creatures, and anyone who has didn’t live to tell the tale.
When the villagers of San Rafael Pacaya II in Guatemala noticed that something strange was happening in their region, they began to fear the worst. Animals started disappearing from the village and those that were found were dead. The villagers had no idea what was happening, but the disappearances kept occurring night after night. And that’s when the rumors began: El Cadejo had returned!
Terrified by the idea that some horrible creature was terrorizing their village, the villagers made a decision: they would go out looking for the Cadejo and they would finish it off once and for all. They began sending out hunting parties every night and soon they found what they believed to be the terrible creature of legend.
Without stopping to think, they pounced on it and beat it to death.
What they didn’t know was that they had made a terrible mistake. The «infernal creature» they had beaten to death was not El Cadejo at all. They had actually killed a harmless animal whose species is in danger of extinction: a Kinkajou.
The villagers defended their actions by claiming that they had never seen this animal before and its appearance had led them to think that it was the devil. But the fact that they had never seen it is simply because the Kinkajou is so afraid of humans that it tends to live as far away from them as possible.
The Kinkajou was obviously not to blame for the disappearances: this animal is totally harmless and would never attack anyone. But the disappearances have yet to be explained.
It seems that, for the time being at least, the mystery of the Cadejo will remain. Legends and stories are there to teach us and make us reflect, but we should never confuse them with reality. There are many creatures on this earth that look like something from our worst nightmares even though they’re really quite harmless and, in some cases, endangered.
Hopefully these villagers will take a second to consider their actions the next time they run into something strange in the jungle. The survival of a species could depend on it.