Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Galipote on the loose


The word galipote, also spelled gualipote comes from the Taino language, quali meaning 'children of' and pote which means 'the devil'. I have heard the word before, but thought nothing of it until last night people were running through the streets of the barrio saying that there was a galipote on the loose, with fire coming out of his mouth, and to lock up the children and stay inside. These legendary magical creatures are said to be men who turn into animals or inanimate objects such as  tree trunks and stones. According to the belief galipotes are cruel and violent and frighten people at night.


Many galipotes become dogs which was what apparently what it was yesterday. The lady who saw it was on her scooter when it appeared. She said it was an enormous dog and at first she thought that someone had brought it from New York as she had never seen such a big dog here. However it rose on its hind legs and spat fire from its mouth at which point she turned and ran. It then went on a rampage through the local banana plantation ripping through the  trees with its claws.


Galipotes are immune to bullets and they say the only way to kill one is to get a branch and make a wooden cross from wood which can only be cut on Good Friday. Some say you must use a knife or machete that has been blessed with water and salt.


Apparently in order to become a galipote you make a pact with the devil whereby you sell your soul in exchange for being able to change yourself into another form.


I thought that was the end of the excitement but the problem we have is that we have an English Mastiff rescue dog, who is massive but old and slow and blind. Word is now going around the barrio that maybe he is a galipote and even the dustbin men refused to collect the rubbish today, scared that our galipote might get them. I have a horrid feeling I will now be known as the gringa who lives with a galipote.



17 comments:

  1. So unfortunate that these myths can take over one's life like that. I do hope they will come to their senses and allow you and your dog to live in peace.

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    1. I don't know where the myths come from and if they have any basis in fact. Even my step children although they know our dog is harmless, believe in the galipote from last night.

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  2. Better not tell them about the tooth fairy Linds!

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    1. Ha. I don't think Dominicans fairies are nice. I will have to check if tooth fairy exsists.

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  3. Lindsay, one thing that I have learn from being part of the Caribbean culture it is very difficult to convince uneducated masses anything different from what they know and believe in. The presence of Voudou and Santeria is very prevalent in their lives and many of them use these religious beliefs to guide and navigate them through their existence here on earth and to make sense of the scientific things that they dont understand. . Its just mind boggling that even your step-sons who are young and from a more modern era and I assumed are educated actually subscribe to these mystic beliefs.

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    1. I know it is mind boggling and I tried to explain. I was met with the answer that I cannot believe in God then, as if there is God there must be a devil and this was the devil and if you believe in one you must believe in the other.
      Interestingly there has been lots of thefts of the bananas and now they are wondering if it was a set up to make people scared to steal the bananas, playing on the fear of the local people so we are making some progress.
      I would love to know where all the ideas came from and how long it will take before people stop believing in them. It must have been the same in the UK at some stage.

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  4. Your poor old dog, an innocent victim in all this. I definitely can't see him breathing fire. I hope the binmen will reaslise he's harmless again soon. Every culture has had its share of bogeymen beliefs. Even up to a century ago, werewolves, loups-garou, roamed freely in France apparently. At some point I suppose you get either enough sceptics or, with education, a certain level of common sense that makes people realise these things are just made up.

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    1. There are so many beliefs here it is mind boggling and a definite need for education, but I think it will take years.

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  5. I feel sorry for your poor dog! When a belief in a supernatural being is so deeply engrained in a culture I have found that a blatant challenge such as "There is no such thing as the chupacabra" only creates more paranoia and even hostility. When the idea of the creature isn't dismissed but other possibilities for the havoc are suggested, (sometimes) people are more receptive. Perhaps you can find a subtle way to convince everyone in the barrio that your blind mastiff is harmless and not the fearsome galipote.

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    1. Good point as definitely blatant challenges do not work at all. I will try and think of a cunning plan. Thanks.

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  6. I wonder who created this myth. Had he been drinking firewater?
    Your poor old dog I hope he comes to no harm...

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    1. Dog is blissfully unaware of all the fuss and am sure will be OK. I would love to know where the galipote originated so need to do more research!

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  7. I think even countries such as the US and UK have their share of myths. The Harry Potter sequence made JK Rollins a billionaire. It is dressed up in those cultures and called paranormal state or 'medium'. Having watched Joseph Campbell for years, I realize that myths exist in all cultures, and the underlying reason, as someone already stated, is just to make sense of the unknown in our world. Whether it's beads, or incense, or the patron saint of such and such, or galipote - there's a common thread there.

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  8. JIJIJIj cracking up with this ,galipote baca,zombies,horse with the men headless all those stories i heard during my childhood in Santiago,RD jijijiji Im still got scared when the light its off in the campo.

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    1. Haha. In England we had the bogeyman - he was nowhere near as exciting as a galipote though. I must learn about all the other nasty creatures there are.

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  9. You are so funny, I remember when I was growing in DR back in the 90's they called them "Bacas" they were also some sort of evil- turned animals that were able to jump from roof to roof with one step. You were not supposed to look at them, and definitely no eye contact, so all your windows had to be closed until all the noises stopped outside. Those were enough to keep a child up in fear for a week!

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    1. Gosh have never heard of those! It sounds terrifying with all these wierd things around. I wonder where the stories all originated. Thanks for telling me!

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