The Cuyancua

Long ago, when the Maya people used to live in El Salvador, at the end of a dry season, some Indians discovered an uncommon animal near a river, which was massive and was half-pig and half-snake (figure 1).

The Indians tiptoed and tried to approach it, when, suddenly, they heard a dark squawk, and the animal slid on the river and started to rain. After this, a new wet season began, and they named it the Cuyancua or the Cuyancuat.

Figure 1. The Cuyancua, the half-pig, and half-snake animal. ¹

Following this first encounter, the Cuyancua became more prevalent in their lives. It began to appear to announce the wet season or to predict rains, tropical storms, hurricanes, La Niña, and floods, among other water phenomena in some unexpected cases.

Nowadays, you can see Cuyancua in the north of Izalco. Here, the citizens say when dusk is falling, they listen to a very dark squawk and feel strong turbulence under the earth, which panics all Indian families and the suburbs. All these uncommon experiences force them to lock themselves in their homes very early before 6 PM until the next day when the Cuyancua has left.

It’s important to highlight that its squawk is heard mainly in the vicinity of rivers or streams. This creature crawls to find food and usually hides in the irrigation ditches of Izalco, Caluco, Nahulingo, and San Ramón. Those who hear the Cuyancua entrust themselves to God, close their eyes, pray, and hope that nothing is going to happen because most of them know what it meant for the Maya people.

In addition, the people who constantly burn the midnight oil and have seen this creature face-to-face faint and were unable to speak for a couple of days after they woke up. The few who overcame their experience shared it with their relatives and friends; therefore, they won’t leave it and try avoiding the place where they met it. However, it might not work because Cuyancua is not going to be in the same place two times.

If you are brave enough to meet the Cuyancua, some Izalqueños share a few useful tips. It frequently hides in the Atecozol Spa surrounding areas. Next, it crawls along stream beds, winds up in trees, and disappears from human sight for some time. Shortly after this, you can hear it near Nahulingo, where it slides down the rivers to scare the washerwomen of the Río Grande de San Miguel River. In the end, you can hear it in Caluco or San Ramón. Who knows where it will be the next time!

Finally, there is one last tip. If you find pure water springing from the earth where there was not a river before, this is a Cuyancua sign. Indeed, this new headwater was dug by it, and later, it slept nearby. Hence if you walk around it, and you’re lucky, you can meet it before it leaves. As an additional fact, this water is extremely pure and fresh, and everyone can enjoy it; therefore, feel free to drink it.

As you can see, the Cuyancua possesses a certain dominion over the waters and the rain, that’s why everyone respects it.

Inspired by El Salvador Mi País’s version.

¹ Hilos Narrativos 2013.


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