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El Duende Mythological Creature in El Salvador

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CINQUERA, El Salvador- El Duende is a little green guy that lives in the mountains of El Salvador.

I am told.

I am also told that he gives free tamales to people.

I went out one night into the mountains where El Duende lives and distributes tamales. I was with a group of friends from the nearby town, Cinquera. They shown a flashlight onto a cliff face to show me the approximate location of the little green tamale distributor’s cave. Only a narrow valley stood between us and the creature known as El Duende.

I was told that his cave is so deep that it goes clear through the mountain to the other side. I was also told that no man has yet successfully traveled all the way through El Duende’s cavernous abode. I took this to mean that the little green fellow would get anyone who tried.

“Is that because El Duende would get them?” I asked innocently.

“No,’ my friends laughed, “it is just a really long cave.”

Logic prevails.

We were on the grounds of an old man who made sort of a haphazard, homemade, tourist operation out of his property — which consisted of land for camping, an old adobe house for visitors, and a homemade zipline (a truly awesome machine).

The old man sat with us and told stories. The rain of the night had drowned our campfire, we were now all huddled together under the eaves of the rough looking guest house. Dogs, sheep, and goats ran all around in the night. I nearly sat on a curled up dog, mistaking it for a log. We watched the lightning tear through the night, striking the valley below us. The rain poured down. We hid out.

We asked the old man about El Duende. Regrettably, he informed us that we were too late to stop in on for a chat with him or to get our free tamales — El Duende had moved out of the nearby cave and had gone to find another one on Asaquopa. The old man also said that he no longer gives out free tamales.

It seems to me that El Duende has retired.


El Duende’s new home in a cave in the mountains beyond

A duende is a fairy- or goblin-like mythological creature. While its nature varies throughout Spain, Portugal and Spanish-speaking America . . .

They are believed to be of a small stature wearing big hats, whistling a mystical song, while walking in the forest. Using their talent, they are believed to lure young girls to the forest causing them to lose their way home. Conversely, in some Latin cultures the Duendes are believed to be the helpers of people who get lost in the forest so they could find their way home. In the folklore of the Central American country of Belize, particularly amongst the country’s African/Carib-descended Creole and Garifuna populations, Duende are thought of as a forest spirit called “Tata Duende” who lacks thumbs.

El Duende Wikipedia

El Duende El Salvador Mythology

Filed under: El Salvador | World Culture

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Filed under: Central America, Culture and Society, El Salvador, Folklore

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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