Vampire lore can be found all around the world. Most people think of locations like Romania (Transylvania), New Orleans or Paris, if you’ve read the Anne Rice vampire novels. Or Forks, Washington, if you’re a Twilight fan.
I’m getting ready for a vacation in the Caribbean next month. Yay! And I couldn’t help but wonder if there were any vampire legends for the islands. I did some online research and checked though a few of my favorite research books. Sure enough there are a few. I may have to do more research when I’m down there.
I find all supernatural legends and folklore fascinating. Some stories have some basis in facts that were embellished and twisted into bizarre tales. People who lived hundreds of years ago didn’t understand modern medicine and disease states. Some of these disease states may have initiated these strange tales. Others are superstitions passed on through generations.
The main story I found is about the Sukuyan. It’s a vampire, usually a female found in Trinidad. Although this creature has been reported on Trinidad, the legend is found on other islands. A well-known story from Trinidad is about a man named Melville Herskovits. He was told his deceased wife was a vampire. The woman supposedly took her husband’s blood, but also had dropped in at the neighbors. She was found drugging his tea.
One night, Melville pretended to drink his tea and stayed awake waiting for her. The woman appeared, took off her skin and placed it behind a water barrel. Melville was shocked, obviously, then watched as she leaped through the roof. He then salted the inside of her skin. Before daybreak the woman returned, but she could not put on her skin because the salt burned her. She wrapped herself in a blanket and lay underneath the bed. Melville called authorities. She was seized, tried, identified as a sukuyan and executed by being covered in tar and set on fire.
Being stuck on a small island with a vampire creature like a sukuyan, would be quite terrifying. No place to run and hide unless you had a boat or a plane.
The Soucouyant or soucerant are mentioned in Dominica, Trinidad, Guyana, Saint Lucia, Grenada, and Guadaloupe. These creatures are more of a blood-sucking hag than a vampire. A shape-shifting character usually an old woman by day, at night she strips off her wrinkled skin and flies across the sky in her true form as a fire ball. She hunts for victims and slips through holes, cracks and keyholes. She can suck blood from arms, legs and soft tissue while their victims sleeps, leaving bruises.
The victim may die or become a soucouyant. They practice black magic. Soucouyants trade victims’ blood for evil powers with a demon Bazil who lives in silk cotton trees.
Where do you think vampires most likely hang out?