Just as silk cotton trees are among the scariest places you might ever come across in the Caribbean, this red devil is about the scariest character you could ever be unlucky enough to meet there.
This is Le Soucouyant, or at least it’s a uniquely expressive representation of one that I was fortunate enough to see while visiting the Tobago museum/home/workshop of the celebrated German artist Luise Kimme mere months before she passed away.
Some of you may remember that we’ve touched on various aspects of the Soucouyant legend before – how she typically appears as an old lady by day, sheds her skin and flies around as a ball of fire at night, enters homes via keyholes, and sucks all your blood ’til you’re good and dead.
Just the other day, though, while talking to my Dad, I learned another key detail about the Soucouyant that I never knew before: how to defeat them!
As he remembers it, from stories told by my Great-Grandmother during his childhood years in Trinidad, there’s one special place where the Soucouyant always hangs her skin before jetting off to wreak havoc…
You guessed it: a silk cotton tree.
Now, let’s just say you happen upon a silk cotton with human skins draped all over it. Your first inclination might be to run, right? Well, with an ounce or two of bravery, and a bunch of salt, you could actually defeat the evil blood-suckers.
As my Great-Granny used to say, once you sprinkle salt on the skin, the Soucouyant can no longer put it back on. Apparently, this kills ’em, though I can’t really see why they don’t just go on living as the marauding fireballs they embody during the night.
Either way, it’s probably best to always have some salt handy during your nocturnal Caribbean adventuring… especially around Halloween.