Remembering El Chupacabra

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I remember El Chupacabra (The Goatsucker) well. I visited El Yunque rainforest, northeastern Puerto Rico, right smack dab in the middle of the Chupacabra craze. The year was 1995. The locals -rural mountain folk, or Jíbaros were freaked out because the nocturnal cryptid El Chupacabra was sucking the body fluids from their livestock. The original Chupacabra was badass: big red oval eyes, claws, dorsal spikes and a body shaped like a kangaroo. These days he’s evolved into a mangy coyote-dog hybrid, still terrorizing poultry, but now along the Tex-Mex border.

Back in 1995, I hiked into El Yunque National Rainforest. This is a tropical rainforest harboring several unique species. I observed several vibrantly colored iridescent orb-weaving spiders, birds, lizards and frogs. The rainforest encompasses approximately 28,000 acres of land, making it the largest single section of public land in Puerto Rico. The tallest peak is El Toro, rising 1,065 metres (3,494 ft) above sea level. Considerable rainfall (>;;200 inches a year in some areas) supports a jungle habitat thick with trees. El Yunque reminded me of the Central-American setting of Predator(1987). I envisioned an alien lurking amongst the vines, ferns and Coquí tree frogs.

Cryptids always lurk in expanse places -The Yeti of the Himalayas, Nessie of Loch Ness, The Jersey Devil of the Pine Barrens, Bigfoot of the Redwoods, and El Chupacabra of El Yunque. After hiking into this amazing rainforest I concluded that if ever there was a good place to hide and find food, El Yunque is the perfect home for El Chupacabra.

As I hiked from the rainforest I was greeted by a young vender selling Chupacabra kites to tourists. These were fabricated out of split bamboo, rayon and expertly painted in vivid colors. They were made in Malaysia. I had that kite for many years but I misplaced or lost it in a move. Here’s an example of the faux-Chupacabra kite I procured from the net.

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El Chupacabra is one of my favorite urban legends. Do I believe an alien goat sucking beast dwells in the Puerto Rican rainforest? Nah. Well -maybe. Crap. Now El Chupacabra’s a scrawny canine.

They don’t make ‘me like they used to.

http://www.princeton.edu/~accion/chupa.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%ADbaro

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