Seven years ago, I asked ten-year old Luvis, “Have you always lived in La Paloma?” Her answer included wild gyrations, chopping motions with a mimed machete, and deafening monkey howls. Then, she told me this tale about the monkey lady.
“When I was a baby we lived on the other side of the island, but we had to move far, far away because a monkey lady attacked my Papa while he was sleeping,” she recounted. To my surprise and utter astonishment, La Mona (the monkey lady) is alive and thriving on La Isla de Ometepe.
According to the accounts of many local islanders, La Mona is a woman by day, and a revengeful Howler monkey at night. She can change into a monkey at night so that she can torment her unfaithful husband. If a woman does not have the power or the correct spell to transform, then she calls on the local Bruja (witch), who will gladly attack her friend’s machismo husband. A sharp machete is her weapon of choice and many a man has been known to change his wicked, unfaithful ways after a night visit from La Mona.
One day when I was walking with Francisco to get water, he stopped suddenly and whispered, “See that woman over there? She is La Mona.” “Francisco,” I asked,” is there only one La Mona or are there many?” “There are many Las Monas on the island. Every village has at least one woman who can change into a monkey at night.” he responded. “All people know the Las Monas on the island. They are very popular.”
I’ll bet they are popular, I thought to myself. I don’t know one faithful husband on the island. Every man I know has a dozen kids with different women. This accounts for the successful monkey business. All the women on the island are desperately seeking the services of La Mona at one time or another.
A local Bruja attacked Luvis’ Papa. She was doing her mama a favor. Luvis said in a serious, hushed tone, ” My Papa moved us to La Paloma after the attack of La Mona. He was very frightened.” That’s one for La Mona. You go girl….or monkey…or whatever! Machismo is really going out of fashion and the men need to take responsibility for their unfaithful ways! The women take their monkey business seriously on Ometepe Island.