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“La Segua” is a legend that chastises improper and loose female behaviour, as well as drunken and unfaithful activity of men.
These are evil women that appear at night dressed in horse hair and with a lot of makeup on their faces. They look for their lover or for the man that played with their feelings. Ceguas appear in the throughout the country; there are ugly and beautiful ones. Their origin lies in women full of hate that at the moment of their death choose to continue seeking revenge. Among themselves, ceguas are very friendly; they even help each other to conquer their preys.
Generally, they appear dressed up to drunk men and try to seduce them. Moreover, they laugh loudly; sometimes, they dress in black attire. Their apparitions are manicly melancholy because they scream, laugh or cry wildly. Their goal is to avenge their own deceptions playing with other men and leaving them as crazed idiots. For this reason, when a man acts like an idiot or appears absent-minded, it is said the cegua played with him (lo jugó la cegua).
There was once a beautiful Cartaginesa (female inhabitant of Cartago) of mixed Indian and Spanish blood. She is usually depicted as having beautiful white skin which contrasts with her jet black eyes and cascading long hair. One of the versions of the legend says that she fell in love with a Spanish officer who tricked her and broke her heart. The exact manner in which he “tricked” her is not entirely clear, but there is a clear suggestion that it involved some improper advances, sexual in nature, and extremely forbidden for a lady from a good Catholic family. After the Spanish rogue had disappeared, the lady went insane, and an awful curse befell her, turning her into a monster, forever destined to wonder lonely roads.
La Segua, as the monster is called, poses as the beautiful lady that she once was, and she waits by the roadside for unsuspecting men who would be riding their horses after a long night of heavy drinking in town. Attracted to the beauty, they accept to give her a ride on their horse, but as they turn around, instead of beholding the enchanting companion, they come face to face with a horrendous monster with the skull of a horse and fiery red eyes. The warning is clear: men should stay away not only from heavy drinking, but most importantly, from attractive lonely women who can tempt them away from their family life.
Women are not exempt from the warning. In order to not be transformed into a heinous apparition, cursed to wander forever, single women should not give in to advances of men. Furthermore, La Segua’s fate is as bad as it is, because like La Malinche, the Mexican Indian woman who served as Cortés’s translator and lover (Cortés was the ruthless,main Spanish conquistador of Mexico), she is betraying her people by falling in love with a Spaniard, the oppressor. Even though La Segua was of mixed blood, in a colonial context that would not place her on the same level as people of “pure”Spanish descent. Therefore, La Segua does not only betray the honor of her family because of her licentious behaviour, but by sleeping with the enemy.
The most terrifying of Nicaragua’s folkloric characters is La Cegua, a witch who resides in the woods. She takes on several facades. At times she appears in a white corn leaf dress with a veil covering her face. It is said that she has long black hair covering over her face. She is also said to wear a Guarumo Tree leaf dress and her voice is made rasping and hollow by plantain leaves covering her teeth.
Others say that her face is ghostly and that her eyes stare into her victim’s souls. Still another version says that she is believed to have the face of a horse. Nicaraguans also say that she walks through the woods and back roads naked, waiting for her next victim. Men are drawn to her fantastical silhouette. The words she speaks to these men are so horrific that the victim goes insane instantaneously – something from which they never recover.
La Cegua is believed to have super-human abilities and is able to walk through solid objects, gravitate above ground and fly at extreme speeds in her efforts to lure men into her trap. To save yourself from such an encounter you should carry mustard seeds and throw them before her. She apparently will stop to try and pick up the magical seeds. As with other myths in Nicaraguan folklore, the tale of La Cegua is believed to ensure that men come straight home after work.