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Legends of Belize -- La X’tabai Folklore

Updated on April 4, 2012

This folk story came to my attention by chance and la X’tabai fascinated me with her story as an enchantress, encantadora. The legend of this beautiful young girl of Indian descent with her long straight silky black hair is found in San Pedro. Many men have seen or met this young woman, the results varying, but frequently leading to disaster for them.

x'tabai is said to only appear to those men that wander in the bush late at night. She calls to the men and takes them into the bush where when she has finished with them will kill them or leave them in pain. She can change herself to appear like a prickly tree or even a snake.

One story that is told is of a young man of fifteen who was always going out and returning home late. His mother often warned him that something will happen to him but still he goes to town.

Then one night while walking home late he sees a beautiful young girl combing her long black hair. She calls to him and then moves into the bush with the young man following, and as he follows he remembers the story his mother had related to him many times. He knows he is in the presence of la X’tabai and he cannot run.

The beautiful girl turned to the young man and slowly hugs him, at which point she changes into a prickly tree, her feet becoming long sharp claws. The prickles enter the young man’s body and the claws scratch him. As suddenly as she changes, la X’tabai disappears and the young man falls to the ground in pain. It took him several hours to find the road and when he does a car is passing, but stops, the driver getting out and picking him up.

“I think you have seen the X’tabai,” he said while placing the young man into his car. He takes him to an old man who collects leaves and bathes his body, the wounds.

After a week the young man is well again and he tells his friends the story, having himself learnt a useful lesson and now listens to his mother. This like many legends is one that is often used to get children to obey their parents, instilling fear to keep them on the straight and narrow.

It was said by the natives around Don Pedro of this legend that those men who left X’tabai became ill with fever or were harmed in some way. Those that stayed with her were unharmed. It is also claimed with this legend that the sign of the cross will make her disappear, and praying seemed to protect men if they see her in the bush, no evil would come to them.

If you are interested in more information on Belize the history, culture, traditions, or Expat living. Come visit my site for more wonderful information on this fantastic country. At Also don’t forget I am always looking to post your original stories on your travels to Belize as well so If you have something you would like to share please email me


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  • Freya Cesare profile image

    Freya Cesare 7 years ago from Borneo Island, Indonesia

    Very interesting story indeed. I love folk story even when I already become adult. Thank you already shared this one. :)