The Monkey Witch

Nicaraguans believe in living simply. They want to earn enough to care for their needs and those of their children. Big cars, long work weeks, and dreams of lavish Hollywood lifestyles aren’t really in their DNA.

They are friendly to strangers and good to their neighbors. Unless you’re at a country rodeo or a rowdy baseball game, you’re not likely to see a fight break out.

Many times here, I’ve had strangers offer help, a cold drink, or a plate of food. They live in close communities and they share in each other’s successes and tragedies. They believe in God.

And they believe in The Monkey Witch.


Known as ‘La Mona Bruja,’ ask any Nicaraguan and they will warn you the Monkey Witch is both real and living among us. Probably 80% of the 7 million citizens here either live with an intense fear of this little goblin or cannot entirely deny the possibility of her existence.

For example, my Spanish teacher the other day, when I asked her if she belived in the Monkey Witch, she said no. Then she said, “but a lot of people here say they’ve seen her jumping from roof to roof… what do you think?”

She believes.

The way it works is as follows:

An old woman lives among us – sharing the same city bus, walking the same streets, going to the bakery. She is very old…But at night she climbs on the roofs of houses, or walks freely through treetops. In one of these trees, or at some secret location, she will leave her skin in a pile or a little box, taking on the unmistakeable shape of a monkey.

Once in monkey form she enters your house and robs you blind. The Monkey Witch leaves with your belongings, puts her skin back on, and goes on with her evening.

What I’m unclear on is whether or not she maintains an appetite for vandalism after the first job. Perhaps she calls it a night or maybe she moves on to your house or mine.

All of this makes reasonable sense to me, but I’m left with a few questions:

1. How does she break in? If she uses magic of some kind, I don’t believe she can be stopped unless the tenant or owner also has combative magic powers. If all she’s doing is picking a lock, looking for a spare key under a mat or plant, punching through a basement window, I dunno – I’m not as impressed.

In her defense, I’ll say that I have not heard of her being caught. So no one could argue that she’s really a good little thief. Other than seeing her run and jump rooftops, she’s not as of yet been apprehended (a) in a home or (b) while committing a crime.

Jumping through trees and rooftops isn’t against any law I’m aware of.

2. How dangerous could a monkey be in a physical confrontation? I think the answer here is quite dangerous. From what I’m told, even a small monkey could inflict a lot of damage, especially if they have something handy to throw or bludgeon with. A large monkey is apparently much stronger than a human. That being said, I’m relieved in a way to know that The Monkey Witch isn’t known for violent behavior, though now that I think about it I have heard the claims that she sometimes steals children. Most likely the children do not fare well under her care, probably eaten. Keeping in mind it’s the bad children she steals maybe that kind of tempers the loss.

Knowing all this, we can surmise she is both quick and cunning with at least a reasonable amount of strength.

3. What can be done to stop The Monkey Witch? It seems that some kind of trap could be handy here. Maybe a cage with money or a laptop or some tasty food inside could ensnare her. I don’t know. Perhaps a small child could be left sleeping just inside a doorway as bait. Once the Monkey Witch comes for the kid, the door slams shut, trapping the crafty old woman inside and the child more than likely no worse for wear.

What we know:

Old woman. Very crafty and smart. Will stop at nothing to break in to your home and she is a world-class burgler. Highly capable physically and can jump great distances.

What we don’t know:

How well she can handle herself in a confrontation with a full-grown man.

How she can remove her skin and put it back on again, nor why she would want to.

Could she be someone we think we know at the moment and if so, how do we go about vetting the old women in our towns to make sure they aren’t The Monkey Witch?

We don’t know what her next target is and we don’t know when.

My advice:

Don’t keep too many valuables in your home, but perhaps just enough that she doesn’t suspect you of hiding things from her. Same theory as having a ‘dummy wallet’ in a high-risk country.

I would be careful being close friends with old women. If you do interact with any, and they start asking you questions like “where you live? you keep any laptops or guns at the house…any cash?” or other things like that, well, I think you know who you’re dealing with.

I don’t believe in The Monkey Witch. Then again, maybe I’ll make sure my doors are all locked.

I mean, just in case.