Most modern day monsters do a pretty darn good job of instilling the fear of God in us, but there’s one lesser-known creature who’s giving the web the heebie-jeebies: the Duende. Meet the frightening little creature from Latin America that’s starring in some of the creepiest YouTube videos on the internet.
According to Wikipedia, the Duende is a “fairy- or goblin-like mythological creature” that prefers to spend his days in Latin American countries, but has, on occasion, also been spotted the Philippines. He’s distant cousins with the Kobolds, a kind of native German sprite, and for the most part, is pretty much the equivalent to popular mythical creatures like goblins or pixies. In short, he’s kind of a gnome.
For the most part, the classic description of a Duende makes it sound like he isn’t that bad of a guy, in fact he’s known to be quite a good little helper when he wants to be. If you get lost in the woods, you better hope there’s a Duende nearby, because legend says he’ll help you find your way home.
On the other hand, the American Southwest Duende has a bit of an attitude problem. He’s said to live between the walls of homes, especially if there are a lot of children living nearby, as they love to trim their toenails, sometimes even taking a toe by “accident”. Some Duende are said to barter with young mothers for unwanted babies, as they’ve developed quite a taste for fleshy little humans. Everyone knows babies taste the best.
More often than not, Duende are said to hide out in the shadows, watching groups of children at play. They’re especially big fans of kickball, which coincidentally is why most popular Duende videos begin with a bunch of kids playing ball in the street.
Duende sightings generally follow the same format — a small group of kids are playing soccer outside, usually at night, when suddenly one of them notices something moving in the shadows. Cue the duende, who then pops out from behind a bush/trashcan/stairwell ect. and scurries away into the dark, pointy hat and all.
The oldest and most famous Duende sighting caught on film is the “Argentina Gnome”. The video features the side-shuffling, pointy-hat-wearing, nightmare-inducing mother of all Duendes. The clip is only 48 seconds, but that was just enough airtime to make a lasting impression on the internet.
The next time you’re walking home at night and you catch something move out of the corner of your eye, you might be inclined to believe it a ghost, the Jersey Devil, or even Mothman, but remember… there’s an equal chance it might be a Duende waiting to pop out and scurry away. Just make sure to keep your toenails trimmed and you’ll be fine.