Updated: 3 days ago
As seen in the Washington Post Cancun addition, published by Laura LaBrie
I just got back from spending a month on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. It was a great trip and I found myself delving into some interesting things while I was there.
A race of tiny people called Aluxob (the singular is Alux) live in the jungles and cenotes of the Yucatan. You assume I am speaking of ancient folklore? I am not so sure...
I had some personal experiences with one about 4 years ago in my home in Puerto Aventuras (a town on the beach in the Riviera Maya) and I wanted to dig into the experience a little deeper. So I interviewed local Maya to see what they had to say.
Let me tell you my experience first:
I was living in a nice condo on the ocean and my daughter, Sarah, and her Mexican boyfriend, Javi, were staying with me. Some weird things were happening in the house.
In the middle of the night, I repeatedly heard someone yell my name right in my ear and it woke me up and practically sent me through the roof. Sarah and Javi experienced the same thing.
The blender and other small appliances turned on in the middle of the night.
While walking down the hall, I would feel a slap on my leg just above the ankle.
All this was odd, but not too troubling (Except flying out of bed to shut off the blender in the middle of the night. I hate that adrenaline rush.) The kids were experiencing everything as intensly as I was and several times Javi said, "You have an Alux."
Of course I didn't take him seriously.
Until the foot prints appeared in the hall.
This hall went to my daughter's room. My bedroom was on the other side of the house. When I got up early one morning and walked past it, I saw water on the floor all the way down to my daughter's bedroom. I figured Sarah had taken a shower and dripped all the way down the hall. The floors can be very slippery, so I started to go remind her to not drip water everywhere, but as soon as I stepped into the hall I saw that it wasn't just dripping water, it was tiny wet foot prints.
"I told you, you have an Alux" said Javi.
OK. I believed.
Later I went to a close friend of mine, Crescent. She is from Canada and also lived in the Riviera Maya in Mexico with her Mayan husband. They own a dive shop. I asked Crescent if she knew anything about an aulx. She said she didn't but she would ask her husband, William.
"Oh yes," (hear this said in a drawn out fashion) said William.
And then he proceeded to tell about how the fishermen see the tiny wet footprints on their boats early in the mornings. Mind you, I had mentioned nothing about the wet foot prints in my hall.
OK. So now I am sure an alux is a real creature, not just a myth. But what exactly IS an alux?
Enter this most recent trip and many interviews.
I found when at first I asked locals if they knew about the alux, they were reluctant to say anything. But after I shared my story, they became animated and very open. Some shared stories of their own and some thanked me for sharing mine. Apparently, even the sharing of stories is considered a noble thing and I was delighted to be a part of that. Also, I want to note that I had these conversations in Spanish. Most of these people speak Maya. They all function daily in Spanish, and most of them speak limited English. Speaking in Spanish, I believe, was comforting to them and encouraged them to share more freely.
Things I discovered:
1. Alux live all over the peninsula, but mostly in the jungle. Not as many live in the tourist areas of Quintana Roo by the beach (commonly known as the Riviera Maya). The farms and old villages in the interior state of Yucatan are rife with them. They are considered the guardians of the jungle.
2. They are small people, about 18 inches high. I have read on-line about their ability to turn into animals, but no locals confirmed this. They did, however, say that they hide in the rocks and cenotes and some said they can shape-shift and actually make themselves appear as rocks.
3. Most of the time they are invisible to us, but sometimes they are caught in their natural form.
4. When asked if they are spirit or corporeal, people responded that they are neither. They are AIR. This is very interesting and I am currently trying to learn more about this. People also said they are NATURE or NATURAL. Does this mean they are elemental beings (fire, air, earth, water)? I also heard a story of a human form created from water (called a Kanan Sayab which literally means guardian of the jungle but is also considered the guardian of the springs) walking through the ruins at Coba. Wow...so much to track down!
5. They love to play. Sometimes the Maya people find tiny toys left lying around the house. If they are not happy they throw small stones or sometimes hit you.
6. If they are happy they will guard your home or farm (milpa). They can be very good and helpful if honored correctly.
7. Farmers build houses for them to keep them in their fields. The alux will guard all four corners of the filed and if someone comes to steal anything, they will surround the robber so he cannot escape.
8. In Costa Rica they are called Duende
9. VERY COOL STORY. The City of Cancun was building a new bridge just outside the airport and it kept collapsing. The local Mayans went to the city and told them they had an alux. So the city hired a Mayan shaman to contact the alux and find out what to do. The alux said it wanted a house, so the city built a beautiful alux house in the shape of a pyramid under the bridge. Then they were able to complete the work on the bridge. It still stands today with no problems and the pyramid-house is there all lit up at night and beautiful for everyone to see as they head out from the airport and into the beach strip on vacation. Here is a link to the article in the Yucatan Times. YUCATAN TIMES ARTICLE
10. If you have an alux in your house and you want it to leave, you (or preferably a Mayan shaman, called a J-Man) can do a ceremony with herbs and plants (I hope to learn more about this) including burning incense made from the resin of the copal tree.
I have more questions about the alux. I have read they dress like the ancient Maya. Some of the people I interviewed have seen them or have stories of family members who have seen them. I forgot to ask what they were wearing, but I will go back and see if I can track that down. I also want to know more about their nature. What does it mean that they are AIR?
In my interviewing, I also heard a story of different beings called gnomes (pronounced in the Spanish way nome-es) They were described as being bigger than an alux, having horns, having an unpleasant nature, carrying knives, causing children to hurt each other and argue, wearing black sombreros, and needing to be evicted by means of a ceremony done including a Bible. I wonder, are they also air or are they earth?
We have so much to learn.
PS Catriona Brown messaged me shortly after I posted this with this personal story. She gave me permission to share it. If anyone else has a story to share, please do!
Last month I was in that state of just waking up I saw a man go past my bedroom towards the kitchen ( I have double glass doors there) . He was small, maybe 3', old man bent a little in his back, with a walking stick, large nose, forehead receding, receding black hair, black eyes, bit ugly and very grumpy looking and on a mission. Beige sleeveless tunic to the ankles with some design on the front, leather sandals . I remember thinking. I wouldn't like to get in an argument with him. Nothing else happened BUT I often hear my name yelled in the middle of the night as if they are in the room. This doesn't happen when I'm traveling.