This is the first of several monthly installments of Costa Rican lore, by Resident Naturalist Paul Tupper.
This is the legend of La Segua, as told on separate occasions by UGACR security guards Alfredo Zamora and Manuel Leitón, and forest reserve manager Lucas Ramirez.
Many years ago, there was a young man who liked to go to town every weekend and sometimes on the weekdays, always looking for guaro (liquor) and beautiful girls. One night, drunk from a night of partying, he mounted his giant and powerful horse, and took off into the night. It was a moonless night, but clear and crisp and bursting with stars. As he made his short journey home, he passed an open pasture with a small pond, and at the edge of the pond, something shone at him – something beautiful, rare, and irresistible. He turned his horse. He found a beautiful girl sitting at the edge of the pond, the most lovely girl he’d ever seen. She says she could not sleep, and had walked two hours in the beautiful night. The young man talked for a bit, and mustered up the courage to ask if she wanted a ride back to his place. She obliged, and they took of down the road, the man smiling to himself and lighting a cigarette. Being a gentleman, he asked the lady if she would like to smoke as well. She did, and he passed her a cigarette as well. He turned around on his horse to help her light her cigarette, and as he saw her… he SCREAMED and jumped off the horse. While from toe to neck his beautiful maiden was still there, her head had been replaced the most gruesome horse’s head he had ever seen, teeth and nostrils and bulging eyes! He sat like a petrified stone for days, and never again went looking for trouble in town. That is the story of La Segua.
And that’s why I take taxis, not horses.