Punta Cana Mythbusters

Punta Cana Mythbusters

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From the mysterious and mystical to the banal and comical, Punta Cana urban myths abound. Some are scary urban legends arising from traditional tales about witches and people-eaters, while others involve malevolent curses and supernatural creatures. A good portion, however, are simply common misconceptions perpetuated by well-intended visitors. Are you among the Punta Cana mythbusters? Check out this handful of popular legends to test your local knowledge.

1. An alien being comes in the night to suck the blood of livestock.

TRUE. Or so the story goes. The "chupacabra" (literally, goat sucker) is a Punta Cana urban myth that has been told and retold from Mexico to Puerto Rico, and Florida to Punta Cana. Portrayed in literature as a supernatural creature which runs bent over and close to the ground with a ridge of spines lining its back, the chupacabra is said to slay goats, pigs, cows and other livestock in the dead of night to suck their blood and sup on internal organs. Will you see the legendary goat sucker in your travels? Highly unlikely. But talk to locals and you'll surely hear a tale or two about farm animals found dead with two little puncture holes in their neck.

2. Punta Cana is immune to Spring Breakers.

FALSE. You wouldn't be the first unsuspecting vacationer to get caught up in food fights, drinking binges, buffet races and other shenanigans perpetuated by young Americans (and Europeans) on Spring Break in Punta Cana. Mythbusters top tip: if this isn't your idea of a relaxing vacation, be sure to book an "adults only" resort. Some hotels specifically prohibit spring breakers. Looking for this fine print is another strategy to avoid the partying hordes.

3. A club-wielding people-eater roams the Dominican countryside.

TRUE. According to one of Punta Cana's most pervasive scary urban legends, the "comegente" was an 18th-century assassin who slew innocents in such a gory manner he earned the people-eater moniker. In a popular version of this urban myth, the comegente was trained in Haitian voodoo, giving him supernatural powers to cross space and time, and roamed the countryside clubbing people to death. He eluded capture by disappearing when he came in contact with water. If you have the sense you're being followed (and smell something fetid), beware. It might be the comegente, and he's hungry.

4. It's unsafe to leave the confines of your resort.

FALSE. While petty theft and opportunistic crime can happen anywhere in the world (trust me on this one, I've been a victim more than once), Punta Cana and the surrounding areas are generally pretty safe. Local authorities try to keep it that way, since tourism is the economic backbone of the region. Logically, keeping visitors safe is a high priority. Of course, implementing common sense measures to limit your vulnerability are a good idea. Leaving your passport and large sums of cash in your hotel safe are standard precautions, as is not wearing your best jewelry outside the resort. If you want to take a taxi somewhere, ask your concierge to arrange one.

5. The tooth fairy doesn't visit Punta Cana.

TRUE. But worry not if your little one has a loose front tooth while you're on vacation. Ratoncito Pérez (Mouse Pérez) is sure to make a visit in the Tooth Fairy's stead. Mouse Pérez is an age-old character in the canon of Dominican kiddy lit and works in much the same way as his fairer cousin up north, only he comes in the night dressed in a straw hat and glasses wearing a little red backpack (where he keeps his gold and goodies, we assume). Now here's a myth worth perpetuating!

6. The remains of Christopher Columbus are buried in the Dominican Republic.

FALSE. Of course, old Chris stopped in these parts, his second port of call in the Caribbean after Cuba, in fact. But he didn't stop in Punta Cana and neither did his remains. Interestingly, he was attacked by hostile natives on nearby Samaná Peninsula and forced to retreat, but only after taking 20 captive and transporting them back to Spain to put them on display. He also took heaps of gold. Although this Punta Cana urban legend persists that some of his bones or ashes may be scattered about the island (specifically in the Columbus Lighthouse in Santo Domingo), DNA testing has revealed that his final resting place is actually in Seville, Spain.
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