In Belizean and Honduras folklore, the Sisimito (may also be spelt Sisimite or Sisimita) or Itacayo is a bipedal upright gorilla-like creature that possesses a head much like a human’s with long hair or fur covering its body. It is may also referred to as “the Mexican bigfoot”. It is also known in other neighbouring countries such as Guatemala, Nicaragua and southern Mexico.
The Sisimite is a humanoid creature, with black or dark brown fur, much larger than an average person, four fingers on each hand but no thumbs, ape-like facial features, and backwards facing feet with no knees. It is said to have a huge force capable of breaking bones in one blow. Its name also differs from ethnic groups. For example, the Garifunans calls it Sismidu. The name has no true English translation and it appears to have came from the Nahuatl word, Tzitzimitl.
The legends also changes in each society.
According to Honduran legends, it is believed that the Sisimite have a preference unto women. And upon falling in love with one he will claim her as his own, never again to be found.
The Honduran explorer and historian, Jesús Aguilar Paz (1895-1974), said that the Sisimite lives in the highest part of the Honduran mountains, more specifically in the inaccessible caverns found there. Aguilar also explains that the Sisimite feeds on the wild berries from the mountains and that it is not a carnivorous being or a hunter, however, it usually goes down to the village to kidnap women to take them to their cave and rape them. This union is believed to procure ape men.
Many people still comment with admiration on the amazing story of a woman who managed to escape from the cave where the Sisimite had taken her to. It is said that the monster, upon realizing her disappearance, chased the woman with the their three human-ape children. She ran into a river and escaped by swimming across. On the other side of the river the Sisimite held the children they had procreated, hoping that she would change her mind, but the woman ran away and saw how the Sisimite, annoyed, threw his children into the river, never to resurface again.
In Belizean legends, the Sisimite is said to also feast on humans. Furthermore, in Belizean societies the belief is:
“If you are a man and you look at him in the eyes (and escaped), you will die within a month. If you are a woman and you look at him in the eyes (and escaped), your life will be prolonged.”
Tales of the Sismite were told in the camps by the mahogany cutters of earlier days and are still passed along in villages like Ranchito and Hill Bank. The Sismite is said to live in high forest areas and lives in caves and on rocky land. In the Toledo District, forest areas have decreased over the years because of agricultural development and the Ketchi believe that Tzultacah, the thunder deities who protects them from wild animals, has pulled the Sismite back into the few densely jungled areas remaining, so he is rarely seen today.
His diet consists of raw meat and fruits, and when feasting on human beings, he will tear the body into several pieces before devouring it. Though fierce and malevolent towards humans, he is afraid of water and dogs and will avoid them at all costs. He often assumes human form, lures people out of the village, and then kills them, and because of this, he is sometimes confused with Xtabay or La Llorona.
On Sundays and religious holidays, such as Good Friday, the Sisimite is believed to prey on hunters and other people who stray into the bushes. He follows human footprints, with his main purpose being either to kill his victims or to rip off their thumbs; he will also attack men who are killing animals needlessly or destroying the forest.
Outsmarting the Sisimite
- According to beliefs, the Sisimite can be outsmarted due to its lack of intelligence, allowing its victim to escape being pursued.
- If one dances in a circle, the Sisimite will attempt to follow them. However, due to his backwards facing feet he would trip and fall.
- Having a dog by one’s side is said to discourage the Sisimite from coming close.
- The Sisimite is said to be afraid of water, likely larger bodies like rivers or lakes.
- In other instances, making a path of footprints leading into a bush will cause the Sisimite to lose track of the prey and will begin to follow its own tracks thinking it is someone elses.
- The ultimate way to get rid of the Sisimite is to set fire to his long hair.