Afro-Caribbean Gothic

Briana L. Urena-Ravelo
2 min readSep 17, 2017
By José Morillo

Growing up you remember your mom speaking in Spanish to family back home in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Florida on the phone. She was always speaking to someone back home on the phone in Spanish, even when storms have knocked the power out.

The resplendent vibrant painting of the Dominican countryside filled with colorful tin roof houses, wicker baskets, huge wooden pilons, tienditas, farm animals, palm trees and faceless little multicolored country folk shopping always brought you joy as a child, especially when the people changed colors or sometimes started dancing.

You can’t help but laugh when your other Latinx friends talk about being afraid of La llorna or el Cucuy. If only the beasts of old Arawak and West African legend were so quaint. Suddenly, you hear the distinct shriek of a Ciguapa in the distance.

Your mother offhandedly refers to one of your relatives by a name you have never heard before, and you go “Wait, who is that?” and she looks at you bewildered. It is the real name of your favorite aunt, didn’t you know? You didn’t. You’re 18.

Your father, usually terse and quiet, suddenly seems arrested by an unspoken fear and starts to fret at you about andando po’ la calle even though you’re 24 and, frustratingly, makes you miss your 5 o’clock bus. En route on a later bus you see there was a horrible accident with that bus you missed. When you return home at 11:30pm your dad is back to quiet again and simply asks how your night went.

Sometimes at night you can hear your paternal grandfather playing dominoes with his friends. He has been dead for over 27 years.

Your mother’s most prized possession is a little rich colored clay muñeca with deep black skin, a pot on her head and a scarf. She says when she was little and hungry, she’d always find a piece of candy or food in her pot and miraculously, despite the small size, it would fill her. You never take her tale into account until one day, after coming home from a rather vigorous run and having forgotten your water bottle, you notice the muñeca’s pot is filled with sparkling water.

There’s always a container of rice in the fridge even if you don’t ever remember seeing anyone make it.

It goes without saying that the tub of butter in the fridge won’t actually have butter in it, but that it always seem to have exactly what you need and what you’re craving, sometimes before you even realize it, is a bit eerie.

Briana L. Urena-Ravelo

Writer. Community organizer. Errant punk. Ne’er do well. Fire starter. Email: