The inmates of the old prison on the island of Fernando de Noronha used to say that on the night just before a big storm would come through, right at about midnight, an extremely beautiful woman would appear. She was tall with long blonde hair and completely unclothed, dancing to the sound of the crashing waves. It was only when the lightening flashed would her presence be seen. Her feet looked as if they floating in mid-air, above the sandy shore. According to popular belief, a blonde woman like that could only be German and so she was called an alamoa, a corruption of alemã (German).
Her story always differs but some versions of the legend say she was once the queen of the island and was angered by the fact that humans had begun to live there. Other versions point towards a religious allegory that shows her as the first woman to be betrayed by her husband and from there, she somehow turned into the alamoa, punishing any married men that might come her way. For the men she would attract and seduce, they fell under her spell, seeing her become a skeleton before their eyes. For others, she was just a lost soul, looking for a strong man to help her dig up a hidden treasure.
It is said that she still lives in a place on the island known as Pico rock. On Friday nights, the rock sometimes splits open, revealing a door from which a light emanates. From there, the beautiful alamoa can be seen, dancing to attract her victim. Those that enter would believe they had entered Venusberg, the palace from a German legend of a mountain where the goddess Venus resided. When the men entered the opening in Pico rock, they would soon be horrified by her transformation. Her beautiful and bright eyes would become two dark holes and her head would become a ghastly skull. Right then, the rock opening would slam shut and the poor soul inside would never be seen again, though his screams could be faintly heard for the next few days.
Some researchers say the story goes back to the Dutch occupation in the early 1600’s and that her story is a convergence of various mermaid legends. The idea of a supernatural woman that attracts and seduces men, transforming herself soon after, is common and recurring in popular folklore throughout the world, thus, the true origin is virtually impossible to determine. Origins aside, I’m not entirely sure I’d want to be caught lurking around at midnight on the eve of a storm. After all, where storms brew, so does trouble.
Originally written for Street Smart Brazil.