Every child remembers going to at least one field trip during their primary school career to the Lopinot Historical Complex. Very little stuck out in my head from these trips. I couldn't remember how far it was (further than expected) or how long it took to get there (longer than expected). I forgot what I did when I got there. Not being the most physically active child (okay, adult, person. As I write this post I am actually procrastinating going to the gym), I couldn't imagine strapping on a pair of sneakers and kicking a ball down on the football fields. So when Kyle and I got there, a couple of weeks ago, though the former estate was devastatingly beautiful and meticulously maintained (seriously that first shot doesn't even look real to me and I was there!), pretty soon after we snapped a couple of pics, I kind of thought, "Okay soooo, what now?" I had not packed a lunch of multi coloured cheese paste sandwiches as I undoubtedly had when I was seven. I was unprepared.
One thing miniature primary school-sized Nervous Nancy did remember, however, was ghosts. Each time we were taken to Lopinot in our yellow band maxis we were regaled by tales of the phantom of the cocoa plantation owner riding through the estate and neighbouring towns on a spectral horse.
NOTE: Somehow, in my memory I conflated this story with Sleepy Hollow's Ichabod Crane and the ghost became headless. I found no evidence of this in my research. By all reports, the ghost does indeed have a head. I also have never read Sleepy Hollow. Lol.
Anyway, up at Lopinot, we had no tour guide, and the "museum" didn't provide much information in the way of ghost stories. So I had to revert to my old friend the Internet to refresh my memory of the legends that surround the plantation. Apparently, as the story goes, the Count of Loppinot, after whom the area and plantation are named (the museum is his former house), wasn't the most lovey dovey slave owner (as so many were?) when he established his plantation in 1800. Apparently the cashew tree where he hanged his slaves is said to bleed their blood, and Lopinot himself is said to ride through the village on stormy full moon nights. There is even a soucouyant thrown into the mix.
So strong is this ghost story that apparently, Ghost Hunters International came to film an episode at the plantation in 2011! Please avail yourself of the comments of some Trinidadians on said episode:
We. Are. Hilarious. I do agree though, this type of international exposure does draw a new wave of interest to our lesser known tourist sites. However, I also believe that it's our job to carry on the awareness of these places domestically.The Lopinot ghost stories are an important part of our oral tradition that are slowly fading out. I hope that primary schools are still taking their students here so that they can not only experience the beauty of the area, and the freedom of running kinda wild in the recreational grounds, but also to carry on the stories of our history.
Photography: Kyle Walcott Photography