There's something strange in the neighbourhood. Who you gonna call? Ghost Hunters! GHI (Ghost Hunters' International and SYFY Channel)-the team comprising Barry Fitzgerald and Kris Williams-recently documented paranormal activity in the Lopinot Valley.Their local counterparts Paranormal Investigation Team Trinidad (Pitt) lead investigator Fernando Rodas and President of the Lopinot Community Council Dona Mora aided their investigations around the Legend of Comte De Lopinot. On Wednesday, Rodas and Mora said that Lopinot was catapulted onto the international stage via a documentary which would air on July 13 at 9 pm, and on Chacachacare on July 20. Lopinot hung on a pedestal as one of the best places they ever investigated. Priding himself on being a ghost hunter, Rodas said: "Imagine little old Lopinot will be on the world stage. That is great marketing for T&T. That is great for Lopinot. "In the whole history of the show, they said they got more evidence there than anywhere else in the world about paranormal activity."
Sworn to secrecy
Both Rodas and Mora agreed Lopinot was fertile territory for paranormal activity-which means anything that is inexplicable. For example, noises in the attic, doors shutting and closing by themselves. The activity must be labelled bizarre, out-of-this-world and strange. Reflecting on the mountain of interest in Lopinot, Rodas said he had made an intervention when media reports surfaced about children being attacked by spirits at Moruga. Moruga also laid claim to being the hometown of the late Papa Neeza. Rodas said: "GHI heard about it. SCYFY read the story and contacted me. (December 2010). I am not discounting what the witness said. They are convinced there were spirits and obeah. If it was paranormal, it did not show itself to me. I would be happy to come down and help." Rodas added: "They wanted to know about my organisation. I came up with two other locations...Lopinot and Chacachacare, simply because there was nothing going on in Moruga. Chacachacare is one of the places with the most paranormal experiences in Trinidad." When the documentary premieres, Rodas will be featured in Chachachacare along with members of his paranormal group. Putting her fingers on her lips, Mora said: "I am sworn to secrecy. We had to sign documents. All I can say is they got stuff they have never known or recorded before.
"The bonanza was a lot of paranormal evidence they have never seen before."
CAPTION: Paranormal investigator Fernando Rodas and Donna Mora, president of the Lopinot Village Council gush about Compte de Lopinot legend being on the SCYFY channel. Photos: Dilip Singh
Captivated by Lopinot
Lopinot residents are immensely proud of the picturesque village which serves as the venue for May Cross celebrations. Thus it was not surprising that the show's producers were smitten by this pristine neck of the woods. Rodas said: "The producers came down and wanted to see beautiful Lopinot. They found it was a beautiful location. They thought they would do the show there." Without hesitating, they called the network and brought down their state-of-the-art equipment for filmmaking. Roaming the Lopinot landscape, they captured both daytime/nightime shots of the caves and cemetery. Wallowing in Lopinot hospitality, tour guide Martin Gomez and resident Mikey Plaza furnished them with a treasure trove of information. As legends unfold, particularly via oral traditions, the storyline extrapolates. Mora painted as accurate a picture as she could about the strange incidents in the Lopinot Valley. She said: "About 100 slaves had died under Compte de Lopinot. Some of them died cruel deaths and their souls are not at rest. A lot of the villagers experience strange activities. They complain they feel a heavy presence. Ghost hunters investigated it. Carib artifacts were found around the cemetery. It suggests there might have been a little village on the cemetery plot."
Paranoia replaces paranorma
Rodas has had his fair share of wild goose chases and speculation. "People would call and say they hear noises in the attic. They are wondering if it's ghosts. I would go to those people's homes to try to find out things. When someone doesn't see anything, especially in a superstitious place like T&T they say 'there is a ghost or spirit in the house'. It's just your imagination at work." Rodas got a call from a woman in Gasparillo-only to discover "creatures of the night." I said: "Lady, you're crazy. There are no ghosts in the house. "It's just a nest of bats in the ceiling." All was not smooth sailing. While the ocean lapped against the shore, he had "personal experiences in an old abandoned house in Mayaro. Recounting the night, Rodas said: "First night nothing...second night nothing... third night...I was touched by something."
Compte de Lopinot Historical Complex beckons domestic and international tourists. Photos: Dilip Singh
About Fernando Rodas
He was born in New Jersey, USA, but emigrated to T&T ten years ago. He is married to a Trini girl, Candice and has two children Arianna, 10, and Mason, six. He is employed as a project manager for an oil company. He lives at St Joseph Village, San Fernando. Quizzed on his foray into paranormal activity, he said: "I have been doing ghost hunting for a little over two years. I felt it when I was growing up. I lived in a house that had paranormal activity... always sensing and feeling things." As he matured, he developed a keener interest in the unknown. He added: "I just decided to buy equipment that deals with electro-magnetic fields (EMF) metre...That's what ghosts use to manifest themselves. I got digital voice recorders and full spectrum cameras. I bought a lot of nighttime equipment to capture the strange phenomena." His hobby takes him down creaking steps. Admitting his friends think he's crazy to get all excited about ghost hunting, he said: "They get frightened. They won't be caught dead...walking alone. They say, 'Fernando, you're crazy.' I like to walk around and look for spooky things. It gives me a thrill. It's fun." Rodas boasts that his bewitching hour "is around three in the morning." He opined: " I am more afraid of the living than the dead."
• Interested people can contact Fernando Rodas at 785-5433 or at Facebook PITT
• The Lopinot documentary airs on SCYFY on July 13 at 9 pm
• Chacachacare-July 20.
The Compte de Lopinot Complex is now fully operational. Curator Martin Gomez is available to conduct tours.