I just wrapped up an outstanding work-paper, and started reading the news online. And discovered this article in the Trinidad and Tobago Express, about motorists calling for a warning sign on a particular stretch of highway. When I saw the headline – Motorists lobby for warning sign on highway ‘death stretch’ – and from the South Bureau, no less, I just knew.
It wasn’t about a strange bend in the highway, like the one approaching the Freeport exit, and it isn’t a blind corner or steep incline. Oh no.
It is the ghost who haunts the Solomon Hochoy Highway. Come on, all Trinis know this story, or some version of it. You know the place, heading South, past Chaguanas, past Couva, as you are passing Claxton Bay, amid the rolling Central Range hills. Where, your necks would crane Westward, trying to catch a glimpse of the statue among the greenery, terrified if you did, but needing to complete the ritual of a drive to or from Sando, by trying to prove to yourself that the stories were true.
What stories be these? Ah. The poor woman who haunts the highway. Some tales say she was young, and beautiful (well, all tales say that, otherwise, what good would be the tale?) and she was felled by the bite of a snake and her poor grieving father who loved her dear, built a statue in her memory. And his enduring love, and the statue, ensured that she wandered the highway in great winds, blowing cars off course, just at that point, causing accidents and instilling fear in the Trini population. Or, as this report says in the words of a villager:
“People have told me about the image of a woman that sometimes appear kneeling on the road, and in trying to avoid hitting her they often run off the road.”
I have heard tell that the statue was struck with a cutlass, and remained headless, this being the cause of the haunting. Or that there was a jealous lover of someone involved, seething with rage and destructiveness. I do not know. Urban legend? It all seemed so true, so recent as children, but that was so long ago. I believe the statues has even been removed, but still the stories persist. There is one version of the story that incorporates all these elements, meaning it MUST be true!
Stories like the ones my aunt would tell us, swearing it was true, of she and her friends driving home in the night and suddenly, when they reached that point in the road, there would be an extra “passenger”. The shock of that happening to someone driving alone is surely the cause of a car swerving sharply off the road. Not high winds in the area. Or the curve of the road. Or late night, sleepless drivers…no, it’s that poor ghost.
Will the government put up a sign? What will the sign say? “Dangerous Ghost Ahead“? “Unearthly Conditions” “Lookout! Ghost!” or “Ghost Lookout” for the tourism oriented. How about “Don’t swerve to avoid people kneeling on the road” or “Beware people who tell tales that scare“. I am eager to know.
Actually, I am also eager to know what versions of this story prevail. So, do tell.
(And yes, I am aware that the picture above is NOT of the Highway in question. However, it is in the Central Range, and if you follow this road you will end up on the Highway, very near the spot in question.)
26 February 2008: Update – It seems the Government answering the call for warning signs. Some rubbish about cross-winds and whatnots, but I’ll keep an eye out for when they go up in the Claxton Bay area…
21 May 2009: Update – And the saga continues, with the Government experts visiting the highway DURING THE DAY and concluding the accidents are caused by high-speeds and cellphone use…
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