|History of San Fernando Hill |
Sunday, November 18 2012
The San Fernando Hill is also known as Ana Parima (or Anaparima) which is Amerindian for “a single hill”.
Geologists say that it is a cretaceous outcrop among tertiary rock formations, a unique occurrence in Trinidad and Tobago. Perhaps this is the reason why the Amerindians regarded Anaparima as a sacred place of worship. The Warao Indians who still live in the Orinoco delta, canoed their way across the Gulf of Paria, making an annual pilgrimage to the Hill.
They worship three spirits called Kanabos who live in a sacred mountain top world which holds up the sky.
Anaparima is said to be the abode of Waro Waro, the supreme spirit, whose emblem is the butterfly. These pilgrimages were made as late as the turn of the century. Charles Kingsley, in 1869, described the startling phenomenon of the naked Indians landing their canoes and walking through San Fernando, disappearing into the green hill, emerging a few days later and disappearing over the water as silently as they came.
According to Peter Harris, the earliest reference to the Hill is to be found in Sotomayer’s map of 1574.
Michael Anthony quotes Sir Walter Raleigh in 1595, “And we came upon the mountain forte called Anaparima.” Governor Lord Harris, 1846-1845, often took visitors to the Hill and built 400 steps leading a good way up. Cazabon’s famous painting of the Hill is dated 1840
And as far back as 1846, there is a report of blasting and quarrying on the Hill by Mc Farlane, a hardware store owner on Pointe-a-Pierre Road. He sold the gravel to the San Fernando Borough Council who were themselves quarrying, but who considered taking action against him.
Through the years this same material laid the foundations of road development in the town of Caroni. The soothing emerald green forest gave way to a bleak denuded rock face, a glaring sore to their eyes, and the choking dust of the dry season gave way to streets awash with eroded gravel in the rainy season.
From as early as 1876, the Governor Longden was suggesting a beautification programme and Mayor Guppy was making plans accordingly. They were long in the making.
And so, through the years, the battle waged, futile, until through the efforts of the San Fernando Citizen’s Action Committee, the Hill became a cause celebre and at last Cabinet minutes dated May 19, 77, stipulated the acquisition of 16 acres, one rood, 30 perches of land from private owners. By March 1988 quarrying had (supposedly) stopped!
POINTS TO NOTE
It is a geological isolate displaced from the general formation which underlies our Central range.
To the Warao Indians of the Orinoco Delta, this hill has been sacred northern “world mountain” since the beginning of time. It is home to one of their supreme spirits and also to their ancestor- hero, maker of the first canoe.
Early navigation charts show it as a marker facilitating safe entry into the San Fernando harbour.
In 1980, the Forestry Division of the Ministry of Food Production, Marine Exploitation, Forestry and the Environment classified this hill as a natural landmark in the National Park Systems Plan. This Park, therefore, will forever preserve our ancestral link to this Hill and to the town of San Fernando de Naparima.