The known history of Haiti begins on the 5th december 1492 when Italian explorer Christopher Columbus made landfall on a large island in the middle of the western Atlantic Ocean. Previously unknown to outsiders, it resided in a geographical region that would soon come to be named as the Caribbean.
For the navigator-cum-adventurer – a man who would live on in history – the discovery proved momentous; for the indigenous people and kidnapped Africans who would labor there a few hundred years later, it was the beginning of untold horrors.
Little wonder, then, that Haiti is today considered to be one of the most haunted nations on earth. Criminally poor and repeatedly stricken by natural disasters, inadequate aid responses, and corrupt governance, it has a sad history and an arguably difficult present.
Yet one area that has seen an upturn in recent times is paranormal tourism. Practiced by those with an interest in the occult and supernatural, it has seen large numbers of people flock to some of Haiti’s most haunted spots.
For those with a belief in the afterlife, the thought of life after death can be hugely comforting. Indeed, there are many who get in touch with companies wich specialize in psychic chat and clairvoyance. Offering the opportunity to commune with lost loved ones, these entities can provide an incredibly moving and cathartic experience.
The ghosts that are said to haunt Port-au-Prince, however, are not so benign. While every Caribbean island has its share of cemeteries, one of the most famous resides in Haiti’s capital city. Renowned for the degree of paranormal activity that is said to take place here, it’s a favorite spot for ghost hunters from across the globe, who especially like to visit at night, when the world around them is dark, quiet, and suitably inviting for the undead.
The Island of Turtuga
Located close to Haiti is another smaller island: the legendary Tortuga. Once the haunt of pirates and cutthroats, it has a long and bloody history, and there are those who believe that its most infamous inhabitants have never truly left.
Many paranormal tourists visit for this reason, injecting money into the local economy in exchange for hearing dark and terrible tales. While some believe that there is still pirate loot hidden on the island, most are more interested in seeing the ghosts of the many executed seafarers who are said to wander the streets come night.
As the oldest district in Port-au-Prince, Bel Air is also an area of interest, but not because of its reputed ghosts. A place where voodoo is still said to be widely practiced, it acts as a hotspot for those who want to witness these traditional ceremonies carried out.
In response to this demand, there are those within the community who acquiesce, putting on elaborate shows for tourists which tend to draw large crowds. These offer an insight into this unique religion, which combines elements of West African, Arawak Indian, and Roman Catholic beliefs, and is intrinsically linked to the idea of spirits and the afterlife.
Importantly, this attracts much-needed money to the area, so that both locals and paranormal tourists alike get a real degree of satisfaction from the experience.
While Haiti may have a sad and tragic history, the days to come undoubtedly have the potential to be far brighter, and it may yet be the nation’s many ghosts that bring about this change. With overseas tourism very much driven by the island’s unique culture and ways, there would be a beautiful irony if its terrible past helped Haiti to build a better and more productive future.