Located in the Paria region, Brasso Seco is a rural agricultural community that came to life
around 1905. Brasso Seco is local "patois" (broken French) for "Dry Branch". This referred
to its state up to the early part of this century when it had few inhabitants and was virgin
rainforest; it meant that no agricultural produce came out of here, thus being "dry". This
changed just after the turn of the century when cocoa became the gold of the time. Since the
area was perfect for cocoa-farming estates sprung up, becoming very productive and profitable.
This regime remained until the late sixties when the cocoa market fell drastically and most farms
were abandoned. However, many of the villagers remained, sustaining themselves through farming
In 1996 electricity was brought to the area. This and the introduction of ecotourism to the area
gave the village new life. In October of 1996 Charles Ford offered to sell his land in Brasso Seco
to Courtenay Rooks. He had been trying to sell the land for some time and hoped to sell the land to
someone who was environmentally minded, who would take proper care of it. After viewing the land
Mr. Courtenay Rooks saw this as a golden opportunity, as the land, its rivers, waterfalls, rainforests,
geographical position, and the village were perfect for ecotourism and the development of conservation
projects. Courtenay had one problem though, not enough money to purchase all the land, so Courtenay
and Elizabeth, his wife, purchased a fifteen acre plot from Charles in early December and sought other
investors. Courtenay contacted then Mr. Derek Drayton who eventually purchased a five-acre plot. Then
he Dr. C. James Hospedales and his wife Dr. Shelley Hospedales, Mr. and Mrs. Carl and Alison Vaughan, and
finally Brian and his wife Sherry Vaughan all purchased parcels of land. In purchasing the land they
bought into Courtenay's idea of using the land sustainably for ecotourism and conservation, with a sense
of community responsibility. Since then, this project has gained momentum, and though it is small, the
ripple effect it has had is tremendous. The Ministry of Tourism is now using the project as a model for
ecotourism and community tourism in Trinidad.
The villagers are a mixture of Amerindian, Spanish, French, British, African and more recently,
East Indian, origin. The population comprises roughly 230 households and 600 residents. Farming
is their main economic activity. The villagers are simple, hard working and generous country people.
They are pleased to accept you into their community and homes, however you must be kind and courteous.
Festivals and activities
The two main cultural events in Paria are Christmas and Harvest Festival. The main religion is
Catholicism. Music and customs date from the days of Spanish colonialism. A type of music called
Parang is played at Christmas by "Paranderos", who go from house to house singing of the Virgin Mary
and Jesus. The songs are all in Spanish and the atmosphere is very festive. The Harvest Festival is
held annually in May. Many of the villagers from along Trinidad's North coast gather in Paria to
thank God for the harvest. It is also an opportunity for the priest to bless the produce and the
people to meet together, eat, drink and socialize.