One older woman perched on a boulder beside the falling water, mist billowing over her thick, dark robes. I saw her lips moving in endless speech as she tilted her head back and poured a white liquid over her face and down her jacket. Several other people stood beneath the falls (which we realized later was a very strong current of water) and chanted loudly in prayer while washing themselves in a combination of milk and water. These substances represent purification of the body and soul.
After asking a few locals, we realized these were the Spiritual Shouter Baptists, known particularly in Trinidad and Tobago (a country which banned the practice in 1917 and later repealed the ban, giving the Spiritual Baptists their own national holiday on March 30th)! Spiritual Baptists consider themselves to be Christians with elements of traditional African religion. It was brought to Trinidad by the "Merikens", former American slaves.
The woman in the long gown was a regal sight to behold. She walked with a large stick, its wood rough and oddly shaped. Despite her tiring limbs, her movements had great purpose and strength. She kindly explained to us curious travelers what her practices meant, describing the water and milk as purifying sources to the body and the Baptist hymns, the "moaning", as a way of fasting… feeling the power of the Holy Spirit.