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A FASCINATING ASPECT OF PUERTO RICAN CULTURE IS OUR MIX OF TAÍNO, SPANISH AND AFRICAN HERITAGES. TAÍNO INFLUENCE IS HIGHLY PRESENT IN EVERYDAY LIFE—IN THE USE OF WORDS AND PHRASES AND IN OUR WORLD-RENOWNED ATTRACTIONS. THIS CONTRIBUTION IS HONORED IN A SCENIC TOUR BRIMMING WITH HISTORY: THE TAÍNO ROUTE.

By ¡Qué Pasa! Staff

While vacationing in Puerto Rico, make sure to include this magical journey that will take you through several towns. We recommend that you wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

People who have enjoyed this unique tour recommend starting off in Arecibo and ending it in Ponce. There are two options: you can devote three consecutive days to the entire tour or you can visit each town individually. Go back to the days of Taíno splendor by exploring the towns that are part of this new route:

Arecibo

This municipality on the island’s northern coast owes its name to indigenous chieftain Arasibo, as this is the region where he once resided. Located less than an hour from the San Juan-metropolitan area, it is a destination you must consider. Some of the attractions you will find while touring this region include:

Cueva del Indio Natural Reserve – This coastal underwater reserve has a cave that features the largest concentration of petroglyphs in Puerto Rico. We advise caution because it is a rocky and steep area—so it is not recommended for visits with children. Endorsed tour-guide services are highly recommended to enjoy one of the most spectacular views in Puerto Rico. You will find a list of providers at the end of this story. Located on PR681 at km 8.1.

Arecibo Lighthouse & Historical Park – Featuring an indigenous village replica, this theme park highlights Puerto Rican culture. It has a water park and a small aquarium. The breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean is one of its biggest attractions. Located at the intersection of roads PR681 and PR655 / 787-880-7540 / www.arecibolighthouse.com

Viejo Caney Abacoa (Old Abacoa settlement) – This is the ancient settlement where Chief Arasibo lived. It overlooks the mouth of Río Grande de Arecibo.Located on José de Diego Ave., Del Abacoa Square

Monument to the Indigenous Fisherman (Indio Pescador) – Situated at the entrance to Río Grande de Arecibo bridge, the site pays homage to an indigenous fisherman. Located on PR2

René Marqués Museum of Art & History, Archaeological Hall – It is home to a collection of indigenous artifacts found in archaeological sites in Arecibo. Open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday by appointment only. Located at 298 Santiago Iglesias Ave. / 787-510-6529 / 787-333-1063, extension 1500

Ventana Cave – This cave system, whose tour includes Cueva Clara, has petroglyphs and indigenous trails, in addition to one of the most breathtaking views on the island. Located on PR10 at km 75 / 787-322-3554

Río Abajo State Forest – The tour includes a walk along the ancient indigenous forest trails and a visit to a cave with petroglyphs. Groups larger than nine people require permits from the Department of Natural Resources. Located on PR10 at km 4.4 / 787-999-2200, extensions 5612 or 5613

Utuado

This mountain town in central Puerto Rico is named in honor of Chief Otoao, whose name means “between mountains.” The following attractions are a true reflection of the Taíno heritage in Puerto Rico:

Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Center – It is the most important attraction within the Antilles. It has a museum displaying archaeological artifacts and a handicrafts shop. It also overlooks the iconic Mount Cemí, a sacred mountain of the Taínos. Open Monday through Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Located on PR111 at km 48.7 / 787-894-7325

Río Tanamá National Park – An exotic adventure and nature tourism experience. It includes river rafting, caves with petroglyphs, indigenous trails, and a heavenly landscape. Reservations required. Located on PR111 at km 48 / 787-484-3860

Piedra Salto de los Morones Petroglyphs – A petroglyph mural near Río Grande de Arecibo. Touring the river requires caution. Located off PR10 / 787-894-3460

Yacimiento Batey de Salto Arriba – It was an ancient indigenous village where a unique geoglyph in the West Indies stood. Resembles the Nazca lines in Peru. It features a stone wall showing the famous Utuado Sun petroglyph. Located at the University of Puerto Rico, Utuado Campus, PR123 / 787-894-2828

Monument to Don Alonso Chieftain – Built in honor of Otoao, the indigenous chieftain of Utuado whose name means “between mountains”. The name of this municipality derives from his. Located at the Utuado Public Square / 787-894-3460

Jayuya

Also known as the “Indigenous Capital of Puerto Rico,” its name is derived from the Taíno word Hayuya. Visit the following attractions to complete your vacation experience:

Nemesio R. Canales Square – Here you will find the monument to chief Jayuya, the Jayuya Sun mural, and First Tomb of the Puerto Rican Indigenous Inhabitant. 787-828-1241

Jayuya Cultural Center – Its indigenous artifacts exhibition hall is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Located at 25 San Felipe St. / 787-828-2220

La Piedra Escrita Recreational Area – Here you will find the monumental stone that features a mural of significant petroglyphs. While in the area, take a dip in Saliente River and also try delectable local dishes. Located on PR144 at km 2.3 / 787-828-1241

Maboití Arts & Culture Center – It is the home of Cemí Museum where archaeological artifacts can be seen, as well as the first Taíno burial site that includes an indigenous ancestor’s tomb, bateyes (patios), and a shop selling handicrafts. Enjoy the breathtaking view of Tres Picachos Forest. Open Monday through Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Located in the Coabey district on PR144 / 787-828-1241

Zama Mural – See petroglyphs with the iconic Jayuya Sun at the highest point in Puerto Rico, Cerro Punta. An appointment is required to tour the area. Located on PR527 at km 9.3 / 787-718-1838

Adjuntas

This town in Puerto Rico’s central mountain region is known for its coffee plantations and pleasant temperature during this season. The following attractions feature clear indigenous elements:

Batey Vegas Arriba and Bosque del Pueblo – An indigenous courtyard overlooking a forest that offers a spectacular view. Appointment required. Located at Casa Pueblo / 787-829-4842

Adjuntas Sun Mural – It re-creates petroglyphs depicting the Adjuntas Sun. Located at Arístides Moll Boscana Square / 787-829-3310

Ponce

Puerto Rico’s second-largest city is also known for its Taíno heritage.

Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Center – It is one of the oldest and most important indigenous archaeological sites in the Caribbean. It has a museum with archaeological artifacts found on-site. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Located on PR503 at km 2.5 / 787-840-2255

EXPERTS AT YOUR SERVICE

Do not miss a detail of our indigenous culture by requesting a guided tour from our expert operators:

Anthony Negrón
939-640-8080
negronanthony79@gmail.com

Armando Navarro
787-934-9373
anavarropr@gmail.com

Clemencia Cepeda
939-244-7911
clem_cepeda@yahoo.com

Frankie Aponte
787-309-9826
frankie@prtourdesk.com

Gonzalo de León
787-377-6911
papalion@gmail.com

Hiram Sánchez
787-649-6112
hisama1953@gmail.com

Héctor Negrón
787-529-9567
negron.hjose@gmail.com

Israel de la Rosa
787-638-2301
idelarosa25@yahoo.com

María del Valle
787-405-0032
mariamdelvalle@gmail.com

Maritza Villanueva
787-955-7621
sol_arena21@yahoo.com

Rafael Quiles
787-612-7150
caribe787@msn.com

Rubén Ramos
787-903-7708
pepekotours@gmail.com

Víctor M. Martínez
787-605-1269
martinezv682@yahoo.com

Wilma Ríos
787-661-1402
wilriosb@gmail.com

TAÍNO CURIOSITIES

• Puerto Rico is known worldwide as Borinquen—which is derived from the indigenous word Boriken, which means “great land of the brave and noble lord.”
• Another place-name used to refer to Puerto Ricans is “Boricua”—which for the Taíno inhabitants meant “brave people of the Sacred House.”
• Nearly half of the names of the island’s municipalities have an indigenous origin: Arecibo (Arasibo), Jayuya (Hayuya), Utuado (Otoao), and Luquillo (Lukiyo), just to mention a few.
• The coquí, our tiny frog, is one of our national symbols. In Taíno language, coki means “spirit of the land’s tree.”
• Canoa (small boat) was the first Taíno word adopted by the Spanish language.
• Hamaca, huracán, iguana, piragüa, maraca, and múcaro are some words Puerto Ricans use every day and come from our Taíno ancestors.
• Our local cuisine has considerable indigenous influence in terms of the names of the ingredients, artifacts, and foods we use: ají, arepa, barbacoa, batata, guanime, and guayo.

LEGEND SAYS…

Archaeologist Norma Medina says there is a legend among indigenous cultures in Mesoamerica (Maya) regarding the destruction of Mother Earth (Atabeyra) by humans at the “end of times.” The “Mujer degollada” (slit-throat woman) petroglyph—the most popular at the Jacanas site in Ponce—is shown as a Taíno symbol of the prophecy about the destruction of nature. Its similarity with the “Mujer de Caguana” (Woman of Caguana) petroglyph in Utuado shows how much Taínos loved and venerated nature.

 

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Where to Stay

The Taíno Route provides an opportunity to discover some of Puerto Rico’s most beautiful landscapes. That is why we recommend you set aside at least three days in which to live a unique experience. Enjoy the wonders of the mountain region by staying in one of the facilities recommended below. This will allow you to visit other attractions brimming with beauty.

Arecibo
Caño Tiburones Guesthouse
158 Julián Sánchez St. / Calle Julián Sánchez #158
787-563-0062
www.facebook.com/ctguesthouse/

Utuado
Hotel Casa Grande
PR612 / Carretera 612
787-894-3939
www.hotelcasagrande.com

Centro Vacacional Lago Caonillas
PR140 at km 27.9 / Carretera 140, km 27.9
787-814-7005

Jayuya
Hacienda Gripiñas
PR527at km 2.5 / Carretera 527, km 2.5
787-828-1717
www.haciendagripinas.tripod.com

Adjuntas
Parador Villas de Sotomayor
PR522 at km 0.2 / Carretera 522, km 0.2
787-829-1717
www.facebook.com/ParadorVillasSotomayor/

Ponce
Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort
1150 Caribe Ave. / Avda. Caribe #1150
787-259-7676
www3.hilton.com

Holiday Inn Ponce & Tropical Casino
3315 Ponce Bypass / Ponce Bypass #3315
787-844-1200
www.ihg.com/holidayinn

Hotel Bélgica
122 Villa St. / Calle Villa #122
787-844-3255
www.hotelbelgica.com

Hotel Meliá
75 Cristina St. / Calle Cristina #75
787-842-0260
www.meliacenturyhotel.com

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