Jayuya, a town that lives

Coordinates: 18°13′07″N 66°35′30″O

In our visit to the town of Jayuya, we were impressed to see how its urban area is very lively and how the majority of the buildings are well kept. With the construction of big shopping malls and neighborhoods, the urban areas of many towns of the island have been abandoned. However, the town of Jayuya is another story. There are many businesses open, the plaza and its surroundings are impeccable, many of the buildings are very well kept, and many people are seen in the streets.

Cemí museum of history and archeology.  Photo: Pamy Rojas

Cemí museum of history and archeology.  Photo: Pamy Rojas

Indigenous inheritance

Jayuya is called the indigenous capital for the numerous discoveries of this culture that have been found in this area. Its indigenous monuments characterize this municipality of the Central Mountain Range of Puerto Rico, such as the La Piedra Escrita (Written Stone), La Piedra Tibes (Tibes Rock), La Tumba del Indio (Indian’s Tomb) and El Mural Indígena (Indigenous Mural).  Also, in the museum El Cemí, archeological pieces of this culture can be found. The town’s name comes from Hayuya, a cacique or chief of an indigenous tribe that dominated the region.

The heritage of this town also integrates the Corsican families, the Andalusian horses, the tomatoes, and the nationalist revolts. Jayuya is the crib of the Nationalist Revolt of October 30, 1950. For this reason, through this town, signs of the Ruta Blanca Canales Torresola (Route Blanca Canales Torresola) can be seen; which are the six most relevant points of this event.

Like many of the towns in Puerto Rico, the church is in front of the plaza. Photo: Pamy Rojas

Like many of the towns in Puerto Rico, the church is in front of the plaza. Photo: Pamy Rojas

The urban area

In our journey through the urban area, we visited the church, with its splendid stained-glass windows, where the sunrays filter through the multicolor glass. Dozens of trees circle the Plaza, wraps with its shadow those that sit beneath to rest. From the plaza, we walked up to the bust of the Hayuya Indian, which was the first monument built in Puerto Rico to honor an Amerindian. 

This indigenous symbol represents the sun. Photo: Javier Vélez Arocho

This indigenous symbol represents the sun. Photo: Javier Vélez Arocho

The little plaza of antiques

When we left the urban area we found a small and picturesque merchant plaza. The Total de Enrique, a small version of a merchant’s plaza, not only has desirable fruits and splendid vegetables, but also has old objects that could easily be found in a museum. We traveled to the past when we saw kerosene quinqués (lanterns), Schaeffer beer cans, radios, old clocks, irons that worked with coal, metal milk pitchers, retro telephones, Olivetti typewriters, and a brass cash register.

Fruits and vegetables in the Total de Enrique. Foto: Pamy Rojas

Fruits and vegetables in the Total de Enrique. Foto: Pamy Rojas

Sugar cane

Don Enrique, the robust septuagenarian peasant, kindly invited us to try a sugar cane. With his very sharp machete, he cleaned the stalks of the cane so that we could suck it. The cane’s juice is deliciously sweet and to savor again the cane gave us a flashback. It reminded us of the times when our grandfather took us through the countryside and we sat in the back of his pick-up truck while seeing him cut sugar cane pieces, so that we could entertain ourselves for a while extracting all of its juice.

El Total de Enrique has an infinite amount of antiques. Photo: Pamy Rojas

El Total de Enrique has an infinite amount of antiques. Photo: Pamy Rojas

That tastes like coffee… coffee

After sweetening our palate with the sugar cane, we decided to visit a coffee estate. The visit to Hacienda San Pedro was a must. We wanted our children to learn the process of making coffee and to see the museum that was built there.  The history of Hacienda San Pedro started when, in the late nineteenth century, the young Spaniard Emeterio Atienza came to the island. After working as a butler and foreman in various coffee estates (1930), the also teacher of agriculture bought a farm in the Coabey neighbourhood of Jayuya. After four generations, Roberto Atienza currently maintains Hacienda San Pedro.

The coffee of Hacienda San Pedro is a handcrafted product. Photo: Pamy Rojas

The coffee of Hacienda San Pedro is a handcrafted product. Photo: Pamy Rojas

The sound of the coffee

The coffee cultivated in this place is handcrafted, as it is grown, harvested, and elaborated by hand. The method of drying the coffee is the same one used more than a century ago in the farm, with old bass drums and extreme supervision. When the coffee is ready, it makes a distinctive sound that only an expert’s trained ears can distinguish.

Hacienda San Pedro has an area to taste its product, which we did. Also, the upper level has a Coffee Museum where we saw rustic basins, grinders, and other antique objects that were used in the coffee estates.

The coffee cultivated in Hacienda San Pedro is handcrafted. Photo: Pamy Rojas

The coffee cultivated in Hacienda San Pedro is handcrafted. Photo: Pamy Rojas

In the Revolt’s trail

After we learned the coffee-making process, we went to Casa Canales. There we saw the gate where nationalists crossed the day of the Revolution on October 30, 1950 and the Puerto Rican flag swaying alone. Casa Canales is the first spot of the Ruta Blanca Canales Torresola. Afterwards, we continued our journey through the rest of the route.

Casa Canales is currently a history museum and a historical research center. Photo: Pamy Rojas

Casa Canales is currently a history museum and a historical research center. Photo: Pamy Rojas

Spots of the Nationalist Route:

-First station: Casa Canales - museum where objects that were part of the Canales family are preserved and that were part of the nationalist revolt.

-Second station: centenary ceiba- it is believed that from this spot, the organizers of the revolution were watched.

-Third station: Muro de la Revolución mosaic- recreates scenes of the revolt.

-Fourth station: old hotel Riverside- Blanca Canales declared, while hoisting the flag, the Republic of Puerto Rico for almost 48 hours.

-Fifth station: old police station- where Carlos Irizarry and a policeman were shot. The revolutionists burned down the station.

-Sixth station: mail post- like the police station, the post was burnt.

Muro de la Revolución (Revolution Wall). Photo: Pamy Rojas

Muro de la Revolución (Revolution Wall). Photo: Pamy Rojas

If it’s true that the businesses of the urban area of Jayuya are stable, the municipality continues fighting to return to their natural state the last three important highlights of the Nationalist Revolt, so that they are not kept hidden behind shops and businesses. Jayuya is kept alive and prosperous, but always willing to maintain its national historical heritage.


Read more about Jayuya in the stories section.


Conscious Travel Practices:

1. Promote local economy when chossing lodging, restaurants and local business. 

2. Learn about the history of Jayuya and the Puerto Rico's indigenous ancestors, the taínos. 

3. Learn about the coffee making process and the relevance of this type of agriculture. 

4. Enjoy different places without leaving trash behind.


Places of interest:

Bosque Toro Negro

Casa Canales

Cerro Punta

Chimenea Central Santa Bárbara

La Piedra Escrita

Los Tres Picachos

Monumento a Nemesio Canales

Monumento al Cacique Hayuya

Museo El Cemí

Sol de Jayuya

Tumba del Indio


Dining:

Hacienda San Pedro

La Casona

La Ceiba


Lodging:

Hacienda Gripiñas