Coordinates: 17°58′36″N 66°06′51″W
Favorably located between the Jobos Bay and the Caribbean Sea, Casa Pura opens its doors to those who prefer to sleep as if at relatives'. It has no signs and not everyone in the Pozuelo village in Guayama knows it yet. We came as per my sister’s suggestion, as she knows one of the proprietors, and intrigued by its existential tourism proposal. The Crespos (Gustavo and his dad, don José) have chosen to promote themselves lightly and only among those who can say good-bye to a five stars hotel in exchange of a simpler and more personal stay. They welcomed us, machete in hand: ready to serve us some refreshing coconut water!
Casa Pura was the beach house of Gustavo's grandmother, who loved receiving and entertaining people. That's why they kept adding rooms and spaces to the house; and the walls are full of pictures and articles that reflect the gratitude of her guests. The hostess is not around anymore, but there is don José, who likes to tour the house and share anecdotes and histories on every piece that decorates it.
A cozy ambiance
Oil lamps, books, pictures, sculptures, ceramic pieces, pillar beds in its four visitors rooms and the direct lullaby of the sea, like background music, give Casa Pura a cozy ambiance. We even found a copy of the story Celita and the Zapatero Mangrove by Ana Lydia Vega, which up to this moment, was my son’s only reference to the town of Guayama!
Lotus flower and acerola
Adding to the delight of this four acres property is a garden full of surprises. A typical hammock hangs on a calm shade and invites to take a siesta. Swimming pools turned into ponds full of lotus flowers where the tadpoles have found a home. An old swing turned into a cross-fit style training area, a reflection of Gustavo’s old job as a physical trainer. A few stairs built in bamboo that lead to the beach and suggest a walk in the evening. An extensive variety of local fruit-bearing trees such as: Spanish lime, cashew apple, loquat, cherimoya, sour sop fruit, passion fruit, and West Indian Cherry.
Bed & Breakfast
To eat fruits, fresh from the courtyard, was one of that experiences I enjoyed the most, as I grew up in a neighborhood where the streets were named after fruits, some of which I had not yet flavoured. Casa Pura operates under the Bed and Breakfast concept, therefore for Gustavo it is very favorable to have such fruit variety at his reach, since he uses them as ingredients in the delicious and nourishing shakes he offers as part of the breakfast.
The Crespos like to recommend sights and restaurants in the area. We were lucky to coincide with a crafts festival at the beautifully preserved town square. We walked it thru to admire its elegant structures. We also tasted different flavors, like pineapple, lemon and the traditionally raspberry with sesame pilones. Then we sat down in a square bench and listened to the troubadours singing on stage.
For its closeness and a pleasant recent visit, Gustavo insisted that we should go to Coamo's Thermal Baths. After taking pictures, buying fruits in street side kiosks and asking for directions, we arrived at our destination. The famous Baths are divided in two areas: the hotel (with a regular swimming pool and a thermal waters one with temperatures of a hundred and seven grades farenheit) and the Thermal Water Pools (one with temperatures of a hundred and seven grades farenheit and another with a moderate temperature of ninety-nine grades). The areas are completely different in terms of ambiance: at the hotel is like a family holiday while in the water pools predominates a sensation of relaxation and well-being.
Another suggestion they made was to visit the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Aguirre, only about five minutes away. Gustavo accompanied us thru the paths that make up the reserve, guided us to its observation tower and proposed a kayak trip that would bring us closer to the mangroves’ forest. This type of coastal forest helps to prevent coastal erosion, among many other benefits. In Puerto Rico there are four species of mangrove trees: red, black, button and white.
Just Like Home
Upon return from our excursion, we rode the mountain bikes the Crespos have in the property. Don José also delighted us with a private concert using his extensive vinyl disc collection. With his favorite version of the Preciosa song playing in the background, we said goodbye to two nights of unique experiences at Casa Pura.
Conscious Travel Practices:
1. Support local merchants.
2. Choose sports that have low environmental impact.
3. Explore nature while respecting its integrity.
4. Try regional fruits and foods.
Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Aguirre
Casa Cautiño Museum
Termal Water Pools Coamo