Zika Puerto Rico

The most common question lately we’ve been getting is about the zika Puerto Rico “situation” and whether or not it’s safe to travel to the island with your loved ones.  We decided to write an article about this topic because much of the “misinformation” and perspectives and false images being portrayed to the world (mostly the United States) that Puerto Rico is almost like a 3rd world country and to be avoided at all costs – and that couldn’t be further from the truth in our estimation.  Allow us to elaborate and we hope that you genuinely make the best and safest decision for your travels to our beautiful island.

First and foremost, while it is true that Puerto Rico is all over the news now for a slowing economy and the government defaulting on the billions of dollars they owe Wall Street (which essentially own the mass media corporations in the U.S. – so connect your own dots even if this parenthesis helps nudge you with what we believe is happening) – the fact is that there are many layers to the truth and how you want to perceive it – specifically your #1 concern  about zika and traveling to Puerto Rico.

Economic War – Help (Travelers) Needed

We’re hearing from some of our sources that since this media frenzy on zika as well as the “default” issue with Wall Street and its media coverage, that it has impacted and hurt the Puerto Rico economy and it’s people even more – with tourism being down as much as close to 35% year over year.  Even 2 Major League Baseball games between the Marlins and Pirates were cancelled by the powers that be which left the country reeling even more in poor publicity.  The media information has a real impact on dollars and jobs in this island, so we’d like for you to see it from another point of view and make up your own mind and not give in to fear.  Just look at the numbers black and white specifically about the zika concerns in Puerto Rico.  If you don’t believe numbers, at least believe Lin-Manuel Miranda from this popular John Oliver clip who is Puerto Rico’s shining light of truth at this moment to the world.  In fact, see the whole economic situation perfectly explained in the full segment.   Truth in numbers:

Zika Puerto Rico – A Perspective Shift From Fear

The Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) currently has a yellow Alert-Level 2 to practice enhanced precautions when traveling to Puerto Rico.  You should go on their website to find out more, but the basics is stating that there are local Puerto Rico mosquitoes that are transmitting the zika virus and spreading it to people and that its “serious enough” that they advise that pregnant women should not travel to Puerto Rico because the zika can be passed to the fetus and cause abnormalities to the baby.  They also state if your male partner has visited Puerto Rico or lives in Puerto Rico that they should abstain from sex or use a condom.

Wow, I even typed that last sentence and it sure does sound scary and make me not want to come to Puerto Rico and I live here! Wait, I’m a male that lives in Puerto Rico with a newborn baby….OMG what should we do?  What we do everyday with the people who live here.  Use common sense and live our lives freely.  Use Off.  Burn Citronella candles.  Eat Puerto Rican food.  Visit awesome places.  Meet friends and family.  Using Off and Citronella is not even done by the vast majority of the people on the island, but hey, it’s good common sense.

The Facts & Numbers

But let’s dig deeper…where’s the outbreak?  Is it a pandemic?  What are the numbers?  What are the facts and REAL probabilities?

The CDC also states that “many people do not get sick” if you do get bit by a mosquito that happens to have the zika virus.  The actual number is 80% of people do not get any symptoms (4 out of 5 people).

Of those 20% of people who do get bit by a specific mosquito that happens to have the zika virus, the symptoms are “mild” and you may not even know that you were even bit.

That leaves less than 10% of those bitten that have something to worry about and will get severe symptoms and feel bad.  Now, we’re not downplaying these symptoms because anybody that has had dengue (another mosquito related virus) knows that feeling this bad isn’t fun at all.  The symptoms can last as much as a few weeks.

However, the CDC in their stats page do paint an odd picture:  As of May 25, 2016, these are the official stats from the CDC page:

  • United States Mosquitoes With Zika in the Entire 50 States (Locally Acquired Cases):  0
  • Puerto Rico Mosquitoes With Zika (Locally Acquired Cases): 903.  (Which means less than one half of 1% of the Puerto Rico population has been brushed with the Zika virus).  3.5 million population and there’s 903 cases which means you must avoid 0.000258% of Puerto Ricans when traveling.

Yet, paradoxically in Travel Related Cases:

  • United States Travel-Associated Cases:  591 Cases Reported – led by New York with 127 and Florida with 121!
  • Puerto Rico: 3 Cases Reported.

Um, stay away from New York & Florida?  Or another way to put it, 40 million combined populations of New York & Florida and there’s 248 current cases which means you must avoid 0.0000062% of New Yorkers & Floridians when traveling to the United States!

The 0.0007122% Movement!

So, will you die if you happen to be that needle in the stack of needles that happened to get bitten by a mosquito (that just happens to have zika) and that you’re in the actual less than 10% that actually feels the symptoms?  1 reported death of a Puerto Rican man in his 70’s who died that had other underlying health complications and that may or may not have died as a result of the zika virus and being bitten by a mosquito.  Out of the 1,404 known cases between the United States and Puerto Rico, that makes the % of those infected that die at 0.0007122%.  This is NOT an outbreak.  This is NOT a pandemic.  This is NOT a reason to be afraid.  You have way more important things to worry about than traveling to Puerto Rico, according to the numbers and real probabilities.

We’re not advocating not to take this counsel from the CDC as advice (albeit extreme advice). Keep it in mind like you would any other factors of life to be scared of (see death chart odds below for some examples) but we are saying that the odds of this happening to you are completely beyond the charts of reason and there’s absolutely no reason for this to stop you from traveling to the island.  Sure is it possible this can happen to you?  Yes.  However if you do travel to Puerto Rico I’d be more scared of getting hit by a falling coconut (250,000,000/1) or any of the other factors you can find below in our fun death chart.  Come and visit us.  We’re dying to see you guys!  Sorry a little humor, but we do smile at life when things seem “a lo loco.”

3 Most Common Misconceptions Answered

1.  Zika is a brand new virus and Puerto Rico is the epicenter.  False.  Zika has been from what we know around and recognized since 1947 in Uganda.  This latest spread of zika has emanated from Brazil and it’s still has relatively low numbers to truly become a national and world worry in comparison to the statistics and numbers and populations we see today.

2.  Puerto Rico is a third world country and I will get the zika virus and just have  a miserable travel experience.  False & True  You may have a miserable travel experience, although we highly doubt it because that part is up to you!  We can help you of course to make the first sentence a truly false statement.  Truly false.  Puerto Rico is full of interesting dichotomies as you’ll see!

3. Are there misconceptions being portrayed in the media with big headlines that defy the viewer/reader NOT to dig deeper into the facts before making rash opinions and decisions – especially ones as important as dreamed of and planned vacations to an island called Puerto Rico?  You tell us.

“But we can recognize the dangers from affective thinking that cause us to worry about some things more than we need to, and worry about some things less than we should. We can recognize and take more seriously the risks that these risk misperceptions can create. We can realize that a little more careful thinking, and just a touch of skepticism about the latest scary claim, even if that means letting the evidence push back against our own values just a bit, could help keep us safer. It’s one of the lessons the Zika panic is offering us — if we’re smart enough to listen.” – David Ropeik – The Washington Post

DEATH ODDS (Or How To Stop Worrying & Love The Mosquito)

It’s simple.  Eat well.  Exercise.  Have gratitude.  If you really want to worry and focus on what matters: The top 3 reasons we die are:  1 – Heart Disease (1 in 6).  2.  Cancer (1 in 7), or 3. Stroke (1 in 28).  Or you can worry about these kinds of things…

Provided by the National Safety Council


The Solution Is Very Simple

Use common sense.  The numbers are way beyond in your favor.  Use Off.  Also Citronella candles – they absolutely work in fending off mosquitoes.  Travel and have fun.




Are You Still Afraid Of Visiting Puerto Rico?



Playa Buye Puerto Rico

Beautiful Blue Waters In SW Coast

Playa Buyé Puerto Rico is also one of the prettiest beaches on the west coast of Puerto Rico. Getting here is a bit of an adventure, however just follow the directions and look for the signs that point towards Playa Buyé. Parking is another mystery sometimes, but hopefully you’ll find the parking at the hotel available and pay the $3 to get in. If not, find a spot outside the gates and make your way in.  This is a pretty short blog post only because sometimes words don’t or shouldn’t describe a place – so you should see it and take it in for yourself if you happen to be traveling near this part of Puerto Rico.  It’s definitely one of our top 5 favorite places in the island.

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The locals of Puerto Rico come to this beach as its not “touristy” at all. Keep in mind that on busy holidays and weekends, however, this beach is absolutely packed with Puerto Ricans doing their own internal vacations. The best time to make it out here is definitely during a weekday morning if you can.

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Playa Buye Puerto Rico – Find Your Spot

Grab your gear and head out towards the beach. We have found that once you get there hike towards your right for about 5-10 minutes for an absolutely perfect oasis of a beach to yourselves. You’ll know your there once you pass the artistic driftwood that makes this landscape picturesque. You know the picture you have as your screen saver at work – wishing you were there? Well, at Playa Buyé, this is exactly where you are. Absolute paradise. Enjoy this spot as long as you possibly can, and get back on the road towards your next destination!


Camino Buye – off of PR 307 KM 4.8


Cabo Rojo Puerto Rico

The longest and furthest trip you can possibly take when traveling to Puerto Rico but with a tremendous pay-off is to visit Cabo Rojo Puerto Rico – specifically Playa Sucia.

The drive down 52 South is in our opinion one of the nicest and most scenic drives you can take in Puerto Rico.

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This requires a roughly 3.5 hour drive so plan accordingly. The idea is to get to Cabo Rojo- the Southwestern tip of the island – to enjoy one of the most awe inspiring beaches and hikes on the island that surrounds Playa Sucia (the name translates to “Dirty Beach” -named probably so the locals can keep this gem to themselves!) You want to arrive early as possible with latest being around 2PM when the sun is not as hot so you can enjoy a good 4-5 hours here hiking, swimming, and of course hopefully seeing some natural sculptures of the oceanside cliffs and rocks.  Ideally, you’d want to book a hotel in the area and explore the west coast.

Cabo Rojo Puerto Rico – Directions To Playa Sucia

Playa Sucia

Ruta 303 Km 12 Península de Morillos, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico



What To Do In Cabo Rojo

The word Cabo means the “headland or endpart” and the word Rojo means “red.” There are many ideas why this area of Puerto Rico is named Cabo Rojo. Some say because of the colors of the salt flats that have a red hue, or because of the rocks/cliffs with their reddish color as well. Regardless, you can also think of the color turquoise blue – the colors of the beach at Playa Sucia.

The great thing about Cabo Rojo is that it definitely does not have a “touristy” feel. This place is absolutely a natural jewel.

As you enter the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge, your first stop is to notice the red/pinkish/blue/and white waters. Drive down till the end of the road on Route 301 & check out the observation tower to get a great view of the salt flats.


The water in this area of Puerto Rico has a higher density of salt and thus is used for salt mining operations. There is an Interpretive Center across the street that can give you more information about salt mining and the logistics behind the operations. Huge holes of land are filled with water until the sun and wind evaporate the water. Salt crystals are formed in the bottom, and later scooped out and put in piles to be shipped for uses around the island. This makes for a pretty cool area to see Cabo Rojo’s majestic contrast in colors!


Playa Sucia (Dirty Beach) – The Best Beach In Puerto Rico

After you visit the salt flats just head down further down the road and drive as close as you can towards the beach. Pack your gear for the day and walk out towards the pristine Playa Sucia (Dirty Beach). Pick a spot (ideally towards the center as probably it has less people and offers the best view) and get settled in and relax after your long car ride.

More likely than not you have gotten here after 1:00 PM so chances are it is too hot to start hiking and thus a perfect time to swim. You’ll notice that the sand is white and very soft, and that the waters are calm and with a clear turquoise color. Almost perfect! Some locals would say that Culebra or Culebrita Island is better. It’s our opinion that this beach is superior, mostly because of the beautiful hiking landscapes that surrounds this beach.

Get settled in, have a swim, get some sun, get your drinks and food on, and wait for the sun to get less hot to begin your hikes and start exploring your surroundings. You’ll notice on the grounds above the limestone cliffs that rise from the ocean is the lighthouse. Each corner of Puerto Rico has a lighthouse (well not exactly the corner but close enough) – and this particular one is the most picturesque. Faro Los Morillos de Cabo Rojo (known locally as El Faro) is typical of the lighthouses you’ll see in Puerto Rico.


When we visited the lighthouse it was being restored and not operational, but hopefully by the time you get there you can check it out. The lighthouse was built in the 1880’s by the Spanish and has been restored many times over the years since. However, what makes this lighthouse interesting is the absolutely breathtaking views from the land on which it sits.

The limestone cliffs overlooking the ocean makes this for a fantastic adventure hike that is completely worth your time and effort. With each step you take the perspective of the landscape changes with incredible view after incredible view.

The ocean winds dazzle and rejuvenate your hike and actually cool you down. Once situated on the beach you want to decide which area to explore (do both if you are not pressed for time and you still have daylight!), you should always orientate yourself with the lighthouse.



Hike Left Or Right?



You have a decision to make as part of your adventure. If you’re facing the beach, hike left or hike right? Hiking left entails heading in the direction opposite the lighthouse, while hiking right is heading straight towards the lighthouse. Both paths have their charm, and the following pages will detail the paths so you can make your decision. We’re guessing you won’t have time to do both since we’ve been here and we had to do the hikes on two separate occasions. So if you’re able to do both – great! But more than likely you will have one choice to make. Go Left? Go Right? Such is the beauty of life. Choices.

Hiking Left










Point # 3 is also a cool spot. When we first did this hike we were lead by two local kids from the area and they showed us things that you wouldn’t think you can do because it looks insane, but you can. We won’t even tell you because we feel they are too dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing and we don’t want anyone getting hurt. If you happen to see locals in this area, just observe what they’re doing and see if you’re up for it. Either way point #3 is an excellent lookout point with crazier rock formations the more you walk along the edge of the cliffs. The further you walk along point #3, looking back at what you’ve hiked the cliffs just seem impossibly high and impressive. Enjoy your time up and here and you can keep walking along the edge of this coastline.   After you’ve seen what you want to see, head back down towards Playa Sucia and get back to your spot.   Why? We feel that hiking Right is where it’s at.


Hiking Right

From Playa Sucia, head towards the lighthouse and look for the path at the end of the white sandy beach that leads up. Make your way towards Point #1 (pictured) which offers a unique perspective of Playa Sucia below as well as other alien rock formations that seem to be coming out of the water.   In fact, we played a game here where you can almost envision the rocks as the foot of some gigantic statue that broke off millions of years ago. See if you can find the “giant”



Another cool spot to walk around in is the Faro Los Morillos de Cabo Rojo (known locally as El Faro) – as mentioned earlier at Point #2. Take some pictures from here and head out towards the main point and highlight of this hike which is definitely Points #3 and Points #4.   The hike to these points should take about 10 minutes – it’s not a long hike at all. From the lighthouse, just follow the path away from Playa Sucia and the lighthouse that hugs the coastline. This is another spot that is typically secluded – especially during the weekdays – and is absolutely one of those “perfect” spots where you can have it to yourselves. As you get near Point #3 on the following page you will know you are there when you see this “hidden gem” – Puerto Rico’s hidden little cove.



This little cove with “the arch” obviously makes for a great spot to take pictures. Getting to the arch and crossing over to take a picture looks far more dangerous in these pictures than what it really is. You’ll find a path around and before you cross you’ll notice you have a pretty wide space to walk across. You would have to be absolutely careless to fall. Regardless, as we always mention in this book, use extreme caution if you’re going to cross the arch to take these pictures. If you fall, the currents here are pretty strong and anything can happen. Use your common sense and judgement. But once you get there you’ll see that it’s safe to walk across and you have nothing else to do but enjoy this spot.


You’ll also notice that there’s a little beach inside this cove. When we were there it looks like the currents were pretty strong, so we don’t recommend swimming in this spot. Once you take your pictures and hang out at this hidden gem, we recommend to head towards Point #4 to have a little beach “to yourselves” and it’s safer to swim.

Point #4 / Staying For The Sunset

Just further down from the hidden gem cove, you’ll head into Point #4. This is where you want to stop and set your gear down and enjoy this little private beach. It’s a good spot to cool down and enjoy a bit of the day as its winding down.

The only things you should be worrying about now (besides where to eat and your logistics to getting back to your hotel) is to ensure you start hiking back with enough time to see the sunset at Playa Sucia.




The hike back should take you no longer than 20 minutes, so make sure you time your hike back to enjoy the sunset from Playa Sucia.

One note about sunsets at Playa Sucia is that both times we were there we noticed that all of a sudden the “sand fleas” come out and start biting. So better to be prepared with “OFF” for this, as they love this time of the day to come out. Regardless, enjoy the end of your day in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. The only thing on your journey now that you are probably thinking of is where your hotel is and where to eat. Logistically, we will recommend some places in the this link so you can stay in the area and keep exploring one of the best spots in Puerto Rico – the west side!


What To Bring For Puerto Rico

Of course the first thing you have to do on what to bring for Puerto Rico is book your flight first. Research your best deals and fly into San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU).  Check out this post for more information before arriving on the island.

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This travel book is geared towards those who want to get in a car and drive and explore the island, so first step is to rent your car! Remember you will spend a good amount of time in car. Make sure it’s comfortable, has good trunk space and gets good gas mileage. Most importantly (in our humble opinion) the most important aspect to ask is if the car has an auxiliary outlet. Why? Well so you can plug in your iPhone/iPad/iPod for the music of course!  If you’re deciding whether to rent a car or use a taxi, check out this post.

Book your hotel!  This is a comprehensive list of most of the best hotels by region with Trip Advisor links to help you make your choice.

Essentials To Pack – What To Bring For Puerto Rico

There are essentials that you are going to need to pack with your suitcase for this trip. Somethings you will have to buy once you land on the island and find a store, however these are the items you should bring with you for this adventure.

iPad LifeProof Case  The book is designed for an iPad or new generation iPhone.  So if you’re going to be traveling with your iPad (especially under the sun/rain and weather conditions) it makes sense to definitely protect your iPad with a LifeProof Case. You’re going to need this book “Puerto Rico Revealed” on your journey as we will give you links and recommendations so you can make “on the go” decisions. It will be a shame if you’ve bought this book, but don’t take it with you on your Puerto Rico journey because you’re afraid to damage your iPad. Plus, remember it will help you with navigation!

This piece of equipment is essential for your travels in Puerto Rico – especially if you want to have this book or smartphone handy as mentioned.

Hiking Bookbag: Stuff a regular hiking bookbag into your suitcase or bring one with you as your “carry on” the plane. Some of the adventures on this 5 Day Trip this will come in handy so you can carry with you your bottles of water, phones, snacks, books, cameras, etc

Day Cooler: Buy or bring a “collapsible” cooler to have in your car for the trip. Make sure they are the types of coolers with straps so you can take with you on your hikes if possible. It’s better than buying the “foam” coolers in the supermarket and better for the environment if you bring your small day cooler with you.

Headlight/Flashlight: Always a great idea to have a headlight or flashlight in your bookbag just in case! You never know on your sunset hike you may have to hike back in darkness and will be happy you have a light to guide you back.

Auxiliary Cables: We don’t know about you, but this is an essential! Make sure to bring these to plug iPad/iPhone/IPod to listen to your tunes for your drive! Don’t forget your chargers also!

What To Buy Once You’re On The Island (Don’t Pack)

Okay, so you’ve finally landed in the island, rented your car, and checked into your hotel for the night. Sometime before your adventure begins, you must go to a store and buy these essential items to keep in your car for the entire week of your journey. Besides the food/drinks you will need on a daily basis, the following items are absolute essentials to have in your car to be prepared for every situation!

Small Umbrella: Let’s face it. It rains alot in Puerto Rico. One minute the sun is shining, the next it’s raining. That’s life on a tropical island. Not only is this handy to protect you when it rains, but also to provide shade for some of the hikes described in the following pages when the sun could be scorching hot. Ponchos work too.

Water Jugs: Buy 4-5 Water Jugs to leave in the trunk of your car. You’re going to be happy you did so after some of your treks on this 5 Day Adventure. Why do you need these? See #3.

Sneakers That Will Get Dirty/Muddy:

Water Jugs will be used when you get back in your car to wash your feet/sneakers and be clean for the car ride.

Pack / or Buy Sneakers that you don’t mind that get dirty, yet have good traction for climbing rocky and sometimes slippery trails.

Garbage Bags / Plastic Bags from Supermarket:

Very important that you have these in your car. When you get back into your car after a hike, you’re going to want to get out of your wet/dirty/sandy clothes and take off your muddy shoes. You’re going to place all these items in your garbage bags and take to your hotel at night to wash and/or dry overnight.

*Also note on the plastic bags you get after you shop at the supermarket. KEEP THESE! You will use these as Garbage to take with you in your bookbag when you go on your hikes, etc. Even though Puerto Rico can sometimes not be the cleanest of places, let’s not make it worse. Pick up after yourself. The plastic portable garbage bags are important to bring for your hikes.

Ziploc Storage Bags: Put a handful of these in your bookbag. So when you go hiking or go to the beach, the storage bags will protect your car keys, phone, wallet, camera, SD disc, or anything that you don’t want getting wet! Of course a dry bag would do the trick, but this is an inexpensive alternative.

Sunblock: Unless you want to get baked under the sun and be hurting afterwards, strong suggestion is to put on sunblock each day here. The sun is deceptively scorching and you won’t feel burnt till the next day.

Off Insect/Mosquito Repellent: When hiking or going into some of these treks, it’s best to have this ready to go. While most times you won’t have any problems with this 5 Day Adventure, you may sometimes get bothered by some of these critters. Usually happens as the sun is going down – though not always. Sometimes they come out and you need Off badly, other times you can go weeks here in Puerto Rico and not need Off.

Hand Sanitizer: This is absolutely clutch to have in your car once you finish some of the hikes described here. Will hold you over till you get to the hotel and take a nice shower to get clean.

Beach Towels: Buy about 6-7 beach towels that you can rotate during your trip. These beach towels can be used on the car seats as well for the ride back to your next destination. You can usually pick up inexpensive beach towels for as little as $2-$3 apiece at any Walgreens you’re sure to run into along your way.

Flip Flops / Sunglasses: Perfect to throw in your bookbag and have ready. Once your shoes are muddied, throw some flip flops on for the drive back to your next destination.

Change of Clothes: It can’t be stated enough that planning ahead is the key to enjoy your 5 day adventure. That and staying warm and dry and comfortable for your drives around the island. Always keep a change of clothes ready to go at all times – whether dry protected in your bookbag – or in the trunk of your car.

Physical Map of the Island As soon as you get your rental car, make sure you grab one of the physical maps they typically have in the counter. We have found these to be very informative in our travels around the island – as well as directing you WHEN you lose signal for your iPad/Cell Phones to navigate the island. The map above are the ones you can obtain once you get here, however if you want to download a map beforehand check out their website above: The person who created this did an amazing job with the details of this map!

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Google Maps App Since you bought this book, your main source of navigation will be Google Maps since we will provide the direct links to work with your ap right from this book to the destinations described in the following pages. Familiarize yourself with this app and learn the basics before you get to the island.

AutoExpresso To make your drives a much smoother and faster ride, make sure to activate your Auto Expresso tag from your car rental agency. The tag allows you to go through the toll lanes without having to stop. More importantly, most major highways in Puerto Rico have “changeless” tolls – meaning you have to have the Auto Expresso sticker.

Even if you opt out of Auto Expresso when you rent the car, if it has a sticker and you pass through a “cash” lane you will be charged. You could be charged with extra fees from rental agency for no reason. Just save yourself the hassle and make sure to get Auto Expresso for the trip

Gas: Make sure to fill up your gas tank before each of your days on this journey. The island has many gas station options along this 5 Day Adventure Journey. One note about gas is that in Puerto Rico it’s sold/priced/measured in liters.

Good rule of thumb is to multiply the price you see by 4 to get an estimated price per gallon. So when you see the signs that say: 0.98 don’t get too happy! That translates to 0.98 X 4 = $3.92 price per gallon. Keep this rule of thumb in mind to get an idea of your gas costs and where to put gas.

What To Know About Puerto Rico Roads:

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There are lots of POTHOLES! It’s the worst thing we can say about Puerto Rico, and that is there are tons of little annoying potholes on the roads. Don’t worry, the highways usually have nicely paved roads – but we advise you to keep your eyes on the road to avoid these pesky potholes. The potholes just add to your sense of adventure in our opinion.

Also, the next page will detail the road signs and other road “tidbits” as driving in Puerto Rico has its own charm. First and foremost amongst them is that all the signs are in the same “shape” as in the United States, but they are mostly all in spanish.

“It is a rough road that leads to the height of greatness.” Unknown

A note on traffic in Puerto Rico. Most of the congestion on the island is typically heading towards San Juan Monday-Friday from 6AM-9AM. The traffic after work coming out of San Juan is typically from 4PM-7PM. Those are the times to avoid to not hit any major traffic. Be on the defensive when you’re driving in the island, as Puerto Ricans are known to cut people off in lanes and not use turn signals and do crazy U-Turns. Just use common sense on the roads. Most locals do not know by name the numbers of the roads – they typically orientate themselves around landmarks so keep this in mind if you ask locals for directions. “It’s next to the yellow building right where the Columbus statue is – go up 5 blocks and turn at the restaurant. Then its pretty close from there.”

What Type Of Budget Can I Expect To Spend Per Day?

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This is a rough estimate of what you can expect to budget for a 5 Day Adventure. Clearly this budget is based on the most expensive scenario in that you don’t live in the island and you have to fly to get here. It also doesn’t consider that you may know people on the island and don’t have to book 6 different hotels, etc. This budget estimate is based on the worst possible economic impact that this adventure may cost in 2016 dollars.  Here’s how some of the financial logistics may break down on a cost per person (obviously things are different depending on what type of traveler and experiences you want to have).  Let us know if you’d like for us to detail a cost analysis for you.


Airline Flight: $400 x 2 = $800

Hotels: $625 ($125 a night)

Car Rental: $250 ($50 a day)

Food: $500 ($100 a day)

Gear: $200

Excursions: $630

Gas: $200 ($40 a day)

Miscellaneous: $300

Estimate Total: $3,505 – $3,800 Total 5 days

Per Person (2): $1,753 – $1,900 Total



Taíno History Puerto Rico

First and foremost I’m not a “history expert.” I have many great friends that come to mind that can occupy this space much better than me. But I have read the history. I’ve researched the stories. I’ve imagined what it must have been like to be “on the other side of history.”


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This is a super-long post, and those that know me know that I tend to be long-winded but eventually absolutely nail the point (as I’ve been told).  I recently was blessed with a newborn son who is Puerto Rican – and whenever the day comes when he asks me to tell him the story of where he’s from, this is what I would say so you know where you have come from and decide for yourself where you are going…


I have a feel for places, and this is what I see regarding Puerto Rico’s story through my travels (through my eyes of course).  As mentioned, this is not my land. I’m not from here. I’m from Miami, Florida. I have Cuban Roots. This is what I understand about Puerto Rico from traveling this island past 6 years which really feels like the roots of who I am as I write this (for more on this read the book).  There is a connection that’s hard to merely explain in words. It’s what has propelled me for some strange reason to take such a huge portion of my life and write down this story.  It is what has lead me to you.


The Birth of the Taínos – Who The 1st Puerto Ricans Are

They are a part of this world from the Caribbean and live in land of “paradise.” The rivers and mountains and caves are friends in their beliefs and sacred world view. The wind a song in their ears. The visions in the mind’s eye a reality revealed in time. They are the silver cloud’s light shining, while breathing in the beautiful world around. They are a people that gave back to the land with as much patience and virtue that they embody. They are both light and dark and millions of colors in between, and yet they are whirling and still becoming and living within or so it seems (modern DNA tests confirm Taino blood still exists in a % of the population today). They are humble and thankful and blessed to share this story of what’s been, come to be, and yet to be in Puerto Rico’s ongoing story…



Much of what we know about the Taínos is through the eyes of Columbus and the history that was written by the “victors” of Spanish conquest, and later on and in modern times via the United States occupation of the land.

It is not “their story” as history has revealed. The truth of their story is that the Taínos were the people who greeted Columbus and this ¨new world¨ with open arms, only to have been violently decimated in such a fast period of time that it took a quick 30 years from the Spanish first arrival in the 1490´s till the 1520´s where they were virtually wiped away. In two words, it was mass genocide.

It is coming to light many of the truths of that time period with books such as “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies” by Bartolome De Las Casas – a Spanish priest who accompanied Columbus to this new world and spent the remainder of his life writing about the injustices the natives endured at the hands of these new Spanish “conquistadores.”

De Las Casas on first hand witness and through many years of personal experience described the Taínos as: “open and as innocent as can be imagined. The simple people in the world – they are without malice or guile, and are utterly faithful and obedient both to their own native lords and towards any other humans they encounter. Never quarrelsome, they harbor no grudges and do not seek to settle old scores. They own next to nothing and have no urge to acquire material possessions. They are neither ambitious our greedy, and are totally uninterested in worldly power. They are innocent and pure in mind and have a lively intelligence, and a natural goodness that shines through these people that that even some Spanish laymen exclaim that Taínos are “the most blessed people on earth.”

The Taíno people never did the Spanish any harm; on the contrary, they believed them to have descended from the heavens, at least until they or their fellow citizens had tasted, at the hands of these oppressors, a diet of robbery, murder, violence, and all other manner of trials and tribulations.

The Taíno Story – Puerto Rico Revealed

Puerto Rico’s true story of how it all began was with her first indigenous Taíno ancestor people that populated the island from either Mexico or South America over 6,000 years ago. The timeline shows that the Casimiroid People first came about 4000 B.C through 400 B.C. which developed culturally into the Ortoiroid People around 2000 B.C. through 400 B.C. into the Saladoid Peoples from 2000 B.C. till 600 A.D – which evolved into the most recent Classic Taíno period from 600-1500 prior to the Spanish conquest.

In terms of time that the island of Puerto Rico knows people on it, you can see that modern history of Spain and the United States occupies a mere 8% of time (as we understand it) to give some perspective just how dominant the Taíno culture on the land truly is. The timeline shown and theories show that El Caribe (Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, etc) were populated from the south islands in the Orinoco River in South America, or from Yucatan in Mexico from west.


Puerto Rico: The Spiritual Center From the Past

Even though archeological evidence suggests either of the aforementioned migration routes and makes logical sense if you look at a map, there were many generations of Taínos who believed they had originally came from caves in a sacred mountain on the island of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic/Haiti) (Alegria 1978 – see sources in our book). Because historically as seen on the timeline they lived on the land for thousands of years, the Taínos had no recollection of coming from any mainland and maintained in their culture and their beliefs that they emerged from these sacred caves. They expressed these beliefs mythologically as evidenced in many petroglyphs and artwork in sacred caves and landmarks that can still be seen today.

All of the archeological finds and evidence suggests that Cuba, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico were originally settled by small bands of people during the Lithic Age. In 1990 a computer simulation was run to simulate the possible routes of Lithic-age migration, using winds, currents, and other conditions. The conclusions seemed to say that migration from South America would have been the easiest, and traveling from Central America from the Mid-Caribbean islands the most difficult. The route from Yucatan in Mexico to Cuba, which seems to fit archeological evidence, falls between the two extremes.

However it was commonly known around this part of the world from evidence of Taíno beliefs from markings in Yucatan, Cuba, and Hispaniola that Puerto Rico was indeed the spiritual center of all the islands – as it was the balance between the lesser and greater Antilles chain of islands that make up the Caribbean mountain(s) that resides under our oceans.

It seems Puerto Rico was the top of the underwater mountain that lay in the waters from underneath these chain of islands, and thus sacred to many Taínos from the West and East islands – which is why many of them made spiritual pilgrimages to the land from their respective Caribbean islands and freely traded with each other.

Tibes in the south side of Ponce, Puerto Rico seems to suggest this was a meeting place for these travelers who came long distances.

The natives who crossed the oceans towards new lands were brave as it was over 1,500 miles long and at least 350 miles wide at it’s furthest traveling points. It wasn’t easy for the Taínos to get around as they lacked ships, sails, and traveled by hand made canoes.


The chain of islands is divided into 2 parts: The Lesser Antilles in the Southeast form the arc from Trinidad and Tobago to the Virgin Islands.

The Greater Antilles that stretches from the center of the chain of islands of Puerto Rico towards the west with Hispaniola (Haiti/Dominican Republic), Cuba, as well as South Florida and the Bahamas.

Trade was widespread and friendly, as residents of eastern Hispaniola and western Puerto Rico are said to have exchanged daily visits across the Mona Passage (Rouse) and met there daily for exchanges.

Classic Taínos VS Island Caribs

For the most part, Classic Taínos were in peace with neighboring islands. While we’re not implying that the Taínos were perfect (polygyny was prevalent, fought amongst themselves when a rare murder happened, disputes over fishing/hunting rights), they were always on the “defensive” and at war with the Island Caribs – the neighboring islands in the leeward side of the Lesser Antilles (modern day Barbados). They had difficulties fending off attacks from the Island Caribs who came to raid communities with violence with intents of trying to obtain additional wives.

The Island Caribs to the east were the only known skirmishes and battles and fighting against each other that the Taínos encountered prior to the Spanish arrival.

The surrounding islands had different groups or subsets of “Taínos” – all in varying degrees of civilization evolution.

The 5 types of Taínos in the Caribbean are:

Guana-Hatabey in the western portion of Cuba.
The Western  Taínos of Cuba and Jamaica.
The Classic Taínos of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico.
The Eastern Taínos of the Lesser Antilles islands.
The Island Caribs in the South Side of the Lesser Antilles.


Of the 5 types, the Classic  Taínos were the most advanced culturally and were considered to be on the cusp of advancing their society into an advanced civilization – if by advanced you mean having a “written history” that is – as they were advanced in many other facets of living a human life.

Classic Taíno culture has been termed Formative because it was on the verge of civilization. By contrast, the Eastern and Western  Taínos were on a somewhat lower level of cultural development (Rouse – see book source notes).

Cuba had “Western Taínos” and another subset called the Guana-Hatabey. Clearly these islands were linked and united through a huge majority of history.

Life As A Taíno

The Cacique (The Chief / The King)

The cacique was was the chief of the tribe and oversaw an average of 1-2 thousand people that ranged in size from 20-50 houses that were made of wood and thatch.

Both men and women (see Loiza a town in north shore of Puerto Rico) were eligible to serve as chiefs. They organized daily activities, responsible for commodities, acted as hosts when visitors arrived, and owned the most powerful zemis and supervised their worship. They organized public feasts and dances, and sang and and danced with their people. Individuals traced their lineage through their mothers rather than their fathers and a man resided in the village of his mother’s lineage. If he chose a wife from another village, he brought her to his own (Rouse).

The houses were arranged around a central plaza, with the Cacique holding the larger and better made house near the plaza. The Caciques had homes with dirt floors and no partitions between families, but did have wooden platforms or hammocks to sleep on. Their goods were stored in wooden baskets and the chiefs were greeted by guests while they sat on wooden stools, which reminded the Spaniards of a similar greeting towards their King.

The men were physical specimens in incredible shape and were usually naked or covered their privates with small cotton loincloths.

Unmarried women wore headbands, while married women wore skirts.

The Chiefs adorned themselves with gold and feathers, and yet were remembered as having a warrior’s way about their leadership. The lived lives with honor and valor, and their word is gold.

Nature’s Deities – Zemis


The mountains known today in Puerto Rico were known as deities, and some of the more supreme deities were Yucahu which was the spirit of food cassava and the sea, and his mother Atabey – who was the Goddess of fresh water and human fertility.

The worship of deities were known as zemis. Owners kept zemis in their homes and caves and were considered sacred.

The Classic  Taínos used pottery, ornaments, and nature’s artifacts with the figures of zemis and to have painted and tattooed them on their bodies.

They also carved and “painted” outlines of the natural spirits in places where they believed them to live, especially in caves and rocks along streams of rivers or oceans.

Villagers would gather around and sang in praises of zemis, and worked in the presence of priests (shamans) who cured the sick and healed emotional and physical wounds in communion with the zemis and the “other world.”

The petroglyphs at the central courts in Caguana, Puerto Rico identify Yucahu and Atabey.


Activity Area

Life was filled with dances and ceremonies around the central plaza. The dance courts were filled with rocks of embankments of earth and stone slabs were decorated with engravings of zemis. They were placed symmetrically on the grounds.

Events held there ranged from not only dances, but other rituals such as before and after battles, birth celebrations, the marriage of somebody, or the death of a chief. The dancers were usually joined by singers, drumming, and fires.


A sport where the teams were separated into teams of 10-30 players each on opposite ends (like tennis), and alternated serving the ball was called batey.

Players had to keep it in motion by bouncing it back and forth from their bodies and were not allowed to use their hands or feet.

The elasticity of the ball and rubber substance allowed the game to be played in significant and elaborate courts.

The most elaborate ball and dance courts has been found at the Caguana, Puerto Rico site in the mountains in the central/west portion of the islands. The site has revealed Ostionan and Chican pottery dating from lithic ages. This site was originally excavated in 1941 by J. Alden Mason, and was helped to be restored by Ricardo E. Alegria for the Instituto de Cultura Puertoriqueña.




Research indicates that Arawakan-speech communities came into the Greater Antilles and gave rise to the Taíno language. Research indicates that these  Taíno languages were born around the time of Christ. (Rouse). Words today such as hurricane, hammock, and barbecue take their roots from the Taíno language for example.

Imagining The Taíno World With Modern Times – Did We Evolve?

I would imagine a world that was much more connected and happier to ours (in real moments) than in 2016 with our technology, iPads, phones, and distractions and misdirected chases. A world of tranquility, of abundance, of food, of fires and conversations and above all love and respect for each other. The irony is noted if you’re reading this on an iPad or mobile phone.

I would imagine the people living on the land prior the the 1490’s (500 short years ago – a blink of an eye in historical time) were loving, spiritual, kind, and a benevolent people that lived in peace and harmony (for the most part) for a much longer period of time than what we know of than during our Spanish & American culture today.

It was a naked world. A world showing it who it was. It was a world with nothing to hide. Today’s world offers that opportunity in a digital world, yet the technology is masked. We are masked. Our true selves are behind anonymous user names and masks society asks us to wear.

It is a world of nature, a world of simplicity, a world of sunshine, it is a world taking flight; yet it was a world with its struggles as well. The great wouldn’t be great without the struggle. The triumph not as sweet without the tragedy. Puerto Rico’s story flies both ways:

I mean, I do find it weird that as I think of what life was like prior to the chaos with today’s modern buildings and roads, and traffic and “work, work, work” and government corruption and financial scandals (debt, Wall Street, money that takes care of the few and not the many), constant judgments and #hashtag hate that life still was such a contrast that it begs to ask the question: Have we really evolved?

Yes and no is my answer (as you’ll see further in the book), it’s just harder to see at the fast pace we live today. Life in Puerto Rico in 2016 has these beautiful moments and places if you seek it, although obscured by a cascade of interrupting thoughts, status updates, twitter and information overload, and a blurry of emails to read and write (and oh yeah the house is a mess and we have to cook dinner!).  In fact, I guarantee about 97% of the people reading this post will not get this far (I get it, it’s long, it’s so far in the past nobody relates to it, and who has the time?).  As I mentioned at the start, this is me simply writing to my Puerto Rican son Dylan – as well as the other 3% of people actively trying to make a change and impact for what’s best for this country as a “greater whole.” You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

Puerto Rico’s story is and was an island with a story filled with soul, peace, paradise, and love…yet with blood and darkness in it’s path that must be overcome in generational time for the island to truly take flight and reach her destiny.

The blood came in the form when the Spanish came to Boriken in 1492…”Los Españoles” that is and changed an important aspect of who the people of this island essentially “are.”

Columbus´ Arrival – A Clash Of Worlds, Morals, Values & Ethics


You know, coming from their point of view I would imagine what the Taínos would think upon seeing the sight of practically a new set of human “aliens” of people they had ever seen. A thousand thoughts must have sprung up. Perhaps these thoughts?

“Is this a vision? Are these Gods? Do they have our best interests? What’s happened to our world? Who are these people?”

In modern day times that we live in, we have a complete tendency to regard events in history as not important because neither ourselves nor our parents or even ancestors participated in them. We have as a culture historical short term memory if you think of a timeline on a much broader scale.

The story of Columbus is celebrated by people to honor the discovery of the “New World” when it was clearly the “Taínos” who were the original stewards of this precious land and were the first to find it.

Columbus 1st Voyage – 1492-1493

Columbus and his spanish men first encountered a land with people greeting them with moral characters of “good” or “noble,” as that is what the word “Taíno” means.

Columbus confronted the Taínos with his men with what history is now saying as greeting the natives with cruel intentions and horrible violence on her people with unfathomable violence.

The first Columbus voyage was poorly documented to determine its exact course, but thanks to the priest Bartolome de Las Casas a letter was unearthed in which he reported this first voyage to the King and Queen.

The voyage began in Spain in August of 1492 with the famous 3 ships (Santa Maria, Pinta, Niña). Columbus (which means dove), saw two birds while out at sea and followed them assuming correctly they were heading for land. This course lead him first to an island in the Bahamas in October of 1492. The  Taínos called his island Guanahani, and when Columbus landed he took “possession” of it in the name of the King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and renamed it San Salvador. The inadequacy of the documentation make it hard to learn exactly where he landed. (Rouse).


Columbus is said to have landed in a Taíno village on a beach called Long Bay, where excavations later showed artifacts supporting this theory of first landfall.

Columbus was greeted by Taínos, and somehow or other took on board six  Taínos intending to teach them Spanish so that they could interpret for him and carry them to Spain so that the Queen and King could see for themselves.

The Taínos then directed Columbus with their knowledge of how to arrive to the bigger island of Cuba, in which he arrived two weeks later. He supposedly landed near the present town of Gibara, where he sent his men inland to investigate reports that the natives possessed gold.

Even though Columbus thought he was in an area of Japan and that he would be able to head westward towards China, he briefly headed that way until the Taíno guides told him that gold was available on Hispaniola to the east.

In Hispaniola, Columbus was greeted by the local cacique/chief Guacanagari and he was happy to see he had gold artifacts on him. (Rouse).

He was unable to do a proper search for the gold because two of his ships were not in working order and was only left with the Niña.

Columbus instructed the men that he couldn’t take them all back to Spain because the Niña would be crowded, and supplied them with a year’s worth of provisions and left them under the care of Guacanagari.

Columbus arrived in Spain in March of 1493 and reported to the king and queen what he had seen and the people he encountered that were not as “civilized as the Japanese and Chinese.” He mentioned the people became more developed as he proceeded through Cuba and Hispaniola, recognizing distinctions between Western and Classic Taínos. (Rouse).

He presented the 6 Taíno indians to the king and queen, who had them baptized. One of the indians remained in the court where he died 2 years later, the rest went back with Columbus on the 2nd voyage back. Another who was renamed Diego Colon served as Columbus’ interpreter during the second voyage.

Columbus 2nd Voyage – 1493-1496

Columbus 2nd voyage was longer and yet he had his objectives to rescue the people he left behind in Hispaniola and to keep exploring the islands of the Greater Antilles region.

He was also under the order of the king and queen to establish gold mines and install settlers to develop trade with the Taínos, and also to try to convert them to Christianity.

This time he had 1,500 men, 17 ships, abundant supplies, and absolutely no women on board. You can only imagine what they were like when they saw beautiful naked Taíno women after being out at sea for 2-3 months, but that’s another discussion altogether. What’s important to know about Columbus 2nd voyage is that this is when he learned about the Island-Caribs attacks on the Taínos and the violence they went through to capture women as brides when they met other Taínos when first visiting Puerto Rico. Some people believe he landed at Boqueron Bay on the southern coast, yet others say he landed further north in Aguadilla. Archeology has been unable to give a concrete answer.

Finally, Columbus arrived at the Hispaniola spot where he had left his men the year before. He found his fort in ruins and his men dead. The Chief Guacanagari told him the massacre had been ordered by the chief from across the mountains in Southern Hispaniola (Caonabo) because these men had mistreated with violence his people. The men that Columbus had left behind were known to be adventurers and petty criminals rather than professional sailors.

While he had been away the garrison of the fort began to exploit the local Taíno Indians by stealing their possessions and raping the women.

While he accepted this explanation, Columbus proceeded with his plans for colonization and built a town near the Cibao goldfield in the east coast of Hispaniola and named it Isabela after the queen. The Taínos obviously did not like this and rebellions were born.

Caonabo was the chief of the areas south of the Cordillera Central in Hispaniola and Columbus wanted to have justice served. He sent an emissary to visit Caonabo to stall a possible rebellion. He was captured by being lured out of his town with gifts and offers of a horseback ride. Columbus shipped Caonabo to Spain where he died of unknown causes during his fatal trip.

The revolt did take place a few months later that was led by Caonabo’s brothers and tribe that was helped to be thwarted with the help of Guacanagari – the cacique who had rightfully blamed Caonabo for the destruction of the men of Columbus garrison left behind.

In a sign of the many disloyalties to come from the Spanish, both chiefs were killed as well as a number of followers from both tribes as a signal to the natives of the land of who was now in charge. Four months after this ordeal, Columbus resumed his exploration of the Greater Antilles. He sailed west towards Cuba looking for gold. He turned back around thinking Cuba was a peninsula of China.

Columbus then returned his attention to his mines in Hispaniola hoping to get gold. The mines produced much less gold than was expected, the seeds he had brought for food had proved to be unsuitable in the tropics, and the livestock brought was consumed as these new colonists were unable to grow sufficient food or obtain from the Taínos.

When the king and queen complained about a lack of income from the colony, Columbus sent shiploads of Taíno captives to Spain to be sold as slaves. The slaves were unable to resist European diseases and many died. Other servant Taínos were distributed among the colonists and put into hard and unjust working conditions.

The king and queen were upset they were losing money and had to send additional supplies and demanded Columbus back to Spain in 1496 to answer complaints about his leadership.

Columbus 3rd Voyage – 1498-1500

Two years later Columbus returned to the region of Hispaniola and spent the next few years trying unsuccessfully to govern the colony. He authorized new measures of the seizing of Taíno Indians and divide them amongst his men to be used as forced laborers – an action that was known as repartimiento.

The mines still weren’t producing enough gold, men rebelled against his rule, there were many killings of Taíno Indians under his command, and the king and queen were forced to send a new administrator to take over the government. They were so shocked to find what they saw in such disarray that they sent Columbus back to Spain unceremoniously and he was actually jailed. Columbus’ grant of the colony for him and his family was revoked.

His interests in exploring South America were thwarted, and when that region produced new revenues later on in the “New World” – Columbus did not have his name added for his finds. Another navigator called Amerigo Vespucci was the man who took those “honors.”

Columbus 4th Voyage + Death – 1502-1504

Columbus was released from prison and was allowed to make one more voyage of exploration as long as he did not return to the colony of Hispaniola.

Columbus sailed through coasts of Jamaica and Cuba and crossed the Caribbean Sea to Central America and explored the coast from Honduras to Panama. Two of his ships sank in this journey, and was forced to beach a ship in northern Jamaica on his voyage back.

Columbus was marooned there for an entire year, living in the stranded ships and on food supplied to him by the local Taíno indians. Columbus was rescued in 1504 and sent back to Spain where he was severely ill. Columbus died two years later.


Columbus Successors + The Violent Genocide That Followed

Francisco de Bobadilla took over in 1500 from Columbus and was instructed to increase the gold output while also freeing the Indians. He maintained the repartimiento.

Under the watch of Nicolas de Ovando who succeeded de Bobadilla in 1502 is when it truly took a turn for the worse for the Taíno Indians. The violent genocide that followed can be greatly attributed while under his watch and command.

The brutality and force ordered by Ovando and his 2,500 colonists that he brought along is beyond violence and genocide. His plan was to eliminate the principal caciques/chiefs in the region and was successful.

In 1502 the Taíno Indians rebelled to avenge the killing of one of these caciques who was killed by a Spanish attack dog. Ovando rounded up about seven hundred Taínos, put them in the very chief’s bohio or house, and had them all knifed to death. Their bodies were then dragged into the plaza and publicly burned.

In 1503, he paid a visit to a Chief Anacaona who convened a meeting of about 80 district chiefs in the area. Ovando ordered his soldiers to block the door and burn them alive. Anacaona was hanged, and the last independent chiefdoms in Hispaniola were destroyed. (Rouse).

Bartolome De Las Casas described such scenes as thus: “It all began with the Spanish taking for themselves food. Then taking the native women to satisfy their base appetites. Then the children as servants.”

“Since the newcomers began to subject the locals to assaults, the people began to realize that these men could not, in truth, have descended from the heavens.”

“They slaughtered everyone found there, including small children, old men, pregnant women, even women who had just given birth. They hacked them to pieces, slicing open their bellies with their swords as though they were so many sheep herded into a pen. They even laid wagers on whether they could manage to slice a man in two at a stroke, or cut an individual’s head from his body, or disembowel him with a single blow of their axes.”

“They grabbed suckling infants by the feet and, ripping them from their mothers’ breasts, dashed them headlong against the rocks. They strung victims up with their feet just off the ground and then burn them alive thirteen at a time, in honor of their Savior and the twelve Apostles. Some they chose to keep alive and merely cut their wrists, leaving their hands dangling saying to them: “Take this letter” – meaning their condition would serve as a warning to those Tainos hiding in the hills.

“The way they normally dealt with the native leaders and nobles was to tie them to a kind of griddle consisting of sticks resting on pitchforks driving into the ground and then grill them over a slow fire, with the result that they howled in agony and despair as they died a lingering death. It once happened that I myself witnessed their grilling of four or five local leaders in this fashion.”

“These mortal enemies of human kind trained hunting dogs to track Tainos down – wild dogs who would savage a native to death as soon as looked at him, tearing him to shreds and devouring his flesh as though he were a pig.”

“As happened on the odd occasion that the locals did kill a Spanish, as, given the enormity of the crimes committed against them, they were in all justice fully entitled to the Spanish came to an unofficial agreement among themselves that for every Spanish killed one hundred natives would be executed.”

These are just a few graphic examples De Las Casas describes in his book. Remember, this is the priest who came with Columbus and later spent many years in the Caribbean under Ovando and De Leon and he saw first hand what really happened.

Historical Implications – History is Written By The Victors Which Shapes Culture

The written word gives a course of history a powerful story arc, and yet I’m hoping the same very instrument will reveal to future generations in my own small way the real story that shapes our Puerto Rico and the Caribbean culturally. Perhaps that’s a major reason I wrote the book from my outsider’s perspective.
The Columbus story would be more accurate to humanity as to say he basically discovered a new route from Europe to the Americas and brought with him a wrath of men & successors with bents on destruction that cannot be believed even when you really think about it and read accounts of the true stories (Casals).

Columbus came thinking he had found a new route to Asia. He found a newer world indeed, that can be argued was more advanced than the world he lived in. A world without violence, hatred, and a world that celebrated the human soul and the Earth around it. One world was spiritually wealthy, but materialistically poor. While the other world was materialistically rich, and spiritually poor.

It was literally the old world meeting the new world. The moment in time when two destinies changed. My personal theory I propose is the New World was heading towards higher evolution (spiritually) than what the Old World has to offer (essentially the world we live in today as The New World “lost the battle so to speak”).

While it is true that the Casimiroid and Ortoiroid Indians discovered and populated this island, and were later replaced by the Saladoid people, who evolved into the Taínos- it is their legacy that must not be forgotten and to be celebrated. Their “New World” still holds values and truths that can help modern day era today if truly considered with qualities they personified as human beings with intrinsic attributes we strive for.

I say history re-writes itself in an interesting way, because as we grew up as kids learning in our public school system that Columbus was the Hero of History – which is clearly not true if you know the story and destinies of the lands he touched.

The word is simply genocide. History most recently uses that word with the likes of Adolf Hitler from the 1940’s.

Rarely do we connect it with the story of Puerto Rico and Cuba. But it’s what happened.

Estimates say there were over 1,000,000 Classic Taínos on the island of Hispaniola, and as many as 600,000 in Puerto Rico and Jamaica before the Spanish came in 1490’s.

By 1524 (30 years later), the Taíno population had basically broken down into small, isolated communities struggling to survive with the dominant Spanish population and were basically slaughtered, and decimated (mostly men, as 40% of Spanish men had about Taino wives by the 1520’s).  In summary, the year 1511 brought a revelation to De Las Casas purpose for the rest of his life which brought him from “a colonizing priest into Indian apostle.”

That Christmas a man named Antonio Montesinos delivered a sermon in the church of Santo Domingo that drew analogies from the texts of St. John. De Las Casas was in attendance when Montesinos turned to the Spanish colonists and asked them:

“With what right and with what justice do you keep these poor Indians in such cruel and horrible servitude? By what authority have you made such detestable wars against these people who lived peacefully and gently on their own lands? Are these not men? Do they not have rational souls? One could not in good conscience possess Indians’ and still claim to be a Christian.

“Are you not obliged to love them as yourselves?”


Las Casas heard this sermon and it impacted his life as he was taken by this sermon and this text from Ecclesiasticus 34: 21-2: “The bread of the needy is their life. He that defraudeth him thereof is a man of blood. He that taketh away his neighbor’s living slayeth him, and he that defraudeth the laborer of his hire is a bloodshedder.”

It was this that led him to “consider the misery and slavery that those peoples suffered,” and which drew his mind to Montesinos sermon and changed the path of his life. Las Casas spent many days thinking about this issue and determined within himself of the same truth, that everything which had been done to the Taíno Indians was unjust and tyrannical. His life was spent bringing this truth to the light of day for future generations to know.

Rest Of Taíno Story + Modern History Timeline

1508 – Juan Ponce De Leon is made to be in charge of the Puerto Rico island. (Known for discovering Florida, participating in Taíno massacres, and established methods to keep searching for gold. Established Spanish settlements near principal goldfields at San German in the southwest of Puerto Rico, and at Caparra in the northeast.

The unfair Encomienda slave system of the Taínos were established during these times.

One encomienda site was found in Hacienda Grande east of San Juan. The Taíno Indians were assigned to Ponce De Leon who put them to work searching for gold in the nearby valley. Hacienda Grande was also inhabited by the first Black Slaves imported from Africa.

Island is known as San Juan Bautista.

First black person recognized to step foot in the island of Puerto Rico is Juan Garrido. Traveled with Ponce De Leon and Cortes on expeditions around North and South America.

1509 – The first repartimiento in Puerto Rico is established, allowing colonists fixed numbers of Taínos for wage-free and forced labor in the gold mines as slaves.

1511 – Taíno Resistance. Taínos revolt in an uprising against the Spanish. Ponce De Leon orders and commands about 6,000 to be shot. Survivors flee to the mountains and spend remainder of their lives in hiding.

1513 – African slaves exported to the New World to replace the dwindling Taíno population.

1514 – King Ferdinand gives permission to the colonists to lawfully marry the remaining Taíno women in the island.

1516 – Sugar becomes main economic generator for island. First factory “ingenio” built.

1519 – Capital moved to present day Old San Juan from Caparra (near Bayamon).

1520’s – Island is officially called Puerto Rico (rich port), and the port is now called San Juan. Renaming is rumored to have been a clerical error that the two names were transposed.

1521- Ponce De Leon dies in an encounter with Florida Indians in Cuba.

1522 – San Juan Church is founded. Oldest church still in use in America.

1533 – La Fortaleza begins construction – oldest executive mansion in the Western Hemisphere.

1539 – El Castillo de San Felipe del Morro (El Morro) begins construction.

1580’s – Sugar industry collapses affecting Puerto Rico’s economy.

1585 War breaks out between England and Spain. England defeats the Spanish Armada in w1588 leaving Spain disabled as a naval power.

1595 – English Attack. Sir Frances Drake defeated.

1598 – British Attack.

1625 – The Dutch attack.

1630’s-1640’s – The entire city is fortified. Seven fortresses were linked by a line of stone walls.

1650’s – Underground economy emerges. Coastal towns of Aguada, Arecibo, Cabo Rojo, Fajardo grow into busy centers of illicit international trade circumventing Spanish mercantilist policies.

1736 – Coffee production and exports arrive on the island.

1797 – British attack. See Page 229

1812 – Spain grants conditional citizenship to island residents with the Cadiz Constitution.

1813-1818 – Trade with the United States permitted and trade expanded 8x its previous level improving the economy and making its economic path clear to expand trade with other countries, not just Spain.

1824 – Puerto Rico becomes a haven for smugglers and pirates – with one of the more famous pirates being Roberto Cofresi.

1825 – Cofresi captured and killed on the fields of El Morro castle.

1830 – Plantation economy emerges based on sugarcane and coffee.

1843 – First lighthouse constructed atop the El Morro castle.

1850’s – Military dictators governed the island that oppressed policies from the Spanish government. Cholera epidemic sweeps across the island, killing 30,000 people.

1862 – Separatist fervor grows in Puerto Rico and Cuba after the Dominican Revolution in 1862.

1870’s – Exiled Puerto Ricans and Cubans go to New York to direct the independence movement under the name of the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Committee.

1863 – The Pilgrimage of Bayoán by Eugenio Maria de Hostos is published and the book is outlawed by the Spanish government. The book attempts to illuminate the motivating forces at work behind Hostos’ personal struggles and sacrifices for humanity through consideration as a quintessential quest-myth which mirrors Hostos’ own quest for value, for purpose, for meaning in life within a nebulous and transitory existence of living in oppressive conditions.

1868 – El Grito De Lares – A story for Puerto Rican independence that still lasts today. A major revolt against Spanish rule in the town of Lares. Frustrated by the lack of political and economic freedom and the continuing repression on the island, activists led by Ramon Emeterio Betances and between 600-1000 men launched an offensive that ultimately led to the revolt failing, but years later having Spain grant Puerto Rico autonomy by bringing many issues to light. Many were arrested and many died for this cause.

1873 – Slavery is abolished in Puerto Rico giving freedom to over 32,000 people.

1897 – A year before Spain loses control Puerto Rico to the United States, Spain grants the island autonomy. Puerto Rico is free to establish its own import duties and foreign trade relations.

1898 – From May till August the United States engaged Puerto Rico in war. 12 U.S. ships bombard San Cristobal Fort and battle commences. In July, General Miles of the United States lands in the southern coast of Guanica with over 16,000 men ready to take the island and by August the whole island is invaded. The war only lasted two weeks before Spain surrendered in the Treaty of Paris.

1898 – Spanish/American War; Treaty of Paris brings Puerto Rico under American jurisdiction. The brief Spanish-American War, in which the United States wins Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and other colonial possessions from Spain under the Treaty of Paris, prevents Puerto Ricans from implementing their new government. At the moment the US acquired Puerto Rico, only an eighth of the population was literate, and only one in 14 children attended school.

1899 – Massive hurricane hits Puerto Rico resulting in 3,000 people dying and massive property damage to the island. The hurricane devastated the sugar and coffee crops and 25% of the people were without homes. The U.S. only awarded $200,000 to the island in relief payments. Because there was a shortage of sugar, about 5,000 Puerto Ricans made their way to Hawaii to work the sugar plantations there.

1900 – Small farmers in Puerto Rico begin losing their lands to United States agricultural business interests. Population of Puerto Rico hits 1 million people.

1915’s – Labor movements and antagonism between Puerto Rico and the United States was strong. While employment and production on the island rose, big American corporations made the most profits from this growth period and that money flowed out of the country into the United States economy. At this time, the average Puerto Rican family earned $150-$250 per year. The small jibaros farmers mostly sold their farms to farm estates and United States factories.

1917 – Reluctantly, President Wilson approves the Jones Act granting U.S. citizenship to all Puerto Ricans. This Act affronted many Puerto Rico statesmen who for years pressed for a break from Spain and U.S. rule and was a way to draw Puerto Rico in even more towards the United States and not have Puerto Rico autonomous and free. Luis Munoz Rivera organized a new party to reach a compromise between pure separatists and the US government. He urged Congress not to pass this act in the best interests of Puerto Rico’s future.

1928, 1932 – Two hurricanes accompanied the collapse of the economy as well as the beginning of the Great Depression in the 1930’s. Poverty, starvation, and deprivation emerged.

1936 – The emergence of Pedro Albizu Campos – a leader of militant revolutionaries. He claimed that United States claims on Puerto Rico were in fact illegal, since Puerto Rico was actually autonomous at the time of occupation. Campos was a former US Army officer, graduate of Harvard Law School, and emerged from the generation of children at the time the United States took over Puerto Rico.

1937 – The massacre of Ponce. At the beginning of a parade for the National Puerto Rico parade 20 people are killed and over 100 wounded in skirmishes involving police officers who clashed with the citizens.

1938 – Luis Munoz Marin founded the Partido Democratico Popular (PDP) with the aid of United States business interests.

1941 – United States began to establish military bases in the islands of Culebra and Vieques.

1942 – Hiram Bithorn (Cubs) becomes first Puerto Rican to play in the Major Leagues.

1945 – A wave of Puerto Ricans emigrate to the United States looking for better jobs and to improve their economic situation.

1946 – Jesus T. Pinero first native governor in the island’s history with the aid of United States business interests as he was appointed by Harry S. Truman.

1947 – Tourism begins increasing on the island as airlines open up routes from Miami and New York.

1948 – Luis Munoz Marin takes office as the first popularly elected governor. He wanted Puerto Rico to be an “associated free state.” Because the newly independent and autonomous Philippines had their social progress and economy stalled after occupation, the United States delayed this plan. Operation Bootstrap industrializes and urbanizes the island through low wages and tax concessions to U.S. investors. While the program also promotes migration to the mainland to provide labor for U.S. industry especially into New York.

1950 – Public Law 600 (Puerto Rico Commonwealth Bill) provided a plebiscite in which voters would decide whether to remain a colony or assume status as a commonwealth.

1952 – Puerto Ricans vote 3 to 1 in favor of commonwealth status, giving Puerto Rico the right to draft its own constitution although the U.S. Congress would still retain paramount power.

1955 – Institute of Puerto Rico Culture is founded.

1959 – Following Fidel Castro’s communist revolution in Cuba, Puerto Ricans become concerned with regional security and ideology and the fate of their country since both historically Puerto Rico and Cuba have always been tied together. The island absorbs an influx of Cuban exiles.

1960’s – Vietnam. Proportionately, more Puerto Ricans die in Vietnam than Americans. Soldiers sent there by the President of the United States can die for him and the country, but not vote for him or the leader of the country.

1963 – Arecibo Observatory opens to search for extraterrestrial life and other scientific research.

1972 – Roberto Clemente reaches 3,000 hits in a Hall of Fame career. Months after the season ended, he dies in a plane crash off the north shore coast of San Juan while taking help and aid to victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua.

1975 – Pre-Taino ruins discovered in Tibes near Ponce after a flood and eventual drying of the land revealed this sacred indigenous site.

1983 – El Morro Castle is declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations.

1991 – Puerto Rico declares Spanish the only official language of the island.

1993 – Voters reaffirm Commonwealth status by a slim margin. English and Spanish are designated as the island’s official languages.

1996 – In a non-binding referendum, voters reject statehood once again, marking the third time in three decades that statehood has been rebuffed by Puerto Rican voters.

1998 – One hundred years after the United States occupation in Puerto Rico, a plebiscite saw 51% voting for the alternative of “None of the Above” to the 46% of those opting for statehood over independence and commonwealth. Less than 3% now favored pure independence, but it was clear the mandate is requiring a new answer for Puerto Rico’s future.

1999 – Two US Marine training jets dropping bombs over the island of Vieques miss their targets, killing David Sanes Rodriguez and injuring four other civilians. Protesters subsequently prevent the Navy from carrying out its maneuvers, and Puerto Rican officials lobby for an end to military exercises there. The Navy, which owns two-thirds of Vieques, began military maneuvers there in the mid-1900s.

2000 – 1st female governor of Puerto Rico Sila M. Calderón is elected.

2001 – The U.S. government announces plans for a gradual cessation of maneuvers in Vieques

2006 – After the island’s government has an economic collapse, the “Taxpayer Justice Act” increases the general excise tax on the citizens. 5.5% to the central government; 1.5% to the municipalities; an additional 1% to the central government in the event the governor and their business “needs it.”

2009 – Sonia Sotomayor is nominated by President Barack Obama to the Supreme Court Justice position in the United States. Sotomayor is of Puerto Rican descent.

2012 – Voters support statehood in a non-binding referendum with 54%.

2014 – Population from the island fell from 3.7 million in 2010 to 3.6 million in 2013 and Puerto Rico is still in transition of whether there is more economic opportunity in the United States or on the island.

2015 – Literacy rate in Puerto Rico is now over 95%. One hundred years earlier only an eighth of the population was literate. Cuba takes first steps to open up system with talks between Obama and Raul Castro – who has taken over for the ill Fidel Castro.

2016 – Puerto Rico makes national headlines for being on the brink of bankruptcy because of government fraud/ineptitude.  Default on loan payments owed to Wall Street (who really run the United States as following the money trail of truth will tell you.)  Cuba hosts President Barack Obama with indications that it will soon open up to American financial interests again.

2016 & Beyond – The next century… ? or !  Who are Puerto Ricans?  Where are they going?  Does the question mark linger or is there an exclamation point in her future?

Puerto Rico’s Future Destiny

If you look at the broad scope of Puerto Rico’s history you will notice that the story is still unfolding and there is a richer history to draw from with her native roots, spanish, african, and american branches and leaves, and it’s own new path to forge and grow her own identity in the global world we live in today and beyond tomorrow.

Where is Puerto Rico heading? For that matter since I’m also American and of Cuban descent, I’m also curious where is Cuba heading? As they say, are the two birds of the same feather so to speak?

Culture Identity for Puerto Rico’s Future People

The spanish-speaking and all of the people of Puerto Rico are currently in a state of flux. Does the culture go the way and opt for statehood (like Haiti under French possession) with the United States and risk that Anglo-American culture will become dominant over their Spanish, Taíno, and African heritage in the hundreds of years to come?
Does it promote cultural independence and keep the status quo as it is today in 2016 as a commonwealth of the United States and has their finances controlled by the United States, yet never having their autonomy and true freedom? Is this the end of the road as it stands today?  Is this the best she can do?

Is it truly “none of the above” as a new path becomes clear? Does it involve the Caribbean Islands being united in trade as they once were for a grand majority of this island’s history? Does Cuba come into play? Does Dominican Republic and Haiti come into play? Does South America get involved in this new economic game being played in modern times? Can Puerto Rico truly handle their economy on their own in a new and emerging global market? Does she believe in herself?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. All I know is that in 2016, things are changing much faster than ever before in history. From the Taínos over 6,000 years ago to today’s culture of technology, iPads, cell phones, and information flowing faster than ever before the culture is ripe to answer these questions for herself in these coming generations.

In order to know the future course, it’s also best to know the roots and where it all started is my simple opinion in order for all of these questions to better inform who we want to be as people, as a culture, as a society, and as an example to the rest of the world.

Conclusions of Gratitude to La Isla De Encanto

Puerto Rico is indebted to its Taíno roots because of the artistry and food and culture we enjoy today. There is a rich untold story that today’s culture of Puerto Rico is unaware of from the education it receives from an early age – and there are many admirable qualities to take with us into this new modern age we are living in.

Qualities like gratitude, honor, wisdom, kindness, peace, brotherhood, laughter, spiritual connections, hard work, perseverance of culture, actions that benefit the whole community & not just a select few, and of course qualities which involve passion and love for what you do and the people in your life to lead lives of purpose and meaning and contribution.

Puerto Rico can also be thankful for it’s Spanish, African, and American branches and leaves of culture today as they have given the culture amazing aspects such as literacy, health, exotic food, art, music, dance, and world class heritage sights. These qualities cannot be ignored, even though there was “blood in the water” so to speak when these nations took over the island of Puerto Rico.

One of the things the Europeans were fascinated by when they first met the people of Puerto Rico was their “apparent simplicity of life they lead. It confirmed to some the classical biblical belief in an initial golden age, in which humans retained their original innocence, had not yet developed private property and social controls, and consequently lived in a state of complete happiness.” (Rouse).

The last 500 years or so have brought many changes to the island and there will undoubtedly be many more during the next 500 years.

There’s a saying I like to say that seems to kind of make sense to me, and for others if you really and truly think about it:
The world and society of the world and the people we interact with are merely a mirror of who we are. What you think, and feel, and choose to see is who you are.

You get the world you are.

In essence, whether you live here or are traveling here, you get the Puerto Rico you are.

While I’m definitely far from perfect and a human being like everyone else with flaws and obstacles in my way, and still trying to figure out what this all means and why we are here and what we have to offer one another, I’m grateful to Puerto Rico and all of her people for what I continue to witness after 6 years traveling this island. I’m grateful to have learned so much and be a part of her story. Yes, I call her a girl. Duh. Of course it’s a girl. It’s my story too! 🙂  It’s also about a boy.  My boy, Dylan.  Is it about you as well?  Can you relate?

The book I wrote is dedicated to a version of Puerto Rico I SEE today and continue to wish success for her unknown future and destiny wherever that leads!


The New Page

So just like that our lives have a new page and a new chapter.  We have welcomed Dylan Andres Diaz into the world (the world of Puerto Rico 🙂 on September 7th, 2015.

The last page of the 700 page travel guide was learning the fact we were having a baby.  We are happy to announce he has entered our world and that we are ready to officially now launch our project onto the world.

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Puerto Rico Revealed Updates

This is just a quick blog post to announce to the world the book is finally done, and our website is up and running and geared up for 2016 tourism season.  Be on the lookout for timely content and an upcoming schedule of events and new places to see and check out that are up and coming.  In the meantime, download our book in the Apple iBookstore and get your Puerto Rico experience on.

Thank you very much to all of you who have been part of this project since it’s inception in 2012 through today.

I have no idea what comes next.  Just super proud of what we’ve created after my Puerto Rico Adventure chapter ends and a new one begins.

Dedicate this book to my son Dylan Andres Diaz and my future wife Natalia Lopez. Wow, I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence.  Quite a journey indeed!

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“To conquer oneself is far greater and more noble than to conquer others.  Then the victory is yours. It can never be taken from you.”


Tinajas Puerto Rico

Rio Tinajas is more of a place that’s “off the beaten path” – located south of Fajardo – this is a fun time if you want to hike, explore, jump off ropes & waterfalls and slide down a natural water slide.  In terms of her enchanting nature, Puerto Rico…en realidadlo hace mejor. Puerto Rico does it better. Tinajas Puerto Rico is a perfect example of this. See, there are tons of places in Hawaii that have a place with a cool little waterfalls and a ropes where you can jump off of and get that “thrill!” However, hands down, Tinajas Puerto Rico tops that by far.

This enchanting jewel is located in the backyard of this really nice older man’s backyard. Don’t worry. You’re not trespassing. In fact he’s quite cheerful and allows you to park in his home. He usually charges about $2 to park, but the times we’ve gone we give him about $7-$10 to park. I’m sure it’s some sort of good karma to pay him extra since he’s asking for so little in return for sharing this marvelous place. So give him more. Best money you will spend in Puerto Rico.

Drive all the way till you see the gate and ask for him so you can park. Now bear in mind the gate may be locked and there may be no one in sight. I once went with my family when they came to visit me and I took them here. The gate was locked and for a second there I thought I had just driven all the way here for nothing. Sure enough, there are local kids who live next door who if you ask they can guide you or show you the falls. That’s what we did even though the gate was locked. If the gate is locked head down into the 1 foot river and head west along the river rocks and water. It’s a longer and more arduous hike – but not that difficult.

One note about parking if you don’t get in the gate. Park along the grass but make sure you don’t park along the road where there are No Parking signs or you may get a ticket of $75. This is a great place. Positive vibrations estan aqui. Good times are had here. This hike, drive, and adventure is worth it while exploring Puerto Rico. The hike is only about 10 minutes – not too much of a load to bring a cooler. Also, just make sure to clean whatever garbage you make and clean after yourself. Unfortunately, I do love Puerto Rico, but you may see some littered beer cans and other garbage here and there. Remember to leave only your footprints.

Once there, set your bags down and explore the place. If the water looks cold, go in anyways. If you don’t feel like jumping in, jump in. You will feel better. Have fun here, yet remember to be safe. Use your common sense and do what you feel comfortable doing. It’s not about getting hurt. It’s about having fun, enjoying life, and finding the hidden gems in our lives. This is one of them. If you’re lucky enough to have it to yourselves – wow. However, even if there’s too many people here – it’s still one of my favorite spots on the island. It’s a fun and “stupendous” way (as my niece Gaby would say) to spend a few hours in a natural playground.




What To Do:

1. Jump off rope 2. Water Rappel 3. Slide down Natural Waterslide 4. Jump Off Waterfall 5. Have a Beer

After you jump from the rope, it’s time to put on your hiking shoes and climb some rocks to get to do the other fun stuff. Hike past the ropes on the right side all the way up and past the rope that leads to the natural waterslide (and platform to jump the waterfall).

There may be a rope there to assist you up the rock, if not go past it and hike upwards and climb the rocks till you’re on top of the falls. Ask the locals if not. If you’re by yourself use caution and common sense and follow the water – and enjoy the slide!

Don’t worry it doesn’t hurt. In fact it’s a blast! Last but not least is to jump off the waterfall if you’re up for it. It’s high up there, but quite an adrenaline rush once you jump. We can’t state this enough, but don’t do anything you don’t feel like doing. If you’re more of a spectator – it’s still entertaining to just sit in the pool and watch everyone jumping. Be aware of the rains – flash flooding can happen after heavy rains and river levels can rise instantly so be on the lookout always!

The whole Rio Tinajas adventure should take you between 2-3 hours – depending on how long you want to stay. Head back to the car and try to hit the road once again by 1-2:30PM at the latest so you can rest assured you have plenty of time to check out the other stops on this Day 1 Adventure.


From Route #3 take the exit for PR-195 into Fajardo. Make a right before you see the Subway Restaurant and get onto PR-976 heading South. Follow this road all the way down till it turns into PR-971. Drive on PR-971 till you cross a small bridge over the river – turn right onto an unnamed road. Follow that road all the way till you get to the gate of the owner of the house. The closer to the gate you park, the less time your hike to Rio Tinajas is.

“Charco Frío”
Naguabo, 00718, Puerto Rico

“People say that we are all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think we’re seeking is an experience of being alive!”

-Joseph Campbell, “The Power of Myth”



Puerto Rico Travel Guide

This Puerto Rico travel guide has been a labor of love and passion and it is finally finished!  After traveling the island beginning in 2010, I began realizing that I had more photos, videos, and information about some cool travel spots in the short span of two years.  In 2012, I set a goal to finish this book no matter how long it took me.  Mission accomplished.  Book is done, and boy oh boy does it have a surprise ending (hey, at least for me as the creative influence behind this project).  Along the way I also became a concierge at one of the best hotels of San Juan.  Funny how when you set a goal, life does lead you where you need to go to make the connections you need to make, to be of service to others.  I absolutely love what I’ve accomplished, and can’t wait to share it with the world!

This is simply just a brief update blog post to be on the lookout within these next few months for the official launch of book, some website updates, and a new goal and mission to make this site and interactive travel book the best Puerto Rico travel guide resource.  When I say the best, I mean, beyond the best.  It’s now my mission and purpose to be of service to all who travel to this island which is now my home.

The Launch & Firewords Are Coming July 4th, 2015

Yes, I meant to write firewords.  I didn’t meant to at first, but then I kinda liked it so it stays.  Well, if you’re reading this in the future (after 2015), it’s already uploaded.  Just download the book.  I hope you take something from my small story for your own personal journey, and in the meantime I’ll be giving you ideas on what to do and see in Puerto Rico.  Not a bad proposition.  Check it out!

If you happen to read this after I publish this Puerto Rico travel blog update in April 2015, just know that you can email me for anything you need at shawn@puertoricorevealed.com.  The book is in the final stages of being uploaded to the Apple iBookstore, and with the launch of the ability for you to download the book from this website directly as well.  For you Android users, for now you will have to opportunity to download it in a Puerto Rico Travel Guide pdf format.  We are aiming for a cool 4th of July launch.  Why not?  I’m still American.  I love fireworks.  And WE still have  some more work to do for launch.  Should have this out to the world and begin to celebrate in the Summer.  In the meantime you can download the sample chapter below!

The Force Awakens

This has nothing to do with Puerto Rico.  But wow, wasn’t the trailer of the new Star Wars movie beyond epic?  Yes.


“The Force is strong in my family. My father has it… I have it… my sister has it… you have that power, too. “







Pinones Puerto Rico

Driving into Pińones you are instantly transported back in time to another era – almost as if the days of an iPad, high-end technology, and our fast paced lives have yet to come into existence.  The arresting contrast of arriving here presents the abrupt transition of culture from San Juan. It´s the perfect getaway and if you´re traveling from other parts of the world you will know this is when you´ve arrived to travel in Puerto Rico.

The two worlds are linked by Punta Cangrejos (Crab Point) a small bridge on PR-187. Once you cross over this bridge, the tourist traps become a distant memory and you are now well on your way to exploring the best of this island.
As you drive along PR-187, this is when you’re more than likely to experience the feeling of finally being on vacation and free en La Isla De Encanto.pinones-puerto-rico-2

History of Pinones Puerto Rico

The history of this place is interesting in that it has an ongoing story till this day in Puerto Rican lore. The town of Loiza, and the community of Piñones, reflects the richness of the island’s Afro-Spanish culture and traditions, especially in the form of music, food and crafts. It is considered by many locals “the soul of the island” celebrating Puerto Rico’s traditional Afro-Caribbean community and culture.

It is the home to many modest families making a living selling typical local food from kiosks along the beach. Their traditions span back 400 years and beyond that to the time when the Spanish conquered the land and brought in the first roots of African people to the island.  Most of this fertile low-lying coastal region was farmed by local people in the late 16th century.


In the 1720’s however the Spanish finally inched their way to this part of the land (the Spanish were mostly concentrated in Old San Juan) and turned them into sugarcane plantations. Obviously this caused quite a stir with the natives, and many were captured and forced into labor.

Unable to keep many locals who fled into the mountains, Spanish plantation owners were forced to ship in African workers – and sometimes even stole people from neighboring islands as well. Most of the over 30,000 residents of this town today are direct descendants of these Yoruba slaves.

The town of Loiza is named after Luissa, a powerful Taíno chief who ruled the area before the Spanish conquest. What makes her remarkable is that there are only two known female caciques (chiefs) known in the Caribbean.

Today, the region is proud of its Afro-Caribbean heritage even though it’s trying to hold on to our modern world’s rapid changes. If you’ll notice the coastline of Old San Juan, Condado, Ocean Park, and Isla Verde have their high-rises literally right on the beach which erases the view of the ocean from the road. In Pińones, there is nothing but coastline to look at as you drive through. Absolutely beautiful and pristine nature here. However, development projects in today’s world have been trying to get their hands on this region for years even though the efforts have been thwarted. In Puerto Rico, as throughout the Americas, community and environmental well-being remain on the defensive.

Piñones is a place to enjoy today…to remind us of yesterday. Hopefully it remains as we see it today (2015), tomorrow.


Stop in Pińones and stop at whichever kiosk you like and order some great authentic local street food. The smells here are incredible. Between the smells of the food, the ocean breezes and salty air and the whole general ambiance – you cannot but help to feel great as you begin your day.
Grab your food and your drinks and head towards the 1st natural and beautiful scenic beach to enjoy the views and tastes of the beginning of your first adventure day in Puerto Rico! After this, hit the road and keep truckin’!


Taxis VS Car Rentals – Getting Around Puerto Rico

Working as a concierge at one of the major hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico you quickly learn how fast the transportation costs add up for travelers visiting the island.  The fact of the matter is the traveler has 3 options for transportation and getting around Puerto Rico – all with their major pros and cons.  You can be daring and adventurous and enjoy the public transportation options of the Puerto Rico Metro area section.  Or you can just use a taxi or personal car services for everywhere you want to go, or be free and rent a car to get around.

Getting Around Puerto Rico – The True Costs

Taxis in Puerto Rico:  Controlled Market & Costs Add Up Fast

If you opt to use taxis in Puerto Rico there are definite pros and cons depending on your point of view.  Because the taxis in Puerto Rico basically control the tourism Metro area market, you will find that the rates to get around are pretty absurd.  There is no competition yet like those springing up in the United States like Uber or Lyft, so you will find that a 5 minute cab ride from Isla Verde to Condado 5 minutes away will cost you at least $30 if you factor in the round trip costs.

Sometimes Taxis refuse to take travelers to certain parts of the Metro Area like Old San Juan or Condado when there are major events.  The reason?  Traffic and blocked lanes to get in and thus the taxis sometimes refuse to go during these crazy traffic situations and events that do happen from time to time.  The pros of using taxis of course is not worrying about driving, or thinking, or knowing how to get to a place.

If you take 3 different taxi trips a day around Isla Verde, Condado, or Old San Juan and are staying for about 3-4 days in Puerto Rico you can see how easily these costs will affect your traveling budget.

Let’s do some math using a 3 day stay as an example and you are staying in the middle of the Metro Area (Condado).  Old San Juan is on the far end on the western side, Condado/Santurce is in the middle of the Metro Area, and Isla Verde is near the airport on the eastern side so you have a frame of reference.  Typically, I’d say over 90% of tourists to Puerto Rico stay in this basic area when visiting Puerto Rico – except when going to visit tourist areas such as El Yunque Rainforest and the Bio-luminescent bay in Fajardo.

The Math of Taxis in Puerto Rico – A Basic 4 Day Stay

Day 1

  • Airport To Hotel in Metro Area:  $20
  • Taxi to go have dinner and back to hotel:  $42 ($21 each way)
  • Total for Day:  $62

Day 2

  • Taxi to Old San Juan to visit forts:  $42
  • Taxi to go have dinner: $42
  • Miscellaneous Taxi Trip -(Visit other hotel lobbies, or go to another bar, etc.) $42
  • Total for Day:  $126

Day 3

  • Day Trip To El Yunque Rainforest (either via a Tour Company or Taxi):  $50
  • Taxi to go have dinner and back to hotel:  $42
  • Miscellaneous Taxi Trip – $42
  • Total for Day:  $134

Day 4

  • Day Trip To Fajardo to kayak Bio-Luminescent Bay (Most popular tour):  $50
  • Taxi to go have dinner:  $42
  • Miscellaneous Taxi Trip – $42
  • Next Day: Trip back to Airport:  $20
  • Total for Day:  $164

Bottom Line:  $476 not including tips. ($119 per day or $60 per person per day)

Car Rentals in Puerto Rico:  Limited Inventory During Tourism High Season, Less Expensive

If you opt to rent a car in Puerto Rico we definitely recommend booking far in advance to your stay in Puerto Rico.  We know that many travelers wait till the last minute to rent a car only to find that there are no cars left.  There is limited car rental cars available especially during busy/high tourism season.  However, as you see below the pros of renting a car is that it’s about 5% less expensive than taking taxis, and gives you more time freedom to drive and see more of the country – not just the Metro tourist area.

The Math of Car Rentals in Puerto Rico – A Basic 4 Day Stay

Day 1

  • Car Rental Fee (more if you opt to add insurance):  $45
  • Gas for Day:  $10
  • Parking Fees (Hotels/Restaurants in Metro Area):  $25
  • Total for Day:  $80

Day 2

  • Car Rental Fee For Day:  $45
  • Gas/Parking to Old San Juan to visit forts:  $20
  • Hotel Parking Fees: $25
  • Miscellaneous Trip (Gas/Parking):  $20
  • Total for Day:  $110

Day 3

  • Car Rental Fee For Day:  $45
  • Day Trip To El Yunque Rainforest (Gas / Park Entrance Free):  $30
  • Parking Fees (Hotels/Restaurants in Metro Area):  $25
  • Miscellaneous Trip (Gas/Parking) – $20
  • Total for Day:  $120

Day 4

  • Car Rental Fee For Day:  $45
  • Day Trip To Fajardo to kayak Bio-Luminescent Bay (Most popular tour/gas to get there):  $35
  • Parking Fees (Hotels/Restaurants in Metro Area):  $25
  • Miscellaneous Trip (Gas/Parking) – $20
  • Next Day: Trip back to Airport and Fill Up Gas Tank before turning in car rental:  $20
  • Total for Day:  $145

Bottom Line:  $455, no need to tip. ($113 per day or $56 per person per day)


The Winner Is?

Depends on what type of traveler you are.  Some love not thinking nor driving when on vacation.  Others love getting on the road and discovering a country and getting lost in the process and finding their own way.  The numbers say that renting a car is about 5-10% less expensive, but that also depends on if the traveler just stays at the hotel and walks around to their dinner destinations.

Of course you can always take the bus for $0.75 exact change each day!  You just gotta bring your paitence with ya!  For more general information see or Begin Here section regarding Getting Around Puerto Rico.

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