This weekend we took a road trip into the mountains of Puerto Rico. We were headed to the Coffee Festival in Jayuya, which is smack in the middle of Puerto Rico. It took us about 2 hours to climb our way into the mountains through windy roads and narrow lands but it was absolutely beautiful. One moment you’re in tree canopy, the next you’re looking at breath taking views of the mountains and valleys, and the next you’re at the top of the mountains surrounded by cool fog. The drive up was worth it alone!! (That is if you’re not prone to car sickness).
About an hour and half into our journey, Alejandro got hungry so we pulled off the highway at a roadside lechon kiosk. Street meat really is one of the best things about living here! It thrills me to see pigs just roasting on a spit on the side of the road! (Sorry veggie friends...)
We made it to the Coffee Festival up in the mountains of Jayuya at the town sports complex. It was a pretty standard festival with artisans selling Puerto Rican made goods, plants, food, farm animals, and music, but everything had a coffee theme to it.
Puerto Ricans take their coffee very seriously, but it’s not like coffee culture back in the states. I did a quick google search and there are only 16 Starbucks on the whole island and they are all in the metropolitan/tourist area. We also don’t really have the hipster coffee trend that’s taking off stateside either. None of the coffee I’ve had here is slow drip, hand poured, using 500 degree water sourced by monks in the Pyrenees. Here a standard coffee comes out of an espresso machine, consists of 2-3 gulps and usually comes with milk and sugar. That’s not to say you can’t get a latte or a cappuccino, but for quick coffee most people stop in at panederia to get their fix.
Back at the coffee festival there were a number of different local haciendas set up selling bags of coffee and all had free samples of their coffee to try. All the coffees we tried were different, ranging from mellow and smooth to strong and bitter, there was definitely something for every type of coffee drinker!
Jayuya is also known for having Taino petroglyphs, an area called Piedra Escrita. They weren’t too far from the coffee festival so we figured we might as well take a look since we were already in the area. The petroglyphs are on a rock in the Río Saliente. There is a large restaurant on the side of the road and large parking lot - this is definitely a tourist stop so its very well maintained and there is a really nice walking path down to the river through the trees.
While the area is well preserved there is no barrier or protection to the petroglyphs from people. The river has a nice pool right below the rock with the petroglyphs so people use the rock to jump off into the pool. I like to imagine people enjoying the rocks and the rivers just as the Tainos might have back in their time.
I looked up some of the symbols I could see on the rocks:
- the swirls represent water
- the last one on the far right is a frog
- the amoeba shape left of center represents the dead without noses
- there is a symbol for the sun
- and one for a mask.
No one is certain why the petroglyphs are carved in this rock, but they are a representation of the nature found in the everyday lives of the Tainos.
It’s pretty nice to be able to leave our house in the morning, have some roadside street meat for lunch, experience local coffee growers, see some island history, and be back at home as the sun is setting! Pretty nice day indeed!