This weekend we met up with a friend and decided to take an excursion up to Arecibo. We’ve been to the Observatory and Camuy Caves, though they probably merit another trip since it’s been more than 10 years. This trip, however, the main goal was to see the Cueva del Indio (Taino Indian Cave). From what I’ve read this cave was a sacred place for the Taino Indians and unlike many other caves in Puerto Rico, it is located right on the seashore. We met up in San Sebastian and headed up through the island with a few stops along the way.
Along the way we got stuck in a couple of political caravanas, but it wasn’t too bad. For the next three weeks or so I have a feeling it’s going to get more and more intense around here. People line the roads and hang out their cars waving flags and playing music in support of their party or politician of choice.
When we arrived in Arecibo we stopped at the Lighthouse aka Faro Los Morrillos.
We came around to where there is a Lighthouse Park. It looked like a kids’ amusement park without any real rides or anything. Parking was $3 and the entrance fee is $12! Pretty high. For $39 there are many other things I would rather do. Many people, including us, went up to the gate and then turned around. I mainly just wanted to see the lighthouse.
We drove around to the other side of the Faro (which the clerk didn’t tell us we could do) and saw a better view of the lighthouse and also an awesome beach that had waves crashing and slamming into plumes of salt foam. This beach is called Pozo del Obispo.
View looking down at the beach area
And from there we could see one of our next stops! The huge and controversial Christopher Columbus statue that was dismissed from many other potential homes before arriving in Puerto Rico. You can see it a little in the above picture, but zoomed in you can definitely make it out. This statue is controversial because though Columbus is an important historical figure, he was also kind of a crappy human being who inflicted a lot of pain on people. Especially indigenous peoples like the Taino Indians who lived on the island before it was “discovered” by the Europeans.
Daylight was precious so we headed over to the caves. It gets dark around 6:30pm so we wanted to make sure to see the caves. When we arrived to the “official” entrance the clerk said we had missed it by 15 minutes! They close parking at 5pm!
We were super bummed to be turned away, especially missing it by only 15 minutes. But onward and upward. We headed down the road about 2 blocks and found the huge Christopher Columbus statue. I found it especially ironic or at least coincidental that this huge statue of the mass murderer of many indigenous people would be literally walking distance down the road from the sacred caves of the Indians.
We paid $2 to sit in the parking lot under the statue and make ourselves a drink. We were lamenting not seeing the caves when a man we had seen at the lighthouse asked us if we had seen them yet. We said no, that we just missed it. He said that all we needed to do was find a different entrance and we could go in and that the coast, where the caves are, is free and public. He said that he and his friend found a little snipped part in the fence and they just snuck right in and nobody said anything. Hey, we’re all for adventure! So we were off to see the caves after all! He said that they were charging $5 per person to enter through the official way, but that if you go yourself it’s free! Even better!
Just down from the official entrance we had seen earlier there were some houses on the road and so we parked just outside of there. We found the little hole in the fence and snuck right through. We climbed the sharp rocky rough ground for about 3 minutes and arrived to a beautiful sea scene with boulder arches and active waters.
We wandered about the rocky coast for a while and then saw a few people descending. This must be where the cave of the Indian is, we thought. There were rocky steps that seemed to be perfectly cut just for that reason. It almost felt like a den room.
Then we came upon the ladder that would take us deep into the heart of the cave where the cave touches the sea. The sacred room of the Tainos.
It was really cool seeing all the Taino petroglyphs. I have read that this cave has more petroglyphs than any other site in Puerto Rico! I don’t know what they symbolized but it reminded me that this island has so many layers of history to it. Long before Columbus landed, the island was thriving.
For being so open to the elements and visitors I thought it was remarkably well-maintained. I always find it so interesting that in Puerto Rico for the most part things are just left to the people to explore. A very populist notion of live and let live that I find really appealing, especially to my sense of adventure and freedom.
Since we were the last ones there we had a few minutes before dark to take a few fun shots. It would be an awesome place to do a proper photoshoot.
Later that night we went out to have shrimp pizza in Hatillo under the light of a brilliant full moon.
Here’s a little video of our time at the caves and statue. Enjoy.