Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Park & the Taino Petroglyphs
We’ve been meaning to visit the ceremonial park for sometime and after much discussion about our route we decided to take the long way. From hwy 2, we took hwy 10 south and then quickly got off on hwy 123. There were many twists and turns, rubbernecking and pit stops. Mostly to run after baby piglets, acquire cool drinks and play a couple rounds of pool.
After we had dawdled enough we headed west on hwy 111 which turned out to be even twistier and turniererer. Sorry…it was a lot of fun to drive. The one thing I have noticed on our weekend trips is that each town has its own unique personality. It´s amazing to see a 100×35 area with so much diversity and points of interest packed in.
Driving on 111 led us through a sweet little town and then finally arriving at the Ceremonial Park. We took our lunch to the eating area where we were soon joined by a very bossy rooster who had no problem stealing dorito crumbs away. Oh and one aloof cat who had no interest in chasing said rooster or doritos.
Done with our final procrastination of the day we walked to the main entrance. The 700+ year old grounds consist of a modern main building which contains a small air conditioned room for artifacts, an upstairs display of artists interpretations of the Taino people and a gift shop. The artifacts weren’t very plentiful but they made up for it with their impressive mastery of skill. The neck collar pictured is thought to be worn during important games and ceremonies, no light feat in of itself! How the stones were so precisely and expertly carved is still unknown. These same collars bear great similarities to the Mexican stone yokes worn by Mesoamerican ball players.
Behind the building you walk onto an expansive manicured site with 10 courts total. The main court (batey) is believed to have been a meeting place for community gatherings and ceremonies. Traditional games and dances were performed in the smaller surrounding bateys. Along the perimeter of the courts are various stones with petroglyphs carved into the surface. Most of these depict the Taino people themselves and the local fauna such as birds, turtles and of course, frogs. Perhaps a coqui?
Magnificent Ceiba trees are dotted along the grounds along with several ferocious ant mounds. Somehow I managed to miss every single one but got attacked on a handful of occasions by standing too long in near proximity. Steve planted his foot squarely into a monster mound but of course came out unscathed, he impervious to nature.
If you walk toward the rear of the property you can see a stunning view of Montaña Cemí where the Taino believed their gods to reside. Cemís were stone idols that represented Taino deities. These figures often depicted three points, just as Cemí Mountain contains three peaks. The Rio de Caguana flowing nearby supplying water and substance. This same river can be seen from the left side of the property and at a considerable elevation. Many locals were enjoying the sunny day to slide down some of the well worn rocks.
Puerto Rico has many tell-tale remnants of the Taino people scattered throughout the island but by far, Parque Ceremonial Indigena de Caguana is its most impressive collection.