Jayuya, located north of Ponce and in the mountainous center region of the Island, is a municipality of Puerto Rico. It was named after the Taino tribal leader, Hayuya. If you are looking for skilled wood carvers, you will find them in Jayuya. This part of town serves as a great visit for those who love historic sites.
La Piedra Escrita (“The Written Rock”) – is a large rock, sitting in the Rio Saliente, that is adorned with drawings and carvings (called petroglyphs) left behind by the aboriginal people of the island commonly known as Tainos. This is a great spot for pictures as well as swimming in the river. There is a long boardwalk with stairs that leads down to the river and rock. There is no admission fee and plenty of free parking.
Museo el Cemi – a cemi is a god, spirit or ancestor to the Taino people. It is also the name given to the religious symbol that is the physical representation of a god. The most common shape for cemis in Puerto Rico is a form with three “points” carved in stone or wood. These idols have carved representations of both humans and animals. This small museum building is carved into the shape of a cemi. Inside you will find ancient pottery, tools and other artifacts. There is also a mural with common petroglyphs. The entire visit can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes. I was disappointed to find that the museum was not in the greatest condition considering it holds ancient artifacts. Admission cost: $1.00. The museum is open 7 days/week from 10am – 4pm (closed from 12-1 for lunch).
Casa Canales – Since becoming a commonwealth of the United States, Puerto Rico’s status has been disputed by many on the island where each political party holds a stance. Those who believe PR should be a sovereign nation are referred to as Nationalists or Independentistas. At Casa Canales you can learn about the Freedom Uprising that took place in 1950 led by Blanca Canales. This was her home where she held meetings and developed a plan for their revolution. There is plenty to see in the museum from personal family belongings to items that depict Puerto Rican life from that era. Admission is $1 for adults and 50¢ for kids. The museum is open 7 days/week from 9:30am – 4:00pm.
How to Get There
Be sure to follow the route to Jayuya through San Juan. La Piedra Escrita is accessible from Route 144 (between KM 7.7 and KM 8 ) in Jayuya. Museo el Cemi is further down the road from La Piedra Escrita on Route 144 – take it to KM 9.3. Casa Canales is located right next to Museo el Cemi.
What To Bring
Jayuya is located at the highest peak of the island and can have temperatures as low as 50 degrees during winter months. Be sure to wear layered clothing if you plan to visit November – February. For La Piedra Escrita bring your swimsuits, water shoes and if you plan on visiting other places in the area a towel and some dry clothes to change into. Don’t forget your camera to take pictures of Museo el Cemi and Casa Canales.
Some Last Tips
It is common practice to take lemons in the car when driving to the center of the island because all roads at some point are very winding and can cause the strongest of people to become car sick. There are old roads that take much longer and are extremely winding so be sure to follow the recommended route by the GPS (you may lose cell phone signal in some spots in Jayuya). Also, all of these sites can be done in the same day as they are all on the same road.
I was shocked and disappointed to find that it is common practice for people to jump off La Piedra Escrita rock and slide off of it, rubbing against the petroglyphs. Preservation doesn’t seem to be a concern for the local government. Please do your part by not climbing on the rock and sliding down into the water.
Hacienda San Pedro is a museum, store, light eatery, and coffee shop. They also produce the coffee on site. They have delicious coffee and sandwiches as well as baked goods. Located on the same road as the other sites: Carr 144 Km. 8.4, Barrio Coabey, Jayuya, PR 00664
We hope you pay Jayuya a visit on your next trip to Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico Guest Contributor
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