Category Archives: Places

Places of interest

Los Tres Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day)

Puerto Rico was a Catholic Spanish colony for over 400 years. Christian influence is everywhere inspiring most of our christmas traditions and customs. One such tradition is Three Kings Day. The three kings or magi were originally mentioned in Mathew 2 as wise men who followed the star of Bethlehem bringing gold, myrrh, and incense to the baby Jesus. Later the tradition became more elaborate naming the kings as three: Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltazar, who traveled on camels from different parts of the world.

A King on a Christmas Tree
A King on a Christmas Tree

In Puerto Rico young children gather grass on January 5th and leave it in a box for the camels to eat while the three kings come and leave their gifts under their bed or christmas tree. On the morning of January 6th they wake to find their gifts while the grass they gathered is gone and sometimes tossed about. The camels (or horses) are a bit messy.

This tradition is so strong a set of real life Magi, Los Reyes de Juana Díaz actually travel through various pueblos of the island spreading cheer, joy, and hope as they go. The Governor traditionally holds a special celebration where children receive gifts. In some households, Santa never arrives, only the Three Kings. Most families have some sort of celebration and many versions of the magi appear all over the Island. This year, the magi brought gifts and a small carriage to give the kids a ride. They loved it!

We ate, we sang, we drank, we joked, and just when we were about to leave… the Parranda arrived.

La Parranda
La Parranda
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The Bamboo Hooches: Tropical Treehouse @ Rincón, Puerto Rico

Honeymoon-like Hooch behind the house
Honeymoon-like Hooch behind the house

Nestled in the mountains of Rincón, on the west coast of Puerto Rico, is a small guest house unlike any other. The entrance is almost invisible, hidden among long green bamboo, but once you cross that threshold, it’s like being transported to another place. The dry, golden hills of Rincón disappear beneath a tall bamboo forest canopy.  A doorway leads to a path and a wooden house. Beyond that is a small fountain and the path continues towards the Luna Hooch.

 

The Buddha Hooch Photo by: Maricel Jiménez
The Buddha Hooch
Photo by: Maricel Jiménez

A Hooch is a bamboo structure built like a tree house. It runs on solar panels, making it self-sustainable, and it’s equipped with a full kitchen (with cooler for a fridge), bathroom, and queen-sized bed.

The Luna Hooch has it’s own little private porch and beyond that lies the Sunset Hooch: a slightly bigger version of the Luna. To the left of the Sunset Hooch is a path leading to a large bamboo swing. The path connects to other paths throughout the property. One of those leads to the Buddha Hooch, a large-scale version of the hooch. I suspect the view must have been magnificent.

Really tall bamboo
Really tall bamboo

The grounds are full of all kinds of bamboo, some over 20 feet tall. Take your time to explore the paths, look at the spiders and taíno inspired decorations.

 

More pics on previous blog by same author: The Tropical Treehouse

Website: www.tropical-treehouse.com

El Viejo San Juan (Old San Juan), Puerto Rico

Musician on the streets of Old San Juan. Photo by: Maricel Jiménez
Musician on the streets of Old San Juan.
Photo by: Maricel Jiménez

Old San Juan is different from any other place in Puerto Rico. Colorful colonial buildings with tall windows line the cobbled streets of blue. It’s filled with life. The walls are infused with centuries of history, the plazas filled with old men in guayabera’s (typical shirt), artisans, neighbors, workers, and tourists. Delicious restaurants of all kinds mingle between shops, hotels, and government offices.

The Governor’s house is there. La Fortaleza or Palacio Santa Catalina, was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, as it is one of the oldest palaces in use in the Americas (finished in 1540).

Garita. A lookout spot in the city wall. Photo by: Maricel Jiménez
Garita. A lookout spot in the city wall.
Photo by: Maricel Jiménez

El Morro and San Cristobal Forts have daily tours and house more history reminiscent of pirates and rum runners. In fact, a famous Puerto Rican pirate El Pirata Cofresí, was executed on El Morro grounds in 1825. The castle walls still bear the wounds of old cannon ball hits.

The Parque de las Palomas (Pigeon Park) is a classic to visit and great for the kids. The Museo del Niño, also great for kids, is right next to el Hotel Convento, while the jewelry shops are supposed to have some of the best discounts.  Personally I’ve always wondered about the Underground Tunnels, rumored to traverse the entire city from La Fortaleza, to El Morro, to San Cristobal Fort.

This escalinata was buried under asphalt and road some 10 years ago. During plumbing work it was discovered and restored. Spectacular! Photo by: Maricel Jiménez
This escalinata was buried under asphalt and road some 10 years ago. During plumbing work it was discovered and restored. Spectacular!
Photo by: Maricel Jiménez
Don Tite Curet statue @ La Plaza de Armas in the center of the old city. Photo by: Maricel Jiménez
Don Tite Curet statue @ La Plaza de Armas in the center of the old city.
Photo by: Maricel Jiménez

Take your time to leisurely walk the streets and notice the peeled plaster in some of the abandoned buildings, the tiny plants growing between the cobblestones, the old man carrying a bundle of white flowers “aaazucenas”… buy some.

I bet you’ll like this town.

Yarari?

Welcome to Pueto Rico Yarari! We’re finishing the year with a brand new blog. In case you’re wondering what “yarari” means, we figured the best way to start was explaining that name in the first place, so here it is.

Yarari is a Taíno word. The Taínos were the original inhabitants of Puerto Rico when Christopher Columbus arrived on our island. They were descendants of the Arawakan Indians who arrived in the region from South America.

“Yara” in Taíno means “place”, and “ri” means “brave, valiant, or fine spirit”. So “yarari” means “fine place”. Puerto Rico is yarari. It’s actually a really fine place. This blog will be all about why Puerto Rico is a fine place. I hope you like it, come visit, and discover all the beautiful places the yarari I call home has to offer.

Welcome to Puerto Rico Yarari!