Centro Ceremonial Indígena de Caguana
Centro Ceremonial Indígena de Caguana (Carr. 111, km 12.5, between Utuado and Lares, 787/894-7325 or 787/894-7310, www.icp.gobierno.pr, daily 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m., $2 adults, $1 children 6–12, children under 6 and seniors free) is one of the island’s most significant archaeological sites.
Taíno Indians did not live on the site in Caguana, but dating back to A.D. 1100 they congregated here for religious ceremonies and ball games, leaving behind 12 ceremonial ball fields called bateyes, two of which have yet to be excavated. All but one are rectangular fields rimmed with stones and small monoliths, some of which have animal faces and spiral symbols carved into their sides. One is an atypical horseshoe shape. Bateyes were central to Taíno culture. This is where men competed with neighboring Taíno groups in a game similar to soccer, played with a ball made from rubber plants and reeds.
A traditional Taíno hut made from tree trunks and palm fronds, called a bohio, has been recreated on the site, and there is a small museum of artifacts that unfortunately is closed indefinitely. Many of the artifacts excavated from the site, such as cemis (amulets) and stone collars, have been relocated to the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture in San Juan.
Excavation first began on the park in 1915, and it has undergone various stages of excavation and restoration over the years, including a $500,000 overhaul in 2005 that made it more tourist-friendly by planting a promenade of palm trees at the entrance and creating picnic areas and attractive stone walkways through the park.
Getting to Centro Ceremonial Indígena de Caguana
The best way to get there is to take Highway 10 south from Arecibo to Carretera 111, which is a tight, windy road featuring hairpin curve after hairpin curve. Beware of livestock on this road: Horses and cows can frequently be seen tied up to houses that hug the road, and chickens wander freely.
© Suzanne Van Atten from Moon Puerto Rico, 2nd Edition