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PUERTO RICO SOUTH SIDE - GUAYAMA


Fountain in the Guayama plaza
Guayama was once an important town and is still clean and well kept, worth a stop at the plaza.

Guayama took its name from an Indian leader, or cacique who governed the Southeastern region of the Island, the Guamaní cacique and the Guayama cacique.The meaning of the Indian name, is "Great Place" (in Spanish Sitio Grande). It was Governor Don Tomás de Abadía who officially declared Guayama a "pueblo" (town) with the name of San Antonio de Padua de Guayama. That same year the Catholic Church in town, San Antonio de Padua, was declared a Parish. In 1776 Guayama had 200 houses, the church and a central plaza and the total population was approximately 5,000 villagers. Construction on Guayama's Parroquial church of San Antonio de Padua began in 1827 and was completed 40 years later.

Although sugar cane was cultivated in these parts as far back as the 16th century, it was at the end of the 19th century that the sugar industry charged full-steam ahead. This vast municipality used to be the island’s sugar capital. Some remnants of the industry –sugar mills, hacienda buildings still litter the landscape as ruins.

Guayama was also involved in the Spanish American War of 1898. Two battles ( between the American and Spanish soldiers) were fought here, one in Guayama (August 5, 1898) and one North of town (August 9, 1898) as part of a campaign to move on Cayey, then on to San Juan. The war ended before that happened.

Guyama had the good fortune to have had a very good mayor, elected many times and he kept the town in good stance.

Ehe Dulce Sueño Fair is a celebration to honor the esteemed Paso Fino horse. They are of Spanish origin and brought to Puerto Rico hundreds of years ago, however the Paso Fino is unique to Puerto Rico. 'Dulce Sueño was the founder of the breed, he sired 78 horses.

The Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve was established in 1987. The reserve is located between the coasts of Salinas and Guayama, approximately 2,883 acres of mangrove forest and freshwater wetlands. The two main components: Mar Negro mangrove forest, which consists of a mangrove forest and a complex system of lagoons and channels interspersed with salt and mud flats; and Cayos Caribe Islets, which are surrounded by coral reefs and seagrass beds, with small beach deposits and upland areas. Open Daily: 8:00am-4:00pm, (787) 864-0105. Guided tours are offered upon request and reservation.

The Aguirre Forest includes: mangroves, tidal flats, bird rookeries, research lakes & large manatee population. (787) 864-0105. Mangrove forests are a good place to go if you are scouting for birds. Manatee can be spotted in the area too.



Guayama plaza Puerto Rico

The town Plaza in Guayama. One of the nicer traditional plazas in Puerto Rico.




 

Iglesia San Antonio de Padua is the only Catholic church on the island built in the classic neoromantic style. Stained glass window in the church.

There is a small cafeteria on the corner, same block as the museum, calle 'Universitario'. Great local cheap food, weekday lunch only.



Casa Cautino in Guayama traditional living room furniture n the mini museum

Casa Cautiño is right on the plaza in Guayama. The second generation of this family owned the first Paso Fino horse, called 'Dulce Sueño' born in 1927 in Guayama. House-museum is open to the public, beautifully restored.

Genaro Cautiño Vazquez. Vazquez and his family lived here from 1887-1974, and the home was converted into a museum in 1986. Genaro Cautiño Vazquez's holdings included tobacco and sugar cane, two very lucrative crops in 19th Century Puerto Rico. He was also a Colonel in the Volunteer Spanish Army, and fought in the War of 1898 against the U.S. In fact, Casa Cautiño would become a headquarters for the U.S. army, under the command of General Ulysses Grant. Thanks to meticulous diaries kept by the first lady of the house, Casa Cautiño today serves as an accurate and detailed chronicle of life in the late 1800s and early 1900s, especially for the nobility and dignitaries that frequented the home.



casa cautino display casa cautino chandelier
Gold painted glasses from France. Chandelier with hand blown glass from Murano

Visiting these places is easy, drive yourself, there are two good places to stay in Guayama..

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