Central Mountain Range
Located in the center of the island, Lares is surrounded by Camuy on the north, Yauco and Maricao on the south, San Sebastian and Las Marías on the west and Hatillo and Utuado on the east. This is a town of the Central Mountain Range of Puerto Rico and it’s mostly rugged. From the Highway # 129 from Arecibo to Lares you can see the town, the church and the houses perfectly arranged on top of the mountain. This town of 35, 000 inhabitants, and a rich history, has many places to visit.
The hidden pond
The hidden Limani pond is the best-kept secret of the locals. To reach the pond, located in the neighborhood of Limani, you must know the innermost recesses of Lares and Adjuntas, because this tiny paradise is literally out of any map. Also known as the Mango puddle, this pool of icewater (temperature can be different for every person) is the haunt of adolescents before, during and after school. For generations, kids in the neighborhood, and those who do not live that close, came together in the crystalline pond to enjoy a great swim. Tied to a tree is a solitary rope, to which the kids cling to swing and jump into the water as if they were men of the jungle.
Pins on your Skin
For those of us, who have not had the privilege to be raised in the rural areas, the excitement of sliding through the stones and jumping into the water it’s not only a great and refreshing experience, but also a liberating moment. Falling into the icy waters of the pool makes you forget any concerns, inhibitions and stress. You have to scream when you touch the water, is inevitable. My nephew was the one who could best describe the feeling of getting into the water: "It is as if you have thousand pins on your skin and then don’t feel anything...” So, you have to scream when you make contact with water, is part of the liberating process.
Near Lares, el Conuco
We left the pond and everyone was hungry. We took the route 111 from Lares to San Sebastián where we found the Conuco de Cuca in the Eneas neighborhood. We decided to turn off the air conditioner in the car to enjoy the pure air of the countryside, as we were reaching the restaurant, we could smell the unique scent of homemade sofrito. There, Rosa Amelia Soto, whom the locals call Cuca, received us. This tall woman with white hair and blue eyes received everyone who visits the restaurant in a really friendly manner. The menu is native Puerto Rican food. Rabbit stew with rice and white beans, sancocho (stew with meat and roots) with tostones (green plantains), gandinga (stew made from the liver of a hog) with white rice, or beefsteak with white rice, red beans on the side. The best selling dishes are the fried meat and the pork chops. For dessert, here are the best mazamorra; is basically a corn porridge, which is made cooking the maize in milk and adding corn starch. Powdered cinnamon is commonly sprinkled on top of the finished dish. They said that this dessert was the food for the poor. Next, we visited the Revolution Square.
The Revolution Square
To sit under the shades of a tree and enjoy the history of the Revolution Square is necessary. The bust of Ramón Emeterio Betances, a Puerto Rican politician, writer, doctor and a revolutionary leader of the independence movement in the country, is located in the center of the square facing south. In front of the bust is a mosaic created by artist Elizam Escobar, marks the path of the Revolution, and tributes El Grito de Lares. On the other hand, it is said that Pedro Albizu Campos planted the tamarind tree, which is on the right side of the mosaic. The history of Lares and Puerto Rico surrounds every corner of the square and each corner of the town.
Conscious Travel Practices:
1. Promote the local economy choosing local restaurants for lunch and buying products to the vianderos.
2. Enjoy the natural beauties like Limaní pond without leaving trash behind.
3. Get to know and promote Lares history.
El Conuco de Cuca
How to get to the Limani pond
- Take Highway 129 en route to Adjuntas / Castañer.
- At the intersection continue on the 135 towards Castañer.
- Upon reaching the PR 525, turn left.
- Pass theExperimental Station of the University of Puerto Rico.
- Keep going 200 to 300 meters and take the road to the right.
- After 100 meters, enter a ground path to the left.
- Continue the road about 150 meters and you see the pond on the left.