Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 Half Title
 Back Cover

Title: Discover Puerto Rico,
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00081384/00001
 Material Information
Title: Discover Puerto Rico,
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Lane, Paul ( Illustrator )
Vandercook, John ( Author, Primary )
Publisher: Harper and Brothers, Publishers
Place of Publication: New York
Publication Date: 1939
Edition: First edition
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00081384
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page i
    Front Matter
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Half Title
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
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        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
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    Back Cover
        Page 45
Full Text


Five hundred copies of this book have been printed
as a special presentation edition, of which this is
copy number I 93


By John W. Yandercook

By Paul Laune

NMw rork and London

Coright, i39, by Harpe & Bro.ers
PrintAd in t Unibd Slato of Amenca




ELERs. Only countries that are rich in
variety can find wide favor.
The island of Puerto Rico is the best travel-
market that I know. In the immense selection
of experiences which it offers, each visitor-or
tourist-or long-time resident-may find what
most pleases him. The pattern of Puerto Rico's
life is intricate. The choice is there: the process
of choice is fascinating.
Puerto Rico is, of course, an island. All
islands have a special magic. Yet often among
the shadows of her hills, the sea seems a conti-

nent away . Puerto Rico is foreign. It has
a national identity as distinct as that of any
country in the world. A new arrival has an im-
mediate impression of having "gone abroad,"
that stimulating sense of frontiers crossed and
the too-familiar left behind. Yet, reassuringly,
America remains close at hand. There is a
"feel" of being in one's own country that is
pleasantly relaxing, some quality apart from the
mere convenience of using familiar money,
needing no passport and living under laws one
understands . Puerto Rico is as ancient as
any land in the new hemisphere-new as pre-
release movies and steel-construction office
buildings; gay as a beach casino, quiet and far-
away as a foot-trail through green jungle. There
is "nothing to do"-and everything to do. A
hundred travelers might bring back a hundred
different reports. All could be equally true.

Puerto Rico is the last and most easterly of
the great islands of the West Indies that swing
down from the point of Florida. It tips the bow

of smaller islands-the Lesser Antilles-that
arch on southward to the Spanish Main.
North of it lies open ocean. There is no land
northeast within two thousand miles to break
the force of those cool and steady winds they
call "the trades." Near it, bluely visible, custer
other friendly islands.

---7/a --/ ic 1cea -
- _-'-- -- J "-_ ".-

^^^^an Peal
Puerto Rico is within the tropics, yet so far
from the equator that the stagnant heat of the
low latitudes is totally unknown. . Within
the neat rectangle of its shape--oo miles long
by 40 wide-lies all that is typical of the Carib-
bean world, and all that is most beautiful; mas-
sive ranges, wide plains, miles of shores of yel-

low sand forever scoured by surf of snowy foam.
. . Discovered by the First Admiral, Puerto
Rico already had one and one quarter centuries
of history when the Mayflower landed. For
more than four hundred years, out of the swift
and changing currents of the world, the island
has matured in its own fashion, established its
own flavor. American since 1898, Americans
have known curiously little of it.
Puerto Rico now comes to its Age of Redis-
covery. Travelers-I hope and I predict-soon
will make their way there in increasing thou-
sands. Yet Puerto Rico will never be "spoiled."
Its character is too fixed, too definite, its charm
is too substantial.

Puerto Rico-in this age of shortened dis-
tances-is surprisingly close. Modern steamers
from New York reach it in four days-all but
one of the days across warm seas. Plane services
enable an air tourist to dine on Monday in Man-
hattan and on Tuesday in Puerto Rico's capital,
the city of San Juan.


From the sea approach, the curiously leveled
summits of Puerto Rico's backbone of moun-
tains make a dark band across the sky, fade
into blue haze beyond the limits of sight both
east and west. Preconceptions of a "little island"
are promptly altered. The mountains that one
sees are far inland. Before them is a wide coastal
plain so fattened by the washed-down earth of
ages that it ranks with the richest farm lands in
the world .... Sugar fields along Puerto
Rico's coast have sold for $12oo an acre.

- -c ---~- -
- ..9J _-


... A rocky promontory juts seaward.
Round its base there is the eternal spurt and
crash of surf. From it rises the guardian mass
of El Morro, most effective of all Spain's New-
World forts. Time has stained El Morro golden
brown and age has scarred and pitted it. From
the sea, so completely does the fortress seem a
part of the palisade on which it rests, one has
little impression of its grandeur. It is an error
other navigators have made before you-an il-
lusion that cost John Hawkins his life and Sir
Francis Drake the most humiliating defeat of
his career. Ashore, later, its full magnificence
can be appreciated.
The ship channel into San Juan harbor paral-
lels what remains of the old city walls. A white
house half glimpsed behind a terraced garden is
Casa Blanca, home of the heirs of the first gov-
ernor, Ponce de Le6n, now in its fifth century
of use as an official residence. Nearby, facing
the harbor entrance, is a many-windowed build-
ing painted raspberry pink. It is La Fortaleza,
office and residence of Puerto Rico's American

La Fortalez's bright pinkness is not conspic-
uous. Color, violent yet somewhat harmonious
color, is everywhere. The odds are infinite that
the sun will be shining. Fleece-white clouds,
raveled by the steady wind, drift in a sky of
intense azure. The sea is the color of ground
lapis-except where it shows acid green in shal-
low places near the shore. Old walls shade from
golden-yellow to rust-red. The confusion of old
and new buildings in the heart of the old city
reflect the sunlight from walls of every pastel
shade. Each tree and exotic shrub in the gar-
dens by the sea-wall has its own definite shade


DISCO V 1 ER r fZ/?"

of green. The scarlet of great bushes of poin-
settia dances kaleidoscopically with the cerise
and purple of garlands of Bougainvillea vines
massive as old grape arbors.
Round a point in the inner bay the picture
abruptly changes. Calm and antiquity have
vanished. Color remains, but now it is the color
of a modern city. Iron steamers lie at their
berths by the big wharfs, cargo booms swing
in the sunlight, trucks manoeuvre busily for
place in the glare of a waterfront street, motor
traffic tangles and untangles itself with noisy
indignation, big trolleys clang through narrow
Another preconception rights itself. San Juan
is no sleepy and forgotten tropic port. It is a
metropolis, capital and first city of a country of
1,750,ooo people, a city of the 20th Century-
whose conflict is yet cushioned in the living
past. .. The process of choice begins.
San Juan city is on an island attached to the
main island by causeways at its eastern end.
The older part of the town, once defended by
enclosing walls, occupies the hilly, western end

of the islet. The newer city, the district of parks
and public buildings, extends along more level
ground toward the east, and suburbs and resi-
dential neighborhoods continue along the coast
for several miles farther on.
Though both may be helpful, one needs
neither map nor guide. San Juan is a city for
strolling. There are no formidable distances in
the older town, and if, in the warren of narrow,
often climbing streets, one is sometimes lost, it
is never for long and the digression will merely
have resulted in some new discovery.

Travelers who land at the waterfront need
no more complicated instructions than to go
straight ahead and then bear left. In San Juan
there is no slum street so poor, or way so nar-

I) (C 0 I R C
row, as to hold the least danger, even that
minor, unpleasant danger of being met with
rudeness. The people of Puerto Rico are Span-
ish, they have kept the dignity and courtesy of
their Spanish tradition. . Those who know
other islands of the West Indies are surprised at
the Puerto Rican's color-or, rather, lack of
color. White blood predominates. Though a
large group shows traces of the admixture of
other races, and one can sometimes see, in high
cheekbones, almond eyes and lank black hair,
hints of long-past Indian inheritance, Negroes
are conspicuously few.

San Juan's Plaza Principal is unavoidable.
All walks somehow end up in it, the trolley
cars and buses all stop in it.
The Plaza Principal is a rectangle of concrete
with a few benches and some shade. It is always
thronged, always busy. Around it are shops,
several of them of an excellence to be found
nowhere else in the Caribbean. From the square
to the east, extend two narrow thoroughfares
that, in activity, compare with the busiest streets

of any mainland city. Stores of every descrip-
tion open their doors upon the narrow side-
walks-those sidewalks from which polite
Puerto Ricans step alertly--to their mortal
peril!--to let less agile strangers safely by.
Along them, and on the side streets that cross
them at right angles, one can buy anything
from an auto to an anchovy. Several establish-
ments deal exclusively in the handmade prod-
ucts of the islands, embroidery and drawn
linen work that is famous 'round the world,
baskets in infinite variety, colorful and strik-
ingly unusual string rugs that the horsemen of
the mountain districts use for saddle cloths.
In so ordinary an act as shopping one at once
senses some of the island quality. Shopkeepers
and their dark-eyed girl assistants are uninsist-
ent, almost shy. No one is brusque, there is no
clamor. Responsively one lowers one's own
voice. It is the first symptom of that deep relaxa-
tion that Puerto Rico is to bring, a rest of the
spirit which is never touched with dullness, that
leaves the mind refreshed.


1)ISCO ER /101-E

From the Plaza-it is a useful place to re-
focus-it is a short drive to El Morro.


Ponce de Le6n, who in 1508 established the
first settlement of Europeans on the island,
somewhat curiously did not at first select San
Juan Island. The fortified house in which Ponce
lived lies across the bay on the mainland some
distance inland. Twelve years passed before the
leader and his handful of followers moved to

the more logical protection of the isle that com-
pletes the great harbor.
San Felipe del Morro (El Morro means sim-
ply "knoll" or hillock) was begun some years
after the move was made, and finally completed
in I6o6. Labor had been lacking, funds had
been inadequate, the Court in Spain had been
slow in dispatching proper ordnance. But even
before its completion, El Morro had served
Sir Francis Drake, victor over the Great Ar-
mada and arch-enemy of Spain, had brought a
fleet beneath El Morro's walls and had been
Drake, fresh from the sacking of the impor-
tant city of Santo Domingo on the nearby
island of Hispaniola, had had word that the
Mexican treasure fleet, driven by storm, had
taken refuge in San Juan-that 2,000,000o pesos
were there for the taking. Continued success
against the Spanish had made the great com-
mander careless-and the power of El Morro,
then as now, was delusive from the sea.
The guns of El Morro crashed with attack-


r;L ~
-I-,_I __ __ __ _

ing fire as Drake's fleet manoeuvred outside
the bay. A chance shot struck the high and
many-windowed stern of the flagship and
smashed the Admiral's dinner table, mortally
wounding three Captains who supped with
him. The night following, under cover of dark,
Drake and his men came into the harbor in
small boats and set afire a Spanish ship that lay
at anchor. . It was not one of Sir Francis'
good days. The flames from the ship made his
invisible flotilla promptly conspicuous. El
Morro's guns belched again with such effective-
ness that half the boats were lost. Drake, one
can imagine with what fury, sailed away.

El Morro today barracks a regiment of the
United States Army, an American regiment of
Puerto Rican personnel. Yet one may wander
through the giant pile almost unnoticed. It is
one of the memorable experiences of a lifetime
of travel. The sloping hillside by which one
approaches the fort is a great lawn of cool,
cropped grass, nowadays converted into one
of the oddest of the world's golf courses-links
where one drives with the hazard of the cliffs
at one's elbows, plays through ancient moats
and under bridges-where, for too-great dis-
traction, one looks down in every direction
upon views of unsurpassed beauty. The fortress

itself, silent, wind-swept, massive beyond even
a modern man's conception of giant building,
produces an impact upon one's senses which
time will never efface. Its walls, cut for the em-
placement of cannon, are ponderously, incred-
ibly thick. Even the most modern shells would
make slow work of them. Stone stairways climb
dangerously along the golden walls, barred
dungeons force their mood upon you with the
suddenness of a hand at one's throat. Below,
dizzily far, hammers the eternal sea.
Casa Blanca, now the residence of the com-
mander of the U. S. troops in Puerto Rico, has
the distinction of being the oldest habitable
building in the New World. With the friendly
informality which characterizes Puerto Rico,
visitors may wander on its shaded terraces, dis-
cover and delight in an old sunken garden
where lilies grow in a formal pool, rare flowers
drowse by sun-warmed walls.
La Fortaleza, too, is left casually open.
Planned first as a fortress-therefore its name-
La Fortaleza has been occupied by successive

DISCO I'ER /l!94^<

governors of Puerto Rico for 300 years. The
American Governor lives today on the upper
floors, his office and those of his aides are on
the lower ones. Yet callers are permitted to
wander almost where they will. Nowhere more
clearly than in the old palace does one sense the
wholly friendly, cooperative way in which
America's nearest and most important insular
possession is ruled. Here, obviously, is govern-
ment that bases its authority upon consent, rule
that is effective because of mutual under-
Not far away is the Church of San Jose,
where men have worshipped for 400 years.
Down the hill is the Cathedral, where Ponce
de Le6n lies buried.
San Juan may be visited and revisited. One
has never "seen everything." It is a crowded
city, foreign, vigorously alive. Everywhere the
familiar touches elbows with the unfamiliar.
. . Dark, half-Indian faces return one's smile
with the lips alone. Girls of aristocratic Spanish
lineage, brought up in decorous tradition, smile

1) I.S ( VE R lo: ^ c1
only with their eyes. . One hails a taxi by
a door whose arch was carved and placed there
when Elizabeth was Queen. ...

,iJ )

A wide avenue that runs east to the suburb
of Santurce is named, as are so many things
on the island, after the great Ponce. On it are
the buildings of Puerto Rico's new, more pros-
perous era under the American flag; a Carnegie
library, the strikingly beautiful Spanish Club,
the domed Capitol, the School of Tropical
Medicine. All are worth more than passing at-
tention. Near the end of the Avenue is a more
immediate objective of most travelers-the Es-


cambr6n, one of the finest bathing beaches in
the tropics.

The Escambr6n takes its name from a part
of the ancient system of fortifications of San
Juan Island. The walls of an old fort now form
one side of the place. The beach is on a bay
facing the northeast trades. The surf breaks
harmlessly outside. Within, enclosed by a dis-
tant board walk, is a strand of yellow sand
backed by a grove of growing palms. One may
choose, therefore, either shade or sun. Under
the palms are tables where one may eat and
drink. There is no month, few days, in the
year when swimming at Escambr6n is not
faultless. In my opinion, Escambr6n is more
beautiful than Honolulu's Waikiki, more inti-
mate and less shatteringly glaring than any of
the justly famous beaches of Havana.
Beyond Escambr6n, in the suburb of San-
turce, is the Hotel Condado, the finest on the
island. The Condado stands in its own gar-
dens, so close to the sea that when the wind
from the north comes strongly the spray flicks


its very walls. Before it, built among the dark
and surf-torn rocks, is a tiled terrace. There is
a small bandstand and lights are strung over it.
But when the moon rides high on cloudless
nights, they are scarcely necessary. The terrace
is washed in a light like burnished silver, so
strong one may sense, rather than see, the color
of dresses, the tint of lips. It is then that the
Garden-by-the-Sea is used for dancing. The
music has the rasp and boom of the sea for
undertone, the moon is so close one seems to
know its friendliness as never before. ....
"When we danced on the Condado Terrace in
the moonlight" has become fixed in many



The native orchestras of Puerto Rico are
unique. The inherited music of Spain has been
altered through centuries of isolation and col-
ored by contact with other races until it has be-
come peculiarly Puerto Rican. Certain instru-
ments, rhythms, songs, and dances are like no
others in the world.
A Puerto Rican orchestra has no fixed num-
ber of men. But usually at least six characteristic
instruments are represented. The most familiar
is the guitar-played as only those of Spanish
blood can play it. Then there is the smaller,
four-stringed guitar called a cuatro; two seed-
filled gourds on short handles-the indispen-
sable maracas; a simple accordion or sinfonia;
elemental but useful devices named palitos-
merely two hardwood sticks that are rapped
across each other; and, oddest of all, guiro, a
long, bottle-shaped gourd incised in a series of
shallow grooves on one side and scraped with a
metal rod. From these is evoked an amazing,
haunting music.
The people of the mountain provinces have
their own folk music-the plena. The music
of the plena, usually freely extemporized, is


sung to by the members of the orchestra and
the words of the plena songs are perpetually
new. Current news and current scandal find
expression in them. More sophisticated, and
worthy of place in the true music of the world,
is the Puerto Rican danza, based upon a gra-
cious, waltz-like rhythm.
For each type of music-and the island peo-
ple are proficient in the dances of Cuba and
America as well as in those peculiar to them-
selves-there are special steps, special figures.
As in all things, the Puerto Ricans are tolerant,
friendly-as willing to impart their skill, as
visitors are anxious to acquire it.

Puerto Rico was discovered, during the sec-
ond voyage of Columbus, on November i9th,
1493. The second was the greatest of the
Discoverer's four expeditions. His royal patrons,
fired with excitement by the proofs he had
brought back from his first voyage, had fur-
nished him with 17 ships, and 1500oo men had
volunteered to sail with them.
The flotilla sailed along the south coast of
Puerto Rico, rounded its western end and at

length dropped anchor off where is now the town
of Aguadilla. There, at a still flowing spring, the
fleet replenished its water and the island was
formally claimed for Spain. No inhabitants had
as yet shown themselves-one can imagine with
what wonder they had watched the little gilded
ships upon that always empty sea-and the
Navigator continued on to Santo Domingo.
With him, obscure in that rabble of adven-
turers, was a young soldier named Juan Ponce,
of the province of Leon. Ponce remained in
Santo Domingo and rose at last to the post of


Captain in the household of the Governor.
Years passed. But he had cherished the mem-
ory of the now half-forgotten island to the east.
Fifteen years later he returned to it with men
and ships, found again the place of the spring,
then sailed along the northern coast until he
reached what is now San Juan. The first sight
of the rich harbor gave rise to the name the
island has since borne.
It was soon discovered that the island was
inhabited, by a tribe of Indians called the Borin-
quen-as quickly learned that the Spaniards
had nothing to fear from them.
The Borinquens were a golden-skinned peo-
ple, short, strong, gentle of habit and in mind.
Their hair was black and lank and they wore
it in a topknot tied above their foreheads. They
painted themselves liberally and garishly, they
lived in raised huts of thatch and farmed simple
crops on the warm hill slopes. For entertain-
ment the Borinquens smoked a pipe called a
tabaco-and played a kind of handball with
balls of resin!
The white warriors who came in tall and tilt-
ing ships, who had black beards and breasts of

gleaming steel, whose sticks shot fiery death
and whose god was gold, were clearly-thought
the Borinquens-creatures of the sky, and so
immortal. There was nothing for it but to do
their bidding.
It was a harsh bidding. The chiefs among
the Borinquens wore discs of gold around their
necks as marks of office. It was because gold
was so rare upon the island. ... But the Span-
iards, seeing it, fancied it more common than
iron at home and set the Borinquens to seek
more of it. When they did not find it, they were
sometimes flogged until they died.
The white men seemed strange gods, unlike
the promise of the old, kind legends. . At
last, in a spirit of pious curiosity, some Borin-




quen men tried an experiment. They were ac-
companying a young Spanish soldier named
Salcedo across a river in the hills. Half way
over they caught his arms and forced him under
and held him there until he drowned.
Indeed, he looked as if he were dead. But
with these fierce beings from the sea one could
not tell. The experimenters arranged Salcedo's
body by the river bank and remained beside it
praying for three days. Three days removed all
Word spread, first wonderingly, then swiftly.
These white strangers were but men, and evil
men, and they were few. Rebellion against them
was quickly organized; violently, instantly
crushed. Ponce had but 120 men, but they were
disciplined and armed. The outnumbering
Borinquens were routed, hundreds of them
slaughtered. . Within less than a century
the last full-blooded member of the race was
Puerto Rico did not immediately prosper.
Gold was scarce and the Conquistadors had

DISC 0 1ER 4!:2
not come to cut down forest or delve in the
land for a mere living. With the passing of
the years the more resolute departed, leaving
only humbler folk to make of disappointment
what they could. Life on the island, it was true,
was not unduly hard, the earth gave lavishly
and the climate left no room for complaint.
But they had come in the hope of easy, instant
fortunes. And news reached Puerto Rico that
others had in truth found what all had come
to seek.
A Spanish Governor wrote in 1534: "There
came a ship here from Peru to buy horses. The
Captain related such wonderful things that the
people became excited and even the oldest set-
tiers wanted to leave. If I had not instantly
ordered him away the island would have been
deserted. I have imposed the death penalty on
whosoever shall attempt to leave the island."
Yet life went on. A few colonists sometimes
came out from Spain, those who settled, with
what content they could to home-making, in-
creased. But communication with Europe was

I) S 1 /CI'll" R
rare, there was little external trade and there-
fore little money. Negro slaves, who were being
brought by tens of thousands to the other Carib-
bean islands, reached Puerto Rico in mere
handfuls. The Puerto Ricans could not afford
them. The great proportion of people of Euro-
pean race upon the island, therefore, retained
their purity of blood.
The years moved slowly on. Sugar had been
imported in the early years of settlement and,
when there were ships, found a rich market.
Coffee--coffee of a fine and curious flavor-
throve in the cool mountains, tobacco on the
cleared hillsides. And there was always fruit
and food enough.
Spain's monopoly of the New World did not
remain long unchallenged. The powers of Eng-
land, the Netherlands, and France were grow-
ing-and growing hungry. One by one, terri-
tories in the Caribbean claimed by Spain were
wrenched from her. Puerto Rico, one of the
richest of the prizes, soon became almost unique
in its successful record of defense.

The guns of El Morro had defeated Drake.
In 1598 another British expedition was more
successful. Troops under the Duke of Cumber-
land forced a landing on the beach east of San
Juan, besieged and took the city. But the tri-
umph was short-lived. After 157 days of Eng-
lish occupation an outbreak of sickness accom-
plished what the Spanish forces for once had
failed to do, and Cumberland, his ranks woe-
fully reduced, was obliged to withdraw. That
brief period marked the only break in four
centuries of the Spanish power in the island,
until, indeed, the occasion of Puerto Rico's all
but bloodless surrender to the United States
during the Spanish-American War.
A Dutch attack in the 7th century had ended
as all wars should. . After five days of siege,
champions of both sides were named. A young
Spanish captain fought a duel with the Dutch
commander on the slopes below El Morro-
there is a monument that marks the place. The
Dutchman was defeated and, true to his word,
withdrew his army. .. The French came,

D) IS C 0 V ER

for more than a century the coasts were har-
assed by the buccaneers, the English repeatedly
returned to the attack. There were few long
periods of peace, yet intervals of war were mer-
cifully brief. Firmly the foundations of Puerto
Rico's character were laid, the structure of her
life built up.
The island's population steadily grew. By the
middle of the 19th century Puerto Rico had
taken important rank in the world's market
both as a producer and consumer. With self-
reliance, the political ties binding the island to

Spain began to weaken. The home government
had repeatedly blundered. Puerto Rico's de-
mands for greater liberty grew ever more in-
sistent. Privileges were granted, then clumsily
withdrawn. Though the vigor of the revolu-
tionary movement that took place in Cuba was
never equaled on the smaller island, Spain's
grip was perceptibly slackening.
The war between the United States and
Spain broke out in April, 1898. In May Ad-
miral Sampson's fleet bombarded San Juan har-
bor, then sailed away, having inflicted little
damage. In midsummer an American force was
landed on the south coast. Its advance overland
met with little resistance. No battle of conse-
quence was fought and there were few casual-
ties. The American occupation was officially
established in the autumn of the same year.

The era under the American flag has been
undisturbed, generally happy. Puerto Rico was
not conquered. From the beginning the scheme
of the Insular Government has been cooperative.

D IS C 0 'ER -
Today there are few official posts, important or
unimportant, not held by Puerto Ricans. The
development of an independence movement on
the island in late years has been remarkable
chiefly for the small number of its adherents.
The almost universally held opinion is that the
great advantages Puerto Rico derives from as-
sociation with the United States outweigh any
conceivable disadvantages, that whatever dis-
contents may from time to time arise are mat-
ters of simple adjustment.
Nor, as is sometimes vaguely supposed on
the mainland, are "advantages" one sided. De-
spite its small size Puerto Rico ranks sixth
among the United States' exterior markets.
Close to $9o,ooo,ooo worth of American farm
products and manufactured goods are pur-
chased by the island each year, more than 90%
of all Puerto Rico's imports.
Interestingly, the Puerto Rican market has
steadily bettered, even in the recent difficult



Puerto Rico improves with acquaintance.
Those travelers who like it most are those who
know it best. Weeks-or months-may be
agreeably spent there. Fresh beauties, fresh in-
terests, constantly await one.
Climate comes first. For without good
weather, sight-seeing and vacationing can be
a burden. It is ideal. During the four months
of winter the average temperature is 750 F. The
breeze from the sea is constant. By actual count
there are more hours of sunshine in Puerto Rico
than on the Riviera or in North Africa-yet
the sun is so temperate that hats are unneces-
sary, sunstroke unheard of. Evenings are cool,
sleep, easy and refreshing.
In such nearly uniform and perfect weather,
holiday activities of every kind are a delight.
Swimming, golf and tennis are always avail-
able. Motoring is unique.
Puerto Rico has more than iooo miles of
good highways. A main road makes a com-
plete circuit of the island; others, superbly en-
gineered, wind through the high mountains.


Nearly every type of tropical landscape is some-
where represented. Anyone who knows the best
of Puerto Rico knows the best scenically of the
whole West Indian area.

There is a drive from San Juan that may be
made in a morning. Tourists whose stay is lim-
ited could spend their time no more profitably;
vacationers planning a longer visit should under
no circumstances omit it.
Near the eastern end of the island, in the
Luquillo Range, is a great, forest-covered moun-

,-, --



tain named El Yunque-The Anvil. Fifteen
thousand acres of peaks and upland valleys have
been acquired by the Insular Government and
established as a National Forest.
The road to El Yunque, after leaving the
suburbs of San Juan, runs for a time through
the coast plain lands. Most of the way is richly,
beautifully shaded. Almond trees arch over it,
the glinting rose and silver trunks of gum trees
race past. One is in that rich, strange world of
the tropics, every detail of which is new to

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those who hitherto have known only the coun-
tries of the north, that even long familiarity
with the latitudes of the sun never turns stale.
... Here are acres upon acres of coconuts,
fairest and most delicate of palms, here the
firm, dark trees of a citrus plantation, heavy
with grapefruit, limes, and oranges. Where the
way crosses a clear stream one looks into a green
cavern formed by the giant, feathery plumes of
bamboo. Wild flowers grow in the ditches,
peasant's huts are half lost in flaming tangles
of vines. Pale mauve fronds of sugar-blooms
bend in the steady wind above miles of fertile
The road climbs slowly up among the foot-
hills. The strong blue of the sea appears, widens
to infimte horizons. Far to the east one can
make out the blue shapes of offshore islands,
dimly, at the very limit of sight, the Virgin
Islands. Conversation deteriorates into gasps
and exclamations. There are few views in the
world of such bright and vivid splendor.
Soon the quiet, dark crags loom hugely up

above. A silver waterfall shimmers down a
black cliff. The air turns chill and greenly
fragrant. . From the motor road, foot trails
run through the jungle to a lookout on the
highest summit. ... Brief rain showers whip
past, borne by the northeast trades; clouds form
in the ravines, as quickly dissolve, staining the
forest with transient rainbows. Bird notes sound
in the silence of the woods. . .

All roads in Puerto Rico that strike inland
soon reach the hills. A highway across the
island from San Juan to Guayama goes to the
heart of the tobacco country, where cultivation
has been carried to the top of every mountain,
then winds its way among sheer, wooded sum-
mits. From each of the countless turnings new
vistas open down the valleys.
Flowers and flowering trees are a character-
istic of the island ways. Many places in the
tropics disappoint newcomers by their uniform-
ity of greenness and absence of other colors.
But in Puerto Rico, where trees are planted at


both sides of most the roads, local wisdom has
chosen trees that have seasons of bright bloom-
ing. One of the most frequently encountered-
there are miles upon miles of them both in the
hills and plain lands-is the flamboyant It is
not a large tree, but since the highways are
seldom wide its branches interlace overhead,
forming, when in full scarlet splendor in the
summertime, flowered ceilings that make you
feel as if riding through fire caverns. And lately
the government has urged that flowers and
flowering shrubs be set out along all roadsides.
In a land "where even the fence-posts grow,"
where taste is a universal heritage, response has
been immediate and there are now long flashing
sequences of unimaginable brightness. Beyond
one such stretch of wonder, on the Guayama
road, is a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes in a
gash in the mountain in as lovely a small gar-
den as one may see anywhere. Finally, like a
crescendo in music, the huge hills break, and
far away below, beyond a green and fertile
valley, is the other sea-the Caribbean.

Another mountain road passes through an
upland town called Aibonito-the name itself
an exclamation of beauty.
Beyond Aibonito, at Coamo Springs, is a de-
lightful, rambling, old-fashioned inn that has
been a favorite rest and vacation place for Puerto
Ricans of the upper class for generations. A
volcanic spring near it pours hotly from the
rocks. The beneficial minerals contained in it
make the water of Coamo Springs rank with
those of the finest spas in the world. There is a
pool and a bath establishment for guests in search
of tonic healing.

Lovely though the middle and eastern por-
tion of the island is, there is a district farther
west that to my mind, for grandeur and acces-
sibility together, excels anything of its kind in
the American tropics-a trip through the heart
of the coffee country by a road-should you
take it-from Yauco, near the southeast coast,
to Maricao, then on down to Mayagiiez on the
west coast.

The number of cross-country miles is few,
but the many necessary turnings of the road
increase them-and no one would wish to travel
such miles quickly. .... Coffee, of course, is a
forest crop, coffee lands are perfumed wood-
lands. Too, coffee demands shade and to sup-
ply it the growers in the western hills have
planted a tree called Bocare, a tall, pale-barked
tree that during the months of winter bears
instead of leaves an infinite profusion of red-
orange flowers.
Whole mountain sides blaze with them. ...
The road climbs to such heights that the ranges
seem to have the proportions of the Andes. The
air takes on a different quality. Here, at its most
gorgeous, is the verdant, various wonder of
tropical nature.

The lesser cities of the island, though they
have a superficial sameness and are too thronged
and too flat to have an interest to tourists com-
parable to that of the rural districts of the island,
have nevertheless all of them some objectives
for the curious.

Ponce, the second city of Puerto Rico in size,
has perhaps a more completely foreign atmos-
phere than any other community on the island.
Ponce is as Spanish as Cadiz-and as proud of
it. . One of those quiet intervals of journey-
ing that I remember best was an evening hour
spent in the light-strung Plaza of the town, at
case on a cool stone bench, watching the strol-
lers among the white statues and around the

fountain basin-and being politely viewed by
them in turn .. as is the Ponce style in the
dusks of everlasting summer.
In Ponce, surprisingly, is one of the largest
diamond-cutting works in the Western Hemi-
sphere. Here, in a big concrete factory on a slum
street-no nearer to any diamond mine than it
is to any subway-that most precise and diffi-
cult of trades has developed; here, hundreds of
thousands of dollars worth of diamonds are
handed about as casually as gravel, including
some of the most famous gems in the world,
sent to the experts of far off Ponce for fine
Mayagiiez is the center of the Puerto Rican
embroidery industry; San Germin, with its
beautiful stained old church, once a town on
the coast, was long since driven inland by the
raids of French corsairs; in Guanica and a
dozen lesser towns one may visit sugar mills
and rum distilleries that rank among the finest
in the world. . No place upon the island, if
one has curiosity and that power to be amused
that wise travelers bring with them, is to-


tally without some small fascination of its own.

Yet the intangibles-in Puerto Rico as else-
where-are best. No guide or page of printed
words can direct you to them. . Some are
visual-the shadow of yoked oxen at twilight
on a road above the sea, the gallant set of a
bronzed horseman's shoulders as he trots his
pony over a wide field from which the cane


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has just been cut . the moist beauty and
sadness in a baby's eyes, heritage of those for-
gotten tribesmen of the hills, now so long gone
... the plummet drop of a pelican among the
surf-torn rocks beyond the Escambr6n. ....
Other intangibles, more precious, are of the
mind. . Some small knowledge of another
people in a world quite different from one's
own; the sense, come to very soon in Puerto
Rico, of common humanity, of the inherent
friendliness-it asks so little invitation-that
people of other sorts and other countries may
discover in each other.


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