The municipality of Caguas lies in Puerto Rico’s renowned Cordillera Central, which simply translates to the Central Mountain Range. When the Spaniards arrived in this area, known then to native taínos as the Turabo Valley, the ruling cacique’s name was Caguax.
This fertile valley has been an important farming site for centuries with crops including sugar cane, tobacco, plantain, and cotton, as well as pineapples and mangoes, which lend their names to two barrios. It was in Caguas also that the seed was planted for what would grow into one of Puerto Rico’s most important industries: the production of pharmaceuticals. In 1969, G.D. Searle & Co. (now Pfizer) opened a factory in Caguas. About fifteen years later, the island had become one of the world’s leading drug manufacturers.
Another landmark was Don Faustino Sotomayor Ralat’s first private donation to the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico in 1975. The Jorge F. Sotomayor del Toro Protected Natural Area is named after his son, a pilot fallen in combat, and consists of a tropical forest ecosystem with falls and streams that feed into the Turabo River.
Another attraction for naturalists is the Caguas Botanical and Cultural Garden, inaugurated in the spring of 2007. Its grounds house various exhibits of historical value: visitors can choose to tour a sugar mill and its hacienda, an archeological research area with taíno artifacts, as well as various gardens which highlight the flora of the island’s different inhabitants through the ages.
The recently named Ruta del Corazón Criollo, which will leads visitors to many downtown museums that celebrate different aspects of the town’s culture. These include the Tobacco Museum and the Troubadour Museum, as well as many other colorful, photo-op sites such as the Casa Rosada (Pink House) and a flower clock.
In this municipality steady development (many popular malls are located along its highways) has allowed them to maintain, rather than raze and build over, elements of its history and evolution dating as far back as the birth of civilization in the area. Its nickname as the “creole heart” of Puerto Rico “no le queda grande”… that is to say, it is quite fitting.